Taraba State: We’ve Lost Faith in Federal Government’s Security Deployments

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By Onyebuchi  Ezigbo in Abuja

The Taraba State government has said that it no longer had confidence in the Federal Government security apparatus deployed in the state.

The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Dan Bala Abu who spoke to journalists on Friday, said that although there was relative peace now in Taraba, the state government did not have confidence in the security apparatus of the Federal Government to maintain peace and security in the state.

He said that the people were continually losing faith in the ability of the present crop of security personal deployed in the state to conduct their affairs in a just and equitable manner.

For instance, he said that the people of the state were not satisfied with the way the military posted to quell the security crisis in Taraba state were harassing, disarming them and even collecting their kitchen knives while the attackers wielding sophisticated weapons like AK-47 were allowed to go on a killing spree.

“What we are saying is that even the relative peace we are enjoying now, we still do not have confidence in the military. 

“We are saying that we have lost confidence in the military because nothing has been done to all our complaints that people were being disarmed and that the military are discriminating in the way they doing it. They collect their kitchen knives from them while they leave the other persons who are carrying AK-47. So where is the justice in this matter, that’s why we are saying that we have lost confidence?

“We have the right to say that the people that were posted to restore peace are not doing what is expected of them, that they are biased. It is left for them to find out what is wrong and do what they have do to correct the wrongs being done,” he said .

There have been allegations that the Taraba State government has not shown willingness to cooperate or interface with the security agencies deployed there to deal with security crisis.

However, some top state government officials who preferred to remain anonymous said that the state Governor, Darius Isaku had written several letters to the Federal Government, including heads of security agencies involved in the operations in Taraba State.

The source who also said that state governor had made a written complaint about the unsatisfactory role of commanding officer of the 83 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col Ibrahim Babatunde Gambari.

Copies of letters written by the governor to the President, Vice President, the National Security Adviser, Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police concerning threats to peace and security in the state were shown to THISDAY.

In one of the letters addressed to the NSA complained of the alleged complicity of the commanding officer in the security crisis.

The first letter to the president on the alleged influx of strange herdsmen into Taraba State was written in February 13, 2017 while another letter was sent the President on March 26, 2018 also complaining about the imminent threat to peace and security in parts of Taraba State.

Another letter was also written by the governor to the IGP on the February 14, 2017 requesting for the setting up of Mobile Police post in Tapkun area.

Surprisingly he said there was a military barrack domiciled in Tapkun where most of the criminality have been reported leading to Danjuma’s outburst.

While narrating the Taraba government’s experience with the military, one of the officials accused the military personnel of not reciprocating the regard and respect by the office of the Taraba governor, adding that most of the time they did not do what is in interest of Taraba State. 

They said that governor had written several letters complaining about the actions of the military command in Taraba without any response. 

“It got to time when we started thinking that there is some kind of conspiracy against the security in the state. The governor has done everything to support the efforts to tackle insecurity in the state but the military seem not to be appreciative,” he said.

“One particular incident in which the state government raised the alarm about a plane that was reported to have dropped arms for some suspected herdsmen in the bush and the government wrote to alert the security agencies but got scolded and disparaged that it was a lie,” he said. 

He said that plane was sighted in a place called Gibu and that some days later; some herdsmen were arrested by the police with arms suspected to have been brought in the plane.

The officials also commented on the recent allegation raised by former army chief, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma on the bias by men of the armed forces, saying that the elder statesman spoke out of frustration because he felt very bad about the conduct of the military in Taraba State.

“What Taraba is going through is very bad experience and we don’t want it to happen elsewhere and what the elder statesman is trying to portray is not just about what is happening in Taraba but other places in the country.

“We recognise that the Fulani Herdsmen are part and parcel of the state and the governor has done a lot to stop incidence of cattle rustling. 

“Also the governor has taken steps to put in place a policy that bars one grazing and to build modern ranches so as to avoid Herdsmen/ Farmers clash,” he said.

He said that contrary to views that the herdsmen were opposed to the anti-grazing law, the herders are in support of the policy. He said that those who were opposing the measure were actually not the herdsmen the some external forces.

According to him the relationship between the farmers and the herders had been that of mutual benefits because while the farmer depends on the cattle to help clear up the grasses and use the cattle dungs for manure before cultivation, the herdsmen feed their animals on the farms.

He said that part of the reason why some people were fueling the conflict was because of their interest in land acquisition.

According to the official, the reason why most of the people that fled the conflict areas had not returned was because they did not have confidence that the soldiers would protect them from herdsmen attack.