By Senator Iroegbu and Yemi Akinsuyi
With barely 48 hours to the new year, a communal clash erupted in Gwako town at Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over boundary-related disputes on farmlands, with two people confirmed dead, 1,500 people displaced in 27 affected communities.
The clash which occurred yesterday drew the attention of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and FCT Administration (FCTA) to jointly activate their Search and Rescue teams.
It was the prompt intervention of the two agencies including security personnel from the police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the military that helped to curtail the escalation of the crisis which started Saturday as a result of encroachment of herd of cattle into farmlands in the area, before it escalated to a major fight Sunday.
The FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. Aderenle Shinaba, who confirmed the story said his men were still in the area to ensure that there would not be re-occurrence or retaliation from the Fulanis on the people.
The FCT police boss also confirmed the arrest of 15 suspects in connection with the clash.
The Director General of NEMA, Mr. Muhammad Sani-Sidi, commended the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who visited the scene of the clash appealed to the warring parties to live peacefully with one another and eschew any form of violence as we enter the New Year.
Sani-Sidi, who disclosed that two lives were lost and 27 communities affected, said that over 1500 internally displaced people are currently squatting in a temporary camp on the permanent campus of the University of Abuja in Gwagwalada area.
In the same vein, Mohammed who led the FCTA team and other government agencies to assess the impact of the incident appealed to the communities to remain calm as the government would ensure that the causes of the crisis would soon be addressed to enable them return to their homes.
He also asked NEMA to provide more amenities to the victim in the camp and constituted an emergency team for conflict resolution and relief distribution to the affected communities.
Commiserating with about 200 Fulanis, who were taking refuge at the University of Abuja permanent site, the NEMA DG said: “I urge you to take heart and not take any action that will be seen as a reprisal. President Goodluck Jonathan has already been briefed about the incident. I therefore enjoin both communities to live in peace and harmony with one another.
“We assure the displaced communities that all measures would be taken to ensure the security and protection of lives and properties.”
Mohammed, who also visited the scene with FCT Police Commissioner and Commander of the Guards Brigade, and other top FCTA officials announced that relief materials including food, water, mattresses and blankets have already been sent to them and they will continue to be looked after by FCTA and NEMA.
On his part, the Sarkin Fulani, who spoke on behalf of the Fulani Communities, commended the FCT Minister and Jonathan for their timely intervention.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister has called a meeting today.