The hearing in absentia of a memorandum by Pastor Joshua Daudu, District Head of Bassa in Nasarawa State, which accused the Fulani of using mercenaries to attack his people yesterday led to a drama at the sitting of the panel on Nasarawa killings, reports Sanni Onogu, Lafia
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the killings in Nasarawa State was yesterday told how the negligence of the government and security agencies led to the killing of 107 Eggon indigenes when their villages were invaded by mercenaries.
This was contained in two memoranda heard in absentia by the Justice Joseph Gbadeyan-led commission in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, yesterday.
The first memorandum was submitted by the Ward Head of Eggon Ruttu, John Allu and Peter Galilee Ezhim, on behalf of the affected communities in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The second memorandum was submitted by Nuhu Kagbu and Bala Ayaka on behalf of Iggah Community in Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area.
According to Allu and Ezhim, Governor Tanko Al-Makura and security agencies allegedly failed to intervene when 19 Eggon villages were invaded four times.
They alleged that 56 Eggon indigenes were killed in the attacks carried out by mercenaries.
Properties were also destroyed.
The panel was set-up by Al-Makura following the alleged killing of over 50 policemen and operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) in an ambush by members of Ombatse in Alakyo village, last May 7.
Following the withdrawal of the Eggon communities in Ruttu and Burum-Burum from the proceedings, Justice Gbadeyan ordered the Commission’s Secretary, Abubakar Sadiq Ishaq, to read the memorandum.
The Eggon communities alleged that between January 12 and February 2 armed groups they referred to as “mercenaries/militia” allegedly invaded 19 villages, killing 56 persons without provocation.
They said: “It was also observed by Eggon people that as the attacks were continuing, the resident Fulani were seen running alongside Eggon and other people to Doma and other nearby towns for safety. This gives us further credence to the impression that foreign mercenaries were used in the insurgence.”
They added that the Burum-Burum community which is inhabited by Alago, Eggon, Gwandara, Tiv, Hausa, Fulani and Igbo people was invaded four times in two months because security agencies and the state government did not respond to distress calls for intervention.
They noted that the different tribes had “lived in peace with each other over the years with incidences of inter-tribal marriages.”
The communities added: “Suffice it to state that in all these incidences, distress calls were placed to law enforcement agents but none showed up. Our people were left at the mercy of God, their strength, and the mercy of the invaders/attackers.
“All efforts to get the government to intervene even when they were informed of these impending attacks ahead of time failed.”
In their demands, the communities urged the government to be more proactive in future by living up to its responsibility of protecting lives and properties.”
Also yesterday, Eggon leaders from Iggah community in their memorandum submitted by Nuhu Kagbu and Bala Ayaka, called for the prosecution of persons or groups that allegedly invaded and killed their kinsmen.
Kagbu and Ayaka accused security agencies in state of failing to stop three attacks on their communities by mercenaries which led to the killing of 42 persons.
The memorandum accused Gwandara youths of aiding and abetting the mercenaries to raze Eggon villages.
They insisted that the government and security agencies failed in their duty to protect lives and property when suspected mercenaries invaded Eggon villages thrice, killing 42 persons between February 2 and March 17
The memorandum reads: “The mercenaries were heavily armed with charms worn all over their bodies and with assorted sophisticated guns as the sound of the shooting is heard in far away communities.
“Usually, they came in large numbers, shooting sporadically and at sight, thereby causing panic, pandemonium, fright and deaths. Equally, after shooting, they would set the houses at sight ablaze.
“It is equally worthy to state here that while these killings and destruction of properties were being perpetrated by the mercenaries, some youths who happened to be of Gwandara extraction rose and began setting people’s houses ablaze while some of the mentioned communities like Iggah were caught and brought to their chiefs who identified them to be his subjects, but subsequently pleaded that they should be forgiven in the interest of peace and harmony.”
Counsel representing Kwandare Community at the panel refuted reports that the community has withdrawn its memorandum .
The lawyer, Ubandoma Abdullahi, said the petition which was submitted by Alhaji Musa Darinya (Ubangarin Kwandare), Alhaji Aliyu Maigida (Makungijin Kwandare), Alhaji Iliyasu Galadima (Wambai Kwandare), Mallam Abdullahi Galadima and Mallam Aliyu Oboshi on behalf of Kwandare community, “is still very much intact before the Commission.”
He said: “The publication was made in error. The memorandum by the Kwandare Community is still very much intact before the Commission. I also want to state that at no time was the submission withdrawn.
“We are very much ready to go on with the memorandum which was duly filed before the Commission and slated for hearing this Thursday. In fact, because of the over-zealousness of my clients to move the memorandum, they were before the Commission today (yesterday).
“We want to say that the publication should be retracted as it does not reflect the true position of Kwandare Community on the memorandum which will be coming up for hearing on Thursday this week.”
CULLED – THE NATION