By Ibrahim Sulaiman
A senator representing Taraba Central, Yusuf Yusuf, has said that dozens of people were killed, over 50 Fulani settlements were burnt and estimated 20,000 cows were killed in a series of violence on the Mambila Plateau areas.
Speaking to DAILY NIGERIAN on Thursday, Mr Yusuf said the attack was directly targeted at Fulani in the area by some groups of ethnic militia.
The senator said the attack continued even on Thursday morning at Hayin Kogi settlements.
“The major towns are now protected but the attack continued on smaller settlements and hamlets. Even this morning, there was attack in Hayin Kogi,” he said.
He called on the federal government to urgently deploy troops in all areas to check the killings.
Sources in Taraba told DAILY NIGERIAN that militia of the Mambila tribe joined by Jukun militia allegedly carried out the massacre.
A citizen reporter, Mustapha Gembu, said in Nguroje, three people were killed; in Sabbal Gudali two people were killed, while in Dorofi (Wuro Ardo Musa) four people lost their lives.
In Bang (Wuro Ardo Yandi), seven people were killed in a mosque while performing Zuhr prayer.
He said according to unconfirmed reports, over 20 people were killed in Kwara Kwara settlement.
A Facebook user, Papilo Ndarup, had claimed that they “killed 27 of them” in some villages. He later deleted the comment, following social media outrage.
A resident of one of the affected villages, Bello Haruna, said the attackers also had set ablaze all the houses in the village and killed many cows, saying he managed to escape alongside his two children and wife.
The Fulani communities in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State have called on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in what they described as genocide being perpetrated against them.
They alleged that a local militia in the area has been killing Fulanis and destroying their property on the orders of the chairman of the local government, John Yep.
In a statement by four Fulani community leaders on Wednesday, the communities said the crisis began when the militia started protesting the arrest of one Umaru CID, a ring leader of the group in Nguroje town by security operatives over land dispute.
“On the 16th of June, 2017 security personal moved in the early hours and affected some arrests in Nguroje during which some suspected ring leaders of a group that has been fomenting trouble in the area got into the net of the security.
“On getting information about the development, the Chairman of the Local Government, Mr. John Yep immediately led some Mambilla Youths to storm Nguroje alleging that the arrests was instigated by the Fulani. This led to a total siege on Nguroje and its environs,” they said.
They also said while the assault lasted, the council chairman “ran across some villages mobilising his kinsmen under their militia group called ‘Mun Nor Ambassadors of Peace’ being the political attack dogs of a prominent politician from the area.”
“Through this process, the council chairman was able to sell a dummy to his tribesmen across the entire local government painting a wrong and malicious picture that his kinsmen, the Mambilla ethnic group, was being attacked by the Fulanis.
“In fact he made a personal Radio message through the Taraba State Broadcasting Service (TSBS) Gembu Booster Station calling on his kinsmen to execute the genocide on the station’s transmissions of Saturday evening and Sunday morning respectively.
“What followed thereafter was a coordinated and simultaneous attack on over 300 Fulani communities
“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we wish to draw the attention of the world to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing being perpetrated against the Fulani in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State in the last four days.
“This carnage has escalated to all parts of the local government and is still going on with full impunity as the state government has remained unconcerned since then,” they said.
Police spokesperson in the state, David Misal told journalists on Wednesday in Jalingo that the violence was caused by a civil case handled by a court in Gembu, ordering the remand of a Mambila tribesman in prison custody.
“The children of the Mambila man went to the home of the complainant, who is a Fulani man by name Mr. Riwi Ahmadu and demanded for the release of their father or else they threatened to deal with him
“When the demand was not met, they actualised their threat by setting ablaze the house of the complainant and inflicted injuries on him and property worth millions were destroyed,” he said.
Mr Misal also said the police swiftly intervened on the matter and arrested those who attacked Mr Ahmadu.
He said more security personnel comprising of mobile and conventional police officers were deployed to the area and that the state commissioner of police, Yakubu Babas, has relocated to the affected area in order to monitor the situation himself.
The police spokesman said seven people are confirmed dead and a number of houses were set ablaze.
Two months ago, a similar clash between Jukuns and Fulani had led to the loss of lives and property.