Scores Feared Dead as Mambilla Crisis Escalates

By Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

Scores of people have been reportedly killed and several others injured as the raging communal clashes on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State escalated at the weekend.

Though there was no official casualty figure as of press time yesterday, THISDAY investigations revealed that no fewer than 40 persons may have been killed among residents of the Mambilla and Fulani warring groups.

The crisis, which erupted Thursday evening at Nguroje village in Sarduana Local Government Area, was temporarily curtailed between Friday and Saturday before hostilities resumed Saturday evening, spreading to other villages and towns particularly Likitaba and Leme on the outskirts of Gembu, the local government headquarters. 

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. David Akinremi and the Commandant of the 20 Brigade, Mr. Serti were reported to have relocated to Gembu to stop the violence and ensure that normalcy returns to the area. 

Speaking to THISDAY on Saturday before the crisis escalated, Akinremi confirmed the killing of ten persons from both groups, just as he lamented the outbreak of violence in the area despite the series of peace meetings he had held with all the stakeholders from the area. 

According to him “It is very unfortunate that the crisis occurred. I had held several meetings with the leaders and stakeholders of all the ethnic groups on the Mambilla on the need to embrace peace and they gave me their word to maintain peace. But its very unfortunate that this happening now.”

Besides the scores that have were feared killed in the crisis, THISDAY gathered that no fewer than fifty people sustained varying degrees of injuries while several houses were razed.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Darius Ishaku has continued to appeal to the people of the area to sheath their swords and embrace peace. 

The governor, who spoke through his media aide, Mr. Bala Dan Abu, said the Mambilla Plateau was of national and international significance and enjoined the people of the area to live in peace with one another, in order to engender the development of the area. 

He assured residents that the state government will continue to do everything possible to ensure peace reigns in every part of the state while appealing to the well meaning people of the state to complement government’s efforts aimed at maintaining peaceful coexistence among the diverse people of the state. 

Since the outbreak of crisis between the two groups in June last year, which claimed several lives, there have been recurring clashes between the two groups.

The current clashes erupted despite the presence of soldiers and other security agencies in the area.