Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
The senator representing Plateau North, where the recent attacks and killings of over 200 Berom ethnic group were perpetrated by suspected Fulani militias, Jonah David Jang, has described the heinous crime against his people as genocide, and an attempt to forcefully take over and occupy the ancestral land of the Berom nation.
Jang’s position was further strengthened by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), who also described the attack as a deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage.
Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO) shared the same view, noting that it had addressed the press on over three different occasions where it cried out to the state and federal governments that the Fulani have driven out the Beroms from over 10 of their villages and farms, and are now forcefully occupying them, but nothing has been done.
But the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) differ in its position as it has justified the killings as an act of revenge following an earlier attack on its cattle.
In a statement signed by his media officer, Mr. Clinton Garuba, the Jang said he was pained by the gruesome killings of “over 200 people in Gashish District, Razat, Ruku Nyarr, and Gana-Ropp in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State by Fulani herdsmen”.
Jang said: “These continuous killings are fast becoming a coordinated attempt at genocide aimed at annihilating our people and stealing our God-given heritage (land). As one who is particular about the welfare and well-being of the people, my heart is with the families of all those who have been deliberately and mercilessly separated from their loved ones for eternity.
“At a time the government of Plateau State is boasting of creating an island of peace, it is a wonder where that island of peace is located. Surely, our towns and villages around the state where people are attacked and killed in their sleep, on their farms, and on rural roads almost on daily basis are not part of that island. It is quite unfortunate that despite all the valuable lives we continue to lose, the government of Plateau as led by Governor Simon Lalong is still living in denial. How many Plateau lives must be violently ended before the governor realises that the peace he claimed to have brought on the Plateau is imaginary?”
On the role of the armed forces, Jang observes that their mode of operation and response to the attacks is worrisome and capable of causing massive apathy and loss of confidence on the part of citizens.
“They continue to attract controversies and accusations of complicity as clearly noted by notable statesmen like General T.Y Danjuma (Rtd). At this juncture, Elder Danjuma’s call for self defence may become the only option considering the situation in Barkin-Ladi where people were left at the mercy of killer herdsmen who had the time and space to maim, kill, and destroy to their satisfaction without any notable challenge by the military formation in the state,” he said.
He said Lalong must display an uncommon will to stand with Plateau people for the fortification of the state from external aggression and attacks.
“Lalong must also stop playing politics with the security situation of the state, as there is no gain in proclaiming a peace that only exists in dreamland while people are being killed on the Plateau. Accordingly, Lalong should also consider reviving Operation Rainbow by funding and equipping it for intelligence gathering and swift response to incessant attacks on the State,“ he said.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement by its state Chairman, Dr. Soja Bewarang, has also said: “The killings is becoming no longer herders and farmers clashes again, but deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the peoples ancestral heritage.”
According to Bewarang, “Barkin Ladi is under siege with more than 200 innocent precious human lives killed and countless driven out in the rains and left without shelter. CAN is also saddened by the news of attack on CAPRO School of Missions (SOM) in Gana-Ropp by the malitias.
“CAN condemns these unholy act of systematic genocide and sees it as a deliberate attempt to destroy the cultural heritage of Plateau people in particular the most affected areas. CAN calls on the government to use its might to bring these killing to a stop.”
While calling on the international community to come to the aid of Plateau people as the security seems to be incapable of contending with the challenges, CAN added: “The soil of Plateau smells with rotten dead bodies as a result of silent killings and besides, many people are missing.”
BECO Publicity Secretary, Gordons lamented that the Berom had held several press conferences where it alerted the federal and state governments that their villages and farms are being forcefully occupied by the Fulani, having killed and chased away the people, who are now refugees in the state, “but nothing has been done by both the state and federal governments to address the situation”.
He said: “Buhari has the power to stop the killings by his kinsmen, if he is willing to do so.”
Also, a former governor of the state, Fidelis Tapgun, has condemned the massive killings, calling for caution and restraint.
He expressed surprise at the number of deaths and level of carnage in the recent killing of innocent citizen by people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Tapgun, in a statement he personally signed, described the recurring killing in Plateau State as unacceptable, especially as some semblance of peace had been restored in the state.
He said: “I appreciate the efforts of the present administration to maintain the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the state as well as the efforts of the Special Task Force in keeping and restoring the peace on the Plateau.”
Meanwhile, in a state broadcast, Lalong expressed deep condolences with the families that lost their loved ones. He described the resurgence of violence in the state as, “a stark reminder of the magnitude of peace and security challenges steering at us in the face”.
He said his government was conscious of its responsibilities of protection of lives and property, and has always strived to meet them “regardless of the threat we face today, we remain resolute in our commitment to arrest the vicious circle of violence, and lay sustainable foundation for peace”.
Similarly, the Chairman of MACBAN, Danladi Ciroma, on Monday, condemned the attacks, but however said in a statement that the attacks were “retaliatory”.
He said: “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled.”