- IDP crisis hits state as LG bosses groan over rise in refugees
By Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
Less than 24 hours after soldiers drafted to maintain peace in some parts of Taraba State were withdrawn, five persons have been killed by unknown gunmen at Sabon Gida in Donga Local Government Area of the state.
The Chairman of the local government area, Nashuka Ipeyen, who confirmed the killings to journalists, said four persons were killed at Sabon Gida hours after the soldiers withdrew, while an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) was slaughtered at Tunari village.
Besides, three other IDPs who had gone to their abandoned homes to pack their valuables and food items are reportedly missing.
The chairman however told journalists that it took the gallantry of the anti-riot policemen drafted to maintain peace in the area after the withdrawal of the soldiers to prevent the attackers from razing down the entire Sabon Gida village.
Ipeyen however, appealed to the people of the local government to avoid going into the hinterlands until the security situation in the area improves and normalcy returns.
In another development, the Chairman of Takum Local Government Area, Shiban Tikari,Â has described Saturdayâ€™s declaration by the military authorities that they have arrested the mastermind of the killings in Takum and Ussa as laughable and diversionary.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, had in a statement last Saturday, announced the arrest of Danjuma America and Danasabe Gasama whom he alleged to have masterminded the killings in the two local government areas.
Tikari charged the military authorities to rise up to the challenge of discharging their constitutional responsibility diligently and patriotically particularly at this critical period in the nationâ€™s history.
He challenged the armed forces to address the main issues of collusion with armed bandits to kill innocent people and complicity in the killings going on in several parts of the state rather than diverting peoplesâ€™ attention.
â€œWe have been crying on top of our voices that the army operatives of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma were out to for something. How come they have not toldl Nigerians about the arrest of the mastermind of the attack in Jandeikyula in Wukari Local Government where over 25 people were killed.
â€œThey have not arrested the attackers killing our people in the villages since the killings in Takum and Ussa. These two boys they have arrested are indigenes of this area. Would they turn and be burning their houses and killing their own people?
â€œWe have told them the routes the attackers are using to come and attack us, but rather than go into these areas and arrest the armed Fulani militia attacking us, they haveÂ been busy harassing our people in the town.
â€œAs we speak, the Commanding Officer of the 93 Battalion Takum,Â Lt. Col. Ibrahim Gambari, has withdrawn all soldiers at various check points in Takum Local Government Area. So thatâ€™s the type of army we have in Takum now,â€ he lamented.
He, however, disclosed that he has tabled his complaints against the action of the military before the Investigative Panel put in place to probe the alleged collusion of the military withÂ armed bandits across the country.
Meanwhile, an imminent crisis is brewing in the local government areas of Taraba State that have continuously come under attack by suspected militiam as the rising number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is posing serious challenges to the council chairmen.
Residents of Takum, Donga, Ussa and Wukari Local Government Areas particularly those in rural communities have continued to flee their homes to designated camps in the local government headquarters over fears of further attacks or loss of their homes to the attacks.
As at yesterday, THISDAY gathered that the number of IDPs in the three local government councils had risen above 13,000 and the numbers have continued to rise on a daily basis.Â
Similarly, Shiban Tikari and Karma Hassan Rimansikwe, Chairmen of Takum and Ussa Local Government AreasÂ told THISDAY in separate interview, said that there were over 8,000 IDPs in the two local government areas.
The Chairman of Donga Local Government, NashukaÂ Ipeyen, told THISDAY that the council has over 4,000 IDPs and there are possibilities that the number would increase in the days ahead.
Ipeyen, who conducted journalists round the IDP camps scattered across the local government headquarter disclosed that the attacks, which started a week ago in Muzi Utile had spread to other villages including Tormom, Shaakaa, Ovoh,Â Igo and Burukunu.
The chairman stressed that the influxÂ of IDPs into the headquarter has created humanitarian crisis in the council despite the state governmentâ€™s prompt intervention in providing relief materials through the State EmergencyÂ ManagementÂ Agency (SEMA).
â€œThe IDPÂ situation we have is getting out of control. At the last count, they were over 4,000 and more are still coming due to continuous attacks. As I am talking to you, more villagesÂ are being burnt downÂ by herdsmenÂ and people are being killed.â€
Ipeyen further told journalists that over 20 people had been killed across the local government in the past one week while thousands have been rendered homeless in their own land.
Ipeyen however called on the people of the area to defend themselves against their killers using traditional methods including sticks and stones or anything permissible under the law.Â
A Supervisory Councillor in the council, Samaila Ulaha, told journalists that the herdsmen accused some of the villages they attacked in the local government of leaking information about their (herdsmen) movement to Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas
However, the IDPs in the various camps are living in very harsh and dehumanising conditions as there is acute shortage of basic amenities such as water,Â food, clothing and medicals.
One of the displaced persons at Songs Central Primary School, 42 year old Mrs. Terhemba Nyijimi, lamented that though government provided food for them the food could not go round the population as more and more people kept coming to the camps as a result of persistent attacks.
The mother of 10 further lamented that it has been extremely difficult feeding his children in the camp and expressed her willingness to return back home.
â€œI canâ€™t continue staying here for long, feeding 10 children and other relations in the camp is not easy.
â€œSome of them will be resuming school soon and I donâ€™t know how I am going to raise money for their school fees. Again the rains are here and as farmers we need to go back to farm to cultivate what we can eat and also take care of our families.â€