Double Trouble For Taraba IDPs, As Grabbers Sell Off Lands

Darius-Dickson-IshakuIT was bad enough that they had been forced to flee their homes and become refugees in their fatherland. Now, whatever hope some Internally Displaced Persons in camps across Taraba State have of returning happily to their homes faces jeopardy.

No thanks to unscrupulous land grabbers. Upon taking office, Governor Dickson Ishaku had noted willingness to ensure peace in the state and facilitate return of the IDPs to their homes.

But the displaced, some of whom left their camps for the long-awaited journey, as at the time of filing this report, have begun to retrace their steps to the camps they earlier bade farewell.

During a recent meeting with some traditional rulers in the state, the governor again reiterated one of the major concerns of his administration as ensuring the immediate return of IDPs.

Anxious to strike a peaceful note, irrespective of differences among inhabitants, he explained that no chiefdom could exist successfully with people of just one tribe or religion alone. “You must, therefore, put in place necessary measures to ensure peace in your domains.

As a governor, I will not compromise the security of this state. In the same way, I will expect you to help me in bringing peace, which will enable me to quickly launch the state on the path of development.

I will be compelled to hold you responsible if there is breakdown of law and order and will take action, if there are evidence that the security of a place is compromised by a traditional ruler,” the governor said. But beyond fine words, it appears some actors might be out to frustrate the governor’s peace initiatives, and some of these players might even be among the rulers.

It is also evident that the governor has an urgent job to police happenings around his desire to see the displaced people go back to their homes. The dishonest action of persons who took advantage of the crisis and sold out lands and houses of the displaced has cut short the joy of the IDPs.

Some of them who spoke to the reporter, consequently, expressed shock at the action of some “district heads and influential persons” in their communities. With tears, one of the affected persons, John Shagbaor, said the few crops he had managed to cultivate were all lost. “

Herdsmen have grazed their animals on the land. What remains of us, now, is our lives. We want the government to protect us, as citizens of this state,” he added.

Another victim, Anugwan Bayan Dutse, said that his house and those of four others in the area had been “sold out by the district head of the council”. Adema Alema, Vihishima Manyi, Samson Augustine Kyambe all said they met different people in their houses and that upon enquiry, the new occupants said they “bought the houses from Mai Ungwa Tanko Sabon Dare”, a local chief. Another complainant, Adema Alema, said the development is a calculated attempt by some of the district heads, especially those in Bali council, to prevent the displaced persons from returning to their homes, adding that it underscores need for the state government and relevant authorities to wade in, as a matter of urgency.

Another victim, Anugwan Bayan Dutse, said that his house and those of four others in the area had been “sold out by the district head of the council”.

Adema Alema, Vihishima Manyi, Samson Augustine Kyambe all said they met different people in their houses and that upon enquiry, the new occupants said they “bought the houses from Mai Ungwa Tanko Sabon Dare”, a local chief. Another complainant, Adema Alema, said the development is a calculated attempt by some of the district heads, especially those in Bali council, to prevent the displaced persons from returning to their homes, adding that it underscores need for the state government and relevant authorities to wade in, as a matter of urgency.

Some of the affected IDPs have threatened to seek redress in the courts. They also stressed need for the National Human Rights Commission to expedite action on a petition they claimed they submitted in respect of alleged human rights abuses they suffered.

They said had the Commission acted on the petition, made since September 2014, the problem of houses and lands being sold might not have happened. And while all eyes wait for intervention by the authorities, the affected people hope the situation would not snowball into yet another fresh crisis.



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