The recent attack by Fulani herdsmen on a community in Adamawa State left 20 dead and many others injured. Daji Sani writes on the rapid response from individuals and the federal government to ameliorate their plight
“Let me start by appreciating you for showing concern and donating relief materials to ameliorate our suffering occasioned by the Fulani herdsmen attack, the same people that we have been living peacefully with for decades.”
Those were the words of Elder Pius Remount of Kodomun Village in Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa State, another area recently attacked by Fulani herdsmen which resulted in the killing of 20 persons with many others reportedly injured and the village completely razed to ground zero.
Remount who couldn’t hide his joy, was appreciating a high-powered federal government delegation from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Babachir David Lawal, led by the Senator representing Adamawa South senatorial district, Senator Ahmed Abubakar Moallahyidi who was accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Policy, Development and Analysis, Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel and many other dignitaries, who visited the victims of the attack at Demsa Primary School, where they are currently taking refuge.
Remount also appreciated the prompt and timely response by the federal government to come to their aid at the time they were in dire need of help and encouragement, following their ordeal with the Fulani herdsmen that led to their fleeing their native home to take refuge in Demsa Town.
He particularly thanked Senator Moallahyidi for the passion he has shown since they were attacked by herdsmen.
“I wish to thank our senator for his second visit, since the incident happened he has been up and doing. This has proven that he is a leader that listens to the plight of the members of his constituency. Therefore, we are grateful that you have taken your time to come and sympathise with us,” he said.
Some members of Adamawa South senatorial district who spoke to THISDAY in Numan, Ganye, Jada, Demsa and Mayo-Belwa Local Goverment Areas, have also lauded Moallahyidi’s constituency projects which they said have impacted positively on the youths and women in his constituency.
According to them, he does not discriminate whether you are a Christian or a Muslim or you belong to different tribe from his, describing him as a true democrat who is always on time when anything happened in his constituency. “He is a silent achiever,” they noted.
But Remount lamented that it was not easy for them because they lost many of their relatives and their houses completely burnt down by the herdsmen with many injured and hospitalised at the Specialist Hospital in Yola, the state capital.
He lambasted the traditional ruler and DPO of Demsa for not taking prompt action to avert the situation even though they were duly communicated on good time and also accused the security of gross negligence. “If the police have acted promptly they would have averted the situation,” he said.
He has also appealed to the federal government delegation to advise the leaders in the state to take prompt action when they get privilege information that some group are planning to launch an attack.
Some of the children and women, according to Remount, sustained various degree of injuries noting that many children were forced out of school because of the incident. He said if the crisis was not resolved before schools resume, it means their children will continue to stay out of schools until normalcy returns.
He added that they want the security authorities to secure their native home so that they could return even as he raised the alarm that they learnt from reputable source that the Fulani herdsmen were in possession of sophisticated weapons and have vowed never to allow them return to their homes again.
Adamawa State Governor, Alhaji Bindo Umaru Jibrilla, has been called upon to set a panel of enquiry to look into the remote causes of the killings in Gerei and Demsa Local Government Areas by suspected herdsmen.
The Bwatiye Association Worldwide, an umbral body of the Bwatiye people in Adamawa made the call during a press briefing in Yola. The President of the group, Mr. Hezron Fada, said the attack on the Bwatiye tribe by the Fulani headsmen was a calculated plan for ethnic cleansing.
According to him, “this is an orchestrated plan to destroy some ethnic groups in the country.”
Fada noted that the “activities of the Fulani herdsmen have become a nationwide phenomenon and the government is paying a lip service to it.”
However, President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed that his administration will no longer tolerate acts of banditry and criminality from the herdsmen. The President stated this in his address at the graduation ceremony of Course 24 of the National Defence College, Abuja.
Buhari informed his audience that security agencies in the country had been mandated to adequately deal with such act as it was capable of truncating the peace in the country.
Clashes between herdsmen and farmers have resulted in many casualties across the country for over one year and many have been displaced from their communities forcing them to take refuge elsewhere. While Children are mostly forced out of schools which experts said it might blight their future.
The President further said steps were being taken to rebuild the terror-ravaged North-east.
He said: “Let me state that this administration has been working assiduously in conjunction with our local and international partners, to rebuild damaged communities in North Eastern part of our country.”
Meanwhile, security experts in the state opined that the only way out of the crisis between farmers and herdsmen was dialogue and demarcating a grazing places for the herdsmen with a strong warning against encroachment into farmlands.
They appealed to the two groups to sheathe their swords to allow dialogue and peace to prevail in the area. The experts also called on politicians, traditional and religious leaders and other stakeholders to wade into the crisis so as to put an end to it.
The leader of federal government’s delegation, Senator Moallahyidi during his visit appealed for peace in the troubled areas. He also called for a peaceful dialogue between the farmers and the Fulani Herdsmen.
He told them that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), sympathised with them over the unfortunate incident. The SGF, according to him, described the attack as “barbaric and inhuman and that all Nigerians needed to condemn the attack in strong terms.” He appealed to Nigerians to learn how to coexist despite their differences and background.
After visiting the victims of the attack, the delegation also visited the palace of the paramount ruler of Batta, Hamman Batta, Chief Alhamdu Teneke and appealed to him to use his wisdom and connections to put an end to the crisis. The delegation also expressed confidence in the ability of the paramount ruler to bring the crisis to an end following his wealth of experience and proven integrity.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on Policy, Analysis and Development, Bepetel, said the federal government was determined to find lasting solution to the lingering crises between the herdsmen and famers in the area.
In his response the paramount ruler of Batta, Hamman Batta, Chief Teneke who expressed gratitude to the delegation lamented that since inception of the local government area such a callous act has never happened in the area.
The paramount ruler who promised that a drastic measure would be put in place to address the situation, called for more security presence in the area to nip the crisis in the bud completely. The paramount ruler assured the delegation that something will be done as he said he has organised a platform for dialogue between the two warring groups so as bring to an end the crisis.