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By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
Agents of death in the early hours of Friday, invaded Te’egbe village in Miango district, Irigwe chiefdom, Bassa local government area of Plateau State, killing not less than 10 people including children and the aged.
The incident happened when the villagers were asleep and the invaders woke them up with sporadic gunshots and the burning of houses and food barns.
Recalled that on Tuesday, two men were ambushed and killed while working on their farm at Ancha, another village in the locality.
The State Police Command which confirmed the incident in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, ASP Gabriel Uba said, “On 26/11/2021 at about 0130hrs, the Command received a report of an attack by yet to be identified gunmen at Te’egbe Village of Bassa LGA of the State. Upon receipt of the report, the Commissioner of Police Plateau State Command, CP Bartholomew Onyeka, immediately drafted a tactical team of the Command to the scene to avert a further attack.
“Unfortunately, 10 persons were killed and about 30 houses set ablaze by the attackers. The Commissioner of Police further led other Senior Officers of the Command to the scene for an on the spot assessment and to console with the victims of the attack. The CP has directed that discreet investigation be carried out and assured the Community of his readiness to fish out the perpetrators of this barbaric act.”
Earlier, Davidson Malison,
National Publicity Secretary, Irigwe Development Association, IDA had told Saturday Vanguard, “Te’egbe village was attacked by Fulani militia at about 1 am of today, Friday, November 26, 2021. No fewer than 10 persons were killed and several houses, as well as food grains, burnt down while others sustained varying degrees of injuries. It is quite a sad development to the entire Rigwe nation that the marauders have continued the perpetration of their evils against the innocent Rigwe People.
“Just this week Tuesday, November 23, 2021, they ambushed and killed two persons at Ancha village of the same district and now a devastating one today.
Nothing short of ethnic cleansing could this be regarded as.”
Those killed were identified as Gara Kuh 80years old, Mweri Chogo 85yrs, Friday Musa 45yrs, Daniel Mariah 46yrs, Tala Gara 68yrs, Wiye Gara 67yrs, Yoh Bala 4yrs, Rikwe 65yrs, Tabitha 6yrs and Sibi Danlami 4yrs.
But the State leadership of Miyyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN has refuted the claim that Fulani herdsmen carried out the attack saying such claim reveals “hatred against the herders.”
Muhammad Abdullahi, State Chairman, MACBAN, in a statement said, “It has just come to our notice that an unfortunate attack was meted on the local community of Te’egbe village. We sympathize with family members of those that lost their lives, and also seek Allah healing of those injured. As we condemn and abhor the attack and subsequent killings of innocent persons, we however reject and also condemned in strong terms the allegation labelled against our people, by the Publicity Secretary of the Irigwe Development Association, Davidson Malison.
“It is our firm believe that making such allegation against the Fulani, was nothing but mere hatred against the herders. We also say the allegation was falsehood, the Irigwe people should have allowed the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the attack before jumping to conclusions based on perceptions. We see such action of the Irigwe spokesman as an attempt at discouraging security agencies work towards apprehending the perpetrators.”
However, the State Governor, Simon Lalong has expressed anger over the development saying it is “the handiwork of criminals that are bent on instilling fear, pain and sorrow among the people with a view to destabilising the State and making fortune from their criminality as well as rupturing the substantial peace attained.”
A statement by Dr Makut Macham, his Director of Press and Public Affairs, reads in part, “The Governor totally condemns the attack and says there is no explanation that can justify it. He, therefore, directs security agencies to take immediate and drastic steps to apprehend the perpetrators and ensure that they pay for their crimes. The persistent attacks in this general area remains condemnable and unacceptable to Government.
“As such, no resources and efforts will be spared in painstakingly following up on the trail of those who derive joy in attacking and killing innocent citizens and destroying their homes and means of livelihoods. I expect the security agencies to deploy everything at their disposal to arrest those who carried out the crime no matter how long it takes. Government will not take any excuse for failure to achieve this directive.”
The Governor also directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Peace Building Agency (PBA) to “immediately visit the area and assess the level of damage with a view to carrying out immediate intervention and bringing succour to people who are in need as a result of the barbaric attack.”
Meanwhile, the Director General of the State Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang whose Agency has been working to ensure peaceful coexistence, described the attack as “a clog in the wheel of our collective progress.”
His words, “The resurgence of violence occasioned by attacks on communities in Bassa Local Government Area by gunmen leading to the loss of precious human lives and property in the last couple of days is not only worrisome but; constitutes a clog in the wheel of our collective progress. We are appalled by this renewed onslaught on hapless citizens and we truly commiserate with those affected by these recent attacks particularly those who lost loved ones.
“Just when we thought the investment, in both human and material resources, that the PPBA, the Plateau State government and the Plateau State Inter-Religious Council, IRC, as well as, other non-state actors have committed to rebuilding the peace in the locality especially in the last few months was beginning to yield results, the unfortunate incidents of the last few days especially the coordinated attack on Te’egbe community threatens to undermine our modest achievement at healing the wounds of the past as well as rebuilding confidence amongst the people of the area.
“Recall that last August, the State Governor, Simon Lalong engaged leaders of both Irigwe and Fulani communities in a series of meetings toward finding solutions to the protracted conflict in the area. Similarly, the PPBA with support from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) also followed up with series of facilitated dialogues with critical stakeholders in order to find lasting solutions to the attacks. Therefore we find this sudden relapse not only disturbing but highly condemnable.
“… We cannot afford to despair at this point that we are about to evolve enduring solutions to the Bassa conflict. This development, unhealthy as it seems, calls for even stronger collaborative efforts among all stakeholders in order to weed out from our midst these unscrupulous elements who are bent on bringing down the roof upon everybody’s head.