Benue/Fulani crisis: Who is lying?

In the year 2009, following the non conclusion of the national elections of our then national association-the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), I was given the responsibility of running the secretariat as the Interim National Secretary. My first serious assignment, apart from being also the Secretary of His Eminence: The Sultan’s Tiv Farmers/Fulani Cattle Rearers’ Relationship Committee, chaired by the late Emir of Gombe Dr. Usman Shehu Abubakar; was the handling of the case of the entire massacre of the family of Alh. Garke Rabo of Tse-Ande Village of Mbayar, Nyiev District of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State on the 24th of June, 2009.
In an early morning raid, led by one Likita of Tse-Ande Village which resulted in the cold blood murder of Amina Garke (37), eight months pregnant, her two daughters, Hafsat Garke (10), Hannatu Garke (3) her son Musa Garke (5). They were all slaughtered and their bodies buried in yam ridges to conceal the crime. Alh. Garke Rabo, the father of the family narrowly, through the skin of his teeth, escaped when Likita shot him and thought he was dead as he played dead and sneaked away into the bush. He helplessly watched as his family was cruelly massacred and his 248 cows, seven donkeys carted away. To this day, not even one was recovered; they were consumed as community booty.

Having lost 70% of my soul and heart to this horrendous incident, I swore that justice had to be done for this atrocious human tragedy. Having extracted the details of this massacre and the killer squad led by Mr. Likita from the wailing, Alh. Garke Rabo and his Ardo, Alh. Sodangi Audu Maikafi of Guma Local Government, I wrote a petition to the police commissioner, Benue Police Command, Makurdi, dated 10th July, 2009, titled “The Monstrous, Heinous killing of four family members of Alh. Garke Rabo of Guma LGA, Benue State”. 
Three weeks after the wiping away of these family members, the police had done nothing despite my strong-worded letter, part of which read “That one Ango Musa who was over powered by the killers, physically saw Mr. Likita leading the killers before he escaped and hid from where he saw them hacking the entire family to death from a safe distance”. I also told the police that Alh. Garke called his Ardo, Alh. Sodangi Maikafi and told him what happened. Ardo Sodangi reported the case to the soldiers in Guma who accompanied him to the scene only to meet pools of blood in the vandalized compound with no trace of any corpses. 
In my petition to the police, I called on them to interview Alh. Garke, the principal witness, one Tiv man by name Usuume and the Fulani relation of Alh. Garke, Ango Musa and to arrest Mr. Likita and bring him and his killer squad to justice. I also called on the police to ensure the recovery of the corpses of this family and hand them over for a benefiting Islamic burial as this was, at least, going to cool down tempers a bit. I finally told the Police “That as of today, Mr. Likita has not been arrested. Nobody among his killer squad has so far been arrested by the Police. And Alh. Garke has not been interviewed and no statement has been taken from him by the Police, both at the Divisional and State levels, as they are not in touch with the surviving head of this brutally murdered family member”. 
In conclusion, I told the Police Commissioner, the DPO, Ter Guma (The Paramount Traditional Ruler) “This inaction is tactically and summarily intended to bury this heinous crime against humanity by those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting human life which they all know is sacred by all laws. We want to assure these people that this is an unpardonable, unforgiveable and unforgettable human tragedy that must be accounted for either within the arm bit of the law or through any means necessary to forestall the repeat of this kind of human carnage”. 
The question to ask now is - was I a kind of doom prophet, a soothsayer, an instigator or an actor in what has now followed? I am ready, any day, any time, to answer either of these questions anywhere before any constituted authority as a law abiding citizen. Within my conscience and soul, I knew refusing to even acknowledge the commission of such heinous crime by those charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order was never going to bequeath a sane society to the citizens and the country. 
There have since been several repeats of this type of massacre especially Agatu, with the latest happening just in January 2016. In 2013, the Ardo of Agatu, Ardo Barau had an early morning killer squad visit that left him and 10 members of his family, including children, infants, women and men brutally hacked and slain like locusts. The bodies were left gorily strewn within the lifeless compound. 
Not too long after, in the same year, Ardo Mamah Madaki Jaine was invited to the palace of the Agatu Chief of Kokkoro in Obagaji District and murdered in the palace. To this day, the corpse of Ardo Mamah has remained unaccounted for. I could go on and on, on other lesser persons whose lives were similarly wasted. The herdsmen have lost count of their loved ones horrendously decimated in Tiv and Agatu areas of Benue State. 
Matters were made worse by the statements of some leaders that are ethno-religiously inflaming such crisis as the recent statements of Hon. Orker Jev whom speaking to the National Assembly Reporters on behalf of the members of Benue State caucus of the House of Reps, said “We will confront our attackers frontally over the jihad being waged against our people by herdsmen”. He accused the President, Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahaman Danbazau, for acting belatedly after the alleged killing of 500 of their people. If we may ask, who acted belatedly in the last 16 years where the herdsmen in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi State, Niger States, etc lost over 5000 herdsmen? Who acted belatedly over the massacre of the entire family of Alh. Garke Rabo and Ardo Barau? Who acted belatedly when these two Ardos were slain in cold blood in Agatu? 
In conclusion, recently, it was splashed in almost all the media in the country that the Fulani who had abducted two Agatu children had returned them, hale and hearty, to the Governor and they were handed back to their parents. Similarly, the herdsmen have five children in the hands of the Agatu whom they have abducted about three months ago and nothing has been heard about them.
The only reports the herdsmen heard is that they were all killed and that two of them were buried alive. As Fulani leaders, we hereby call on the Agatu to reciprocally also release these boys, to, at least, prove that their action in this crisis was not premeditated as an ethno-religious cleansing of the herdsmen. We hereby put Nigerians on notice by demanding the release of these children. We also call for the establishment of a high powered judicial commission of enquiry by the Federal Government to investigate the immediate and remote cause(s) of these unfortunate crises in these areas. 
Sale Bayari is the National Secretary of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN).


Benue/Fulani crisis: Who is lying? Benue/Fulani crisis: Who is lying? Reviewed by Link Naija on March 22, 2016 Rating: 5

No comments: