Fulani leaders in Taraba state have demanded justice and fairness from the Nigeria Police and Takum local government council over an alleged arrest and killing of their members by the police in the last two weeks.
At a press conference on Sunday, Mafindi Danburam, the North-East Zonal Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, described the arrest, persecution and killing of their members as arbitrary, saying that the development was inimical to peace.
Mr Danburam, therefore, called on the Federal government to intervene and direct the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to come to their rescue and, “save Fulani people from enemies of peace in Taraba.”
He added: “Last Wednesday, March 14, our members went to Bantaje Cattle Market to sell their cattle.
“On their way home, 52 of them were arbitrarily arrested by the police under the instruction of Takum Council Chairman, Shiban Tikare. They were later transferred to the state command in Jalingo.
“Upon reaching the state command, our demand for the reasons of the arrest; charges against the suspects and the statement of the complainant were not made available to us.
“We are really in the hands of elements of destruction who believe that a Fulani man has no right to live and enjoy his right as a citizen in Taraba State.
“Takum is now a no-go area for us. Our people are being killed, their animals maimed but nobody is arrested for these crimes,” he regretted.
Corroborating, Muhammadu Gongola, the state chairman of Tabital Puulaku, said: ‘’It’s unfortunate that this is coming days after the visit of Mr President to the state, we are being attacked, hacked and arbitrarily arrested likes fowl!”
However, when contacted on phone, the Takum LGA Chairman, Mr Tikare, denied the claim levelled against his council by the MACBAN, saying: ‘’We are only trying to separate chaff from the grains.
“There was a mass movement of Fulani herdsmen, so we are trying to halt possibility of any attack, and we handed them to police for interrogation.’’
However, the state Police Commissioner, David Akinremi, had confirmed the arrest of 54 persons, following a tip-up of a mass movement of people suspected to be the perpetrators of violent attacks at Bawe, Panshen, Muji 1 and Muji 2 villages in Takum LGA.
He said his men intercepted four vehicle-loads of people suspected to have positioned themselves to launch an attack in the area.
Mr Akinremi said he ordered his men to bring the suspects to the state command in Jalingo for interrogation to determine their innocence or otherwise.
The commissioner said even though nothing incriminating was found on a set of 43 of the suspects, the police had already conveyed 41 of them to Kashimbilla to ascertain their identities, so that the natives could not blame the police for not performing their duty.
He however explained that the two women arrested together with the men were released after investigation proved they were innocent, adding that the remaining 41 men must also prove their innocence.
The commissioner said a set of five of the suspects confessed to committing cattle rustling while another set of six were believed to be among the perpetrators of the violent attacks in the area.