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Untold story of herdsmen, farmers’ clash in Taraba

 

Illiyasu, suspected sponsor of the attack after being arrested by the police PHOTO: CHARLES APEJI

Illiyasu, suspected sponsor of the attack after being arrested by the police PHOTO: CHARLES APEJI

Sunday April 10, 2016 would forever remain indelible in the memories of the people of Dori and Mesuma villages in Gashaka Local Council of Taraba State, following the invasion of their villages by suspected herdsmen. The act led to the massive killings and wanton destruction of houses, domestic animals and valuables.

 

The villages which had in the past enjoyed absolute peace, was invaded on the account that the villagers allegedly prevented some of the herdsmen from raping some women in the villages.

The clash has turned the villages and the headquarters of the Council Serti into a ghost town as residents have fled to the neighbouring country of Cameroon for safety. It was alleged that no fewer than 20 herdsmen invaded the villages in the wee hours of the morning.

Mostly at the receiving end of the invasion which is presently threatening the vision of the State governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku, whose daily slogan has been “ give me peace and i will give you development” as observed by The Guardian, are women and children.While several women and children have been killed, hundreds of them have been declared missing.

Their whereabouts according to one of the security operatives, “is still unknown, but we are doing all that we can to find them.”
“They may have been abducted by the herdsmen. We are optimistic that with the ongoing search by our personnel and some of the villagers the missing persons will soon be found.”

Contrary to the casualty figures made public by the police which put the death toll at 15, some survivors of the invasion want the public to disregard the figure stating that the number of persons killed were more than 44.

The police authorities had earlier claimed that 15 persons were killed. Wondering why the police always indulge in hide-and-seek game, one of the survivors was of the view that had the police worked with the intelligent report and several information made available to them by some persons in the villages, the herdsmen wouldn’t have succeeded.

Some burnt houses during the attack

Some burnt houses during the attack

Not happy with the killings and destruction which has further dent the image of the State, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, has drafted a unit of anti-riot policemen from the nearby State of Adamawa to Taraba to assist the police on ground to track down the perpetrators of the ugly act, which left many people homeless.

Though a suspect believed to be the mastermind of the invasion namely- Ardo Ayuba Illiyasu is presently cooling off his heels in the custody of the Taraba State Police Command, many believed that there is urgent need for President Muhammadu Buhari to take drastic action on the menace of the herdsmen.

Determined not to leave any stone unturned, the State Commissioner of Police, Shaba Alkali, told journalists that plain clothed policemen have been drafted to the councils close to Gashaka to prevent the herdsmen from escaping.

The commissioner, who was optimistic that the police would definitely get to root of the crisis, also revealed that investigation is still in progress, calling on the people who are presently relocating from the villages to come back and continue with their business as the Command is capable of providing adequate security.

Throwing his weight behind the security operatives to ensure that the culprits, are as a matter of urgency, brought to book, Governor Ishaku said he would work tirelessly to frustrate insurgents from accessing the State.

Speaking through his Senior Special Adviser on Media Matters, Sylvanus Giwa, in the wake of the unrest, the governor promised to eliminate any form of insurgency by evil agents within the borders of the State, adding that government will leave no stone unturned in apprehending the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

Sad that a group of unknown gunmen suspected to be herdsmen unleashed terror on people in some villages in Gashak and Bali Councils, the attacks according to him has left 44 persons dead, 5 injured, 6 missing and over 100 displaced women and children.

He also acknowledged the fact that the attack started with the case of rape by the herdsmen which the lady resisted, leading to unleashing of the mayhem on the entire villages.

Meanwhile, The Guardian investigation reveals that while the nearby country of Cameroon Republic has continued to play host to the fleeing and displaced persons, vehicles plying the eastern parts of the country are making a brisk business following the mass exodus of persons from the affected village.

Apart from the Northern parts of the state that have been experiencing peace, herdsmen have been having field day in both the south and central parts of the State.



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