Daji Sani writes that despite the efforts of the committee set up by the National Economic Council to end the clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country, herdsmen have continued to go on the rampage in Adamawa communities
Recently, suspected herdsmen invaded communities in Adamawa State, killing over 37 people, injuring 30 while several houses were completely razed down.
At the stakeholders’ reconciliation forum of herdsmen and farmers crisis held in Yola, the state capital, before the recent attack on the five communities- Sabon Pegi, Gwamba, Belanga, Sundi and Gidan, the stakeholders agreed that the spate of killings and hostilities must stop to give the committee time to conclude its work.
The Chairman Committee’s Technical Subcommittee Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State had told journalists in Yola, that the governor of state, Mr. Jibrilla Bindow had set up committees in the past to mediate in the conflict but suspicion has not allowed peace to be achieved totally.
However, the Miyetti Allah group had advocated for proper identification of all herdsmen and their cattle in the state so as to know when foreign herdsmen enter the state as it is alleged that these herdsmen are mainly those that do the killings.
Security experts said, the foreign herdsmen the Miyetti Allah was referring to must have been working with an insider to perpetrate their nefarious activities adding that the Miyetti Allah should be in a better position to identify these herdsmen since it is saddled with the responsibility of championing the cause of the local herdsmen.
By the statement of the group, it appears the group lacks the ability to control the activities of the local herdsmen, if not, the group would have done everything possible to persuade the foreign herdsmen from denting their image.
Secondly, they said the assailants always write letters to the communities they wish to attack before they attack which by implication, the Miyetti Allah, the government and the security agencies must have been aware of the herdsmen coming to attack.
At the forum all the groups made their submissions both orally and papers were submitted. “We noticed that the crisis between herdsmen and farmers occurred most in three local government areas which include, Numan, Demsa and Lamurdeb, minor levels in Girei and Shelleng,” said Umahi
The chairman said, in the course of their interactions, the representative of Lamido of Adamawa, Alhaji Mohammed Brikindo Musdafa and representative of Hamma of Bachawa, Stephen Iyrimiya, Commissioner for Livestock Production, advocated for state government to put up strong policy on how to manage the livestock production in the state.
“We noted that we have 31 grazing reserves in the state totaling 105, 646 hectres of land of which the state government submitted that some of these gazetted reserves have been encroached on.
“We therefore recommended that the state and federal governments do group the herdsmen in the state into these gazetted reserves, use the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme to develop them with modern facilities that will guarantee great yield of the cattle, make water, grass available, schools, a veterinary clinic and milk factory production available,” he said.
He said the stakeholders have agreed that with the increase in cattle, crop production and decrease in land, due to climate change, there will continue to be conflict unless cattle movement is restricted into grazing reserve.
Unfortunately the herdsmen were not patient to give the committee time to conclude its assignment and violated the agreement reached at the stakeholders’ forum by their recent killings and razing down of five communities.
The hostilities meted on these communities claimed many lives including the Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Sam Zadock and several prominent men in the affected areas.
According to reports, some people were killed by herdsmen while trying to escape through the River Benue and their dead bodies were yet to be recovered from the river.
The District Head of Gwamba village, Chief. Josaih Ayah, said they buried 37 persons killed by the herdsmen while over 30 people were injured and property worth millions of naira were also destroyed.
He expressed his disappointment over the dearth of security in the country which he said could result to people carrying small guns to protect themselves since the government cannot provide security for its people.
The PDP confirmed the death of Zadock, who was among the 37 persons killed in the attack between herdsmen and farmers in Gwamba Village of Demsa Local Government Area of the State.
Confirming his death, the state secretary of the PDP, Hon. Abdullahi Parambe said the party would surely miss the absence of Zadok who have been instrumental to its development especially in the southern senatorial district of the state.
While addressing journalists in Yola, Parambe said the deceased was also an ex-commissioner in Ministry of Youth and Sports under the administration of former governor Murtala Nyako and had never attempted to defect to any political party.
The party also condemned in strong terms the wanton killings but called for calm as it called on the present government to as a matter urgency stop the killings.
Zadock was said to have been ambushed by the assailants suspected to be Fulani herdsmen on their way to the troubled area to broker peace.
Reports had it that the late former commissioner and his entourage were a stone throw to the troubled areas when they were attacked and killed instantly.
Until his demise, Zadock was the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, in Adamawa State and was an ally to Senator Grace Bent.
Zadock who participated during the just concluded peace initiative between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers headed by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Umahi, called on the immediate redeployment of the Brigade Commander of the 232 Batalion, Yola, for taking side with the herdsmen.
Responding on behalf of the state government, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Comrade Ahmed Sajoh, commended the military for stopping the situation from escalating further.
He said those arrested in connection with the attack would be prosecuted and justice delivered at the end of the day to serve as deterrent to others adding that the government in collaboration with the military authorities have deployed more solders to those affected areas.
The commissioner said the state government sympathised with the victims of the attack and has sent relief materials to the troubled area to cushion the effect of the attacks.
Also speaking, a native of Gwamba Village, Mr. Omayan Tambaya confirmed that 20 natives from his village were massacred while 30 were injured and many houses were razed down as residents flee to a nearby village for safety.
Tambaya explained that the assailants numbering about 50 stormed the village driving in four Hilux vans and motorcycles shooting sporadically at the people.
He said that letters and phone calls were received from the assailants two weeks before the attack and reported same to the police division in Gwamba for necessary action, but was surprised that despite the report to the police, no action was taken to avert the ugly situation
He lamented that the entire Gwamba Village has been razed down and about 2,500 residents displaced as a result of the attack while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
Confirming the incident, the Police Spokesman in the State, SP Othman Abubakar said a combined team of military and police had moved to the village which was burnt down and the residents deserted.
According to the PPRO, while trailing the assailants, one Bula youth was arrested with one AK47 riffle with 41 rounds of 7.62mm while the team moved to Garikiji Village where six herdsmen were also arrested.
Items recovered included one locally made riffle with 25 cartridges, a cutlass, bow and arrow, charms and looted clothes are currently in the custody of the army.