FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed
The victims of the recent communal clash between the Gwari and Fulani communities in Gwako town at Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over encroachment of farmlands are still counting their losses within the 27 affected communities.
This came as the FCT Administration (FCTA) warned against reprisals, following recent killing in Gako community of Gwagwalada area council over clashes between Gbagi and Fulani herdsmen in the area.
THISDAY Monday visited the temporary camp on the permanent campus of the University of Abuja in Gwagwalada area where about 500 displaced people mostly Fulani have been squatting since Sunday.
Some of the people who spoke to THISDAY disclosed that they lost all their belongings including money, houses and cloths as all of them were completely burnt during the crisis.
“We lost all the 27 settlements as all of them were burnt down. We lost all our belongings and have nothing left, no cloths, money or food as we left all behind to flee,” lamented Mohammed Lawan, who is one of the displaced victims at temporary Camp, University of Abuja, Gwagwalada.
The crisis started on Saturday as a result of encroachment of herd of cattle belonging to Fulani Nomads into farmlands belonging to Gwaris in the area before it escalated to fights on Sunday, which cost many their properties and would have been worse if not for the prompt intervention of the FCTA and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Despite efforts by FCTA, NEMA and security agencies to restore normalcy, most of the displaced victims still expressed fear and called on the concerned authorities to ensure that the historical peaceful co-existence between the two communities returns.
Narrating their ordeal, Mr. Rabo Ibrahim, urged the government to objectively investigate the matter and ensure that sustainable peace is maintained in the post-conflict era.
“We want government to be objective and take the right decision in order to ensure that both communities live in permanent peace. Apart from the two people killed; two adult males, about five people mostly the elderly sustained injuries and we want government to do the right thing by thoroughly investigating the crisis and punish the perpetrators so that peace will return,” he remarked.
However, one of the leaders of Fulani settlers and live stock attendant, Department of Vertical Medicine, University of Abuja, Madaki Alhasan Gageri, has called on the government to separate the real victims from those who ran away from their homes because of fear.
Gageri disclosed that it was not all the communities that were affected but were encouraged to relocate to the temporary camp by the security agents for safety purposes.
He appealed to the government to allow those from unaffected communities to return to their homes in order to attend to their livestocks that they left behind, and as well reduce strain on the relief materials meant for the real victims.
“We appeal to the government to encourage those who were not affected to go back to their communities in order to attend to their livestocks. There are those who left their livestocks and belongings behind because the security agents allowed them to do so for their safety. However, they should be encouraged to go back to take care of their cattles and as well ensure that the relief materials are enough for the displaced people.
“It is also important for quick resolution to the conflict and restore peace so that outsiders do not hijack it and blame it on either Gwari or Fulani because we have been living peacefully for over 20 years,” he added.
In the same vein, the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, while speaking at a stakeholders meeting to resolve the crisis held in Gwagwalada’s Conference Hall warned against reprisal attacks.
He assured the people that all efforts were being made to restore peace in the waring communities and pledged to punish those behind the killings as he setup a 15-man committee headed by FCT Commissioner, Derele Shinaba.
His said: “Anybody found to be culpable or have participated in the perpetuation of this heinous crime, whatever his or her position in society will face the full wrath of the law. We appeal to all the disagreeing factions to forgive one another and warn against any reprisal attack.”
The committee which has one week to submit its report was mandated to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the crisis, and recommend necessary compensation as well as recommend those that will face prosecution to be made by the administration.
Mohammed sued for calm and urged members of the communities to continue to maintain peace and harmonious co-existence amongst themselves since they have a long standing history of living together as one.
He expressed the desire of the government to get to the root cause of the matter to ensure that this unfortunate incident never happen again.
The minister announced that his administration would take a major step in creating a grazing zone in the FCT to reduce the re-occurrence of similar incidence.
He said: “If people were not properly resettled, there may be food crisis in the FCT, and I have directed that the people displaced by the crises now squatting in a temporary site at the University of Abuja should be taken care of properly by Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) and National Emergency Management Commission (NEMC).”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council, Alhaji Zakari Angulu Dobi, commended the minister for his prompt response to the unfortunate incident and revealed that all stakeholders of Gwaris and Fulanis across the Gwagwalada Area Council had been invited to be part of the meeting.
Also the Aguma of Gwagwalada, Alhaji Mohammed Magaji, on his part, appealed to residents to stop rumour mongering and to continue to live in peace and harmony.
The chairman of FCT Miyetti-Allah, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu also advised residents to shun rumour mongering and promised that the Fulanis will not carry out any reprisal attack but challenged the authorities that they are waiting to see what actions the government would take against the perpetrators of the crime.
Meanwhile, several relief materials including mats, buckets and food have been provided by the authorities while the temporary shelters being supplied by NEMA at the University Campus will soon be set up.
The emergency meeting was also attended by the FCT Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, Commander, Brigade of Guards, Commandant, Garrison Command of the Nigeria Army; FCT Director, Department of State Security; FCT Commandant, National Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as top government functionaries of the FCTA.