â€¢Â Northern traditional rulers, leaders meet over crises
By John ShiklamÂ in Kaduna,Â Seriki AdinoyiÂ in Jos,Â George OkohÂ inÂ Makurdi andÂ Laleye DipoÂ in MinnaÂ Â Â Â
The onslaught of herdsmen against host communities continued at the weekend as they unleashed mayhem on some villages in Kaduna, Plateau and Benue States.
Four persons were killed in Kaduna, three in Plateau,Â while a police team on duty was ambushed in Benue.
The herdsmen descended on Bakin Kogi village, Jama’a local government area of Kaduna StateÂ on SundayÂ at aboutÂ 10 amÂ and ambushed their victims who were returning home from their farms where they had gone to tap palm wine.
A lady who survived the attack was said to have sustained serious injuries from gunshots and was rushed to the hospital in Kafanchan.
A resident of the area who pleaded anonymity confirmed the incident on telephone, saying that the attack occurred at aboutÂ 10am.
He said: “The attack took place aroundÂ 10amÂ when they were almost home. We were just rounding up from church when we heard gunshots.
“Everybody had to run because we were gripped by fear. They killed four people on the spot while a woman was fatally wounded. They shot her by the chest and she was rushed to the hospital.â€
He said the herdsmen ran into the bush afterwards. He also accused soldiers deployed in the community of failing to act when the incident happened.
Spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mr. Aliyu Mukhtar, could not confirm the incident as he did not respond to telephone calls and text messages sent to him for his reaction to the incident.
The herdsmenâ€™s raid in Plateau followed the same pattern as an eyewitness said three persons were ambushed and killed in Zangwra community of Miango district of Bassa Local Government Area of the state.
The three were said to have met their death while returning home on a motorcycle. Two others reportedly escaped with injuries.
Those killed were Mr. John Esije, 32; Mr.Â MondayÂ Nzwe, 38; and Mr. Saku Giyeri, 41yrs, while the survivors were identified as Mr.Â SundayÂ Bala, 33 and Mr. Gudu Gara, 25. They have been taken to an undisclosed hospital, a source said.
National President of Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Mr.Â SundayÂ Abdu, confirmed the incident yesterday on phone.Â
According to him: â€œThree people were killed yesterday (Saturday) night by Fulani herdsmen. One of the victims was riding a bike while the two others were walking on the road. This happened at Zangwra village near a checkpoint in Bassa local government area.â€Â
He added that the Fulani had changed their routine tactics of killing their people on the farms, saying that they now ambush their victims along the way.Â
Abdu recalled that three weeks ago, three persons were also killed on Miango Road and their bodies burnt to ashes, explaining that the Fulani shot at the vehicle conveying the three people, adding that the vehicle skidded off the road because its driver was shot in the neck and he died instantly.
Also speaking to newsmen, the District Head of Miango, Mr. Daniel Chega, regretted that the attack came shortly after series of security meetings and agreements with security agencies and the Fulani leaders aimed at ending the killings.
Residents of the area had reportedly staged a protest against the killings but were calmed down by the village chief.
The spokesman of the Special Task Force (STF) code-named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major Adam Umar, who confirmed the killings yesterday, said unknown gunmen at a community in Jebbu Bassa were responsible for the killings.Â
Umar said that immediately they got information that there was an attack, they quickly mobilized their troops to the vicinity but unfortunately, the attackers had escaped before the arrival of their men.
He added that patrols around the area were ongoing, stressing that the Commander of OPSH, Major-General Anthony Atolagbe, would convene a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting comprising the Fulani, the natives and other elders in the locality to resolve the protracted issues.
In Benue, the police confirmed yesterday that two of its men that were declared missing following an attack by Fulani militias on the joint Army, police and civil defence security forces deployed in Tse Akpan near Azege Tombo council ward in Logo local area of the stateÂ on SaturdayÂ night, had been rescued.
Two others are still missing
According to the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, the two were rescued after a duel with the herdsmen militias and have joined their other colleagues.Â
The police had in a statement said suspected Fulani herdsmen ambushed a mobile police patrol team leading to the missing of four Mopol men.Â
The command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, said the incident occurred in the troubled Logo local government area of the stateÂ on SaturdayÂ night.Â
He said the Police Mobile Force Team conducted a robust patrol of Ayilamo in Logo LGA.
“However, on their way back to their camps, they came under attack of a fully armed group of suspected herdsmen,” he said, explaining that in the ensuing gun battle one of the police patrol vehicles caught fire.
Yamu said the casualty on the side of the herdsmen was still being ascertained.
Northern Traditional Rulers, Leaders Meet
Meanwhile, top traditional rulers and some prominent leaders in the northern part of the country met in Minna Niger State capitalÂ on SundayÂ for several hours to find a way out of the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
The meeting was held at the small auditorium of the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Musdafa, led other traditional rulers from the region to the meeting that had Prof. Ango Abdullahi and Dr Aliyu Tide in attendance.
Also at the meeting were the leadership of various Fulani socio-cultural groups, including the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBA), Miyetti Allah Katul Houre and Gan Allah Fulani Development Association.
Addressing the gathering, Sanusi said Fulanis were neither terrorists nor criminals as being said in some quarters, insisting that they were law abiding citizens that respected the constituted authorities in the country.
He, however, urged herders to be patient and persevere even in the face of provocation, adding: “Patience is a strength rather than weakness.”
Reminding the delegates that the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Idris Ibrahim, had been directed to clamp down on anybody who possessed illegal arms, he appealed to state governments, not to arm militias.
He asked the Fulani associations to identify the criminals among them and report them to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution.
He appealed to Nigerians, especially the media to avoid ethnic profiling whenever a crime was committed by persons of a certain tribe, adding that criminals had no tribal marks.
Sanusi urged stakeholders to take advantage of the offer of governors of Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa and Kano states to provide grazing reserves to herders.