About 20 persons have been reported killed and 300 cows stolen following a fresh outbreak of ethnic violence on the Mambilla Plateau in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State, local officials and residents told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
A fleeing resident, Saadu Mogoggo, who said his house was attacked at Leme suburb of Gembu, said two of his brothers were killed Saturday evening and their cattle rustled by a group he identified as the Mambilla Militia.
“As I am talking to you, we are yet to bury their corpses,” he said to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
‘’The ethnic militias attacked our residence in Leme where they killed our father last month. During this attack, the Mambillas took away our over 100 cows.
‘’My two younger brothers reported the matter to a nearby military base and a soldier was attached as escort to retrieve the stolen cows. Unfortunately, in the process, my younger brothers were both killed while the soldier fled with injury,’’ he said.
Abdu Gagarau, another resident of the area who said he was speaking from hiding, said, “The burning and killing of the Fulani continued till early this morning. As I am talking to you now, from last Thursday they have been attacking our settlements and over 20 people killed. Some were buried and over 300 cattle stolen by the militias.
“The Mambila ethnic group are known for attacking other tribes. They attacked the Pansos in 1982, The Fulanis in 2002 and in 2017, when eventually we retaliate then the normal shouts of herdsmen will start. Let government be proactive and come to our rescue,’’ he said.
A Fulani community leader in the area, Ahmadu Nguroje , called for government and security intervention.
‘’At least 20 people are feared killed, looting of houses, shops and burning down to ashes by the Mambilla militias along Tapare and Yerimaru axis have been recorded here in Sardauna LGA of Taraba State,” he said.
‘’About 12 others were also wounded and are on admission at a hospital in Gembu,’’ Mr. Nguroje said.
The lawmaker representing Nguroje and Gembu constituency in the state House of Assembly, Bashir Muhammad, confirmed the latest disturbances.
“There have been silent and systematic killings of Fulani nomadic herdsmen in the remote areas in Mambilla Plateau,” Mr. Muhammad said.
‘’It is unfortunate that while efforts are being made to restore peace, the killings continued unabated and many people feared killed between Thursday to Sunday, just as dozens of livestock were killed or injured. I was even told that over 200 cows were rustled.
“Security is grossly in adequate because some of the affected villages are remote and in hinterlands that can take one or two hours to be reached. We want presence of more security, particularly soldiers to ensure peace,’’ the lawmaker pleaded.
Reacting to the report of the attacks, the state governor, Darius Ishaku, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello, called for an end to the violence.
‘’Anyone who takes any life, irrespective of religion or tribe, is a criminal, whether it is on the summits of Mambilla or the plains of southern Taraba and anywhere in this state. And we shall deal with them as criminals.”
Mr. Bello said the governor, ‘’was committed to an amicable resolution of the crisis in the state and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities,” attributing the renewed crisis to “disagreement between two ethnic groups.”
The police spokesperson in the state, David Misal, told our reporter that four people were confirmed killed from both sides of the ethnic groups in the conflict. He added that security officials had been dispatched to the area to restore peace, but that no arrest had been made.
Investigations revealed that the crisis started on Thursday over a land dispute between nomadic Fulani and Mambilla in Yerimaru village and later snowballed into neighbouring villages.