Taraba Killings: More Facts Emerge on How Ishaku’s Complaints Against Army Were Ignored

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Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

Contrary to allegations by the military authorities that the Taraba State Government did not cooperate with it in its bid to put an end to incessant killings in the state, fresh facts have emerged that the state government made series of efforts to complement the armed forces.

Responding to the alarm raised last Saturday by former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), of ethnic cleansing in the country and the complicity of the armed forces in aiding bandits to kill people, army authorities have accused Taraba State Government of not cooperating with it in the discharge of its mandate.

In a statement signed by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, the army stated that the Taraba State Government did not cooperate with the Nigerian army at the inception of Ex Ayem Akpatuma due to the army’s insistence to remain neutral.

But fresh facts have emerged that contrary to the army’s allegation, the state government had availed the army of support particularly in terms of information and logistics.
THISDAY however gathered that the frosty relationship between the state government and the army arose following deployment of military investigators in February 2018 to investigate the Chairman of Taraba State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa-Ibi, the Aku Uka of Wukari, without informing the state governor who is the chief security officer of the state.
And to express its displeasure over the development, the state government wrote a protest letter to the Chief of Army Staff on February 23.

Similarly, the state government had written letters of complaint against the Commanding Officer of 93 Battalion in Takum in which it highlighted series of bias and discriy conducts while discharging his duties.
A point of reference of the CO’s alleged misconduct was the release of 224 cows abandoned by herdsmen that attacked Takum and Ussa Local Government on May 6, 2017.

In a ploy to arrest the perpetrators of the attacks, the Taraba State Government took possession of the abandoned cows and handed them over to the Commanding Officer who later released the cows without arresting anybody.
The CO was also accused of marching soldiers to attack and brutalise communities in Kashimbilla leading to destruction of property and affliction of injuries on innocent villagers.
But despite the series of allegations and letters of complaints against the CO and an advice that he be transferred, the letters were not acted upon and the advice was ignored.

Again, on January 30, 2018, the state Governor, Darius Ishaku, personally signed and dispatched a letter to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo complaining about the conduct of the CO, Lt Col. Ibrahim Gambari.
In the letter, the governor complained that soldiers of 93 Battalion always look the other way each time herdsmen came to kill innocent people in the area.

Also in the letter, Ishaku lamented that though the security situation in the state demands all security officer to cooperate and take directives from him as the chief security officer, that has not been the case with the CO.
In the letter to the VP, the governor went further to list instances of security challenges in which the army failed to live up to expectations one of which was the kidnap of a member of the state House of Assembly, Hosea Ibo, at a residence right opposite the army barracks on December 30, 2017, was subsequently killed 15 days later.

Another instance raised in the governor’s letter was the attack on the vehicle of Takum Chairman oil Takum-Wukari road on January 28, 2018 which resulted in the death of a student of the State’s College of Health Technology, Taking as well as the kidnap of a businessman, Chidiebere Okonwa on January 28, 2018. The kidnapping also took place right in front of the army barracks.

THISDAY also gathered that the state government had written series of letters to the army authorities with the aim of getting the military to act timely on intelligence reports to avert planned attacks.
When contacted to confirm the authenticity of the letters purportedly written by Ishaku, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the governor, Bala Dan Abu, affirmed the authorship of the letters by the governor, adding that Ishaku has always been proactive on issues affecting the security of lives and property of the people of the state.

According to him, “The governor actually wrote several letters to the presidency and military authorities in the country regarding security issues in the state but I cannot disclose the contents of the letters to you. The governor as the chief security officer of the state is very proactive and is ever ready to go extra miles to protect the lives and property of the people of the state.”