Six NGOS working with Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria on 11th April arrived Taraba state on a special Human Rights investigative work which took us about five days. On our stay in Jalingo capital of Taraba state, we were able to visit the three senatorial districts. The North, South and Central. The following information was gathered from our trip.On 13th of April the team visited the northern senatorial district. Lau Local Government and the following villages were covered; Lainde Jessi a village where they were attacked during a burial of victims according to one of the villagers Evangelist John CRCM church. He said that crisis and fight was not serious in Lainde Jessi that it was at night that they came and attacked them but it was only one boy that was killed and the villagers protested and went to bury the boy then the attackers came and attacked them and five (5) men were killed at the process and houses were burnt down. This happened in LAU LGA and we proceeded to a village called Katibu where the entire villages were wiped out within a day by the Fulani Herdsmen in just a night all in the Northeast and Northern senatorial district of Taraba State Jalingo.14th of April 2018, the team proceeded to the Southern part of the state; we headed to Takum Local Government Area where the team met a group of protesters with black coloured inscriptions demanding for the withdrawal of the Army. The team was informed that they were highly brutalized by the Nigerian Army and were disarmed even when they are not protected and are killed on a daily basis and the Army also went ahead stealing their belongings such as money, phones and foods and as well arresting their youths for doing nothing. The military denied this allegation.
On the 15th of April, the team covered the central senatorial district covering Geshaka, Bali, Mambilla and Gembu where many structures were destroyed and the military are still on ground to maintain peace within the community. The team observed that activities are going on well both Fulani’s and the community are living together and grazing is still going on.one of the victims discloses to the team that the attacks are mostly at night.From the totality of our findings in Taraba State and drawing from the ugly reports from Benue, Nasarawa and other affected states, we are convinced that what is going on is not herders versus farmers clashes but pure acts of terrorism by armed Fulani herdsmen. The federal government clearly has failed to fulfill the constitutional obligation which clearly specifies that the security and welfare of the citizens are the primary objectives of Government as enshrined in section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended). Section 14 (2) (b) states thus: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
From our observations in Taraba State, we met a citizenry that have lost hope that government especially the federal government has the will power and political will to discharge the binding constitutional obligation to protect their lives and properties from the well-coordinated attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.Therefore, we recommend that the State Houses of Assemblies should draw strength from part II, section 7 of the constitution and create armed vigilants to provide the necessary complimentary security of lives and property of Nigerians in those states. Part II, section 7 of the Nigerian constitution states thus: “The House of Assembly of State shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the state or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say- (a) any matter not included in the Exclusive legislative list set out in Part I of the second schedule to this constitution; (b) any matter included in the concurrent legislative list set out in the first column of Part II of the second schedule to this constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and (c) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.”We totally condemn the invasion of armed thugs into, the National Assembly and we suspect that these hoodlums are uncomfortable with the disposition of the senate in condemning the lack of efficiency and effectiveness by the armed security forces to stop the mass murders by armed Fulani herdsmen. We condemn the attempts to destabilize the National Assembly and hereby call on Nigerians to defend the institution of legislature so a law can be made to permit for compulsory military training for all adult Nigerians and the liberalisation of licenses to carry gun so sane Nigerians can be able to defend themselves from being killed. This is in line with section 220 (1) of the constitution which states thus: “The federation shall establish and maintain adequate facilities for carrying into effect any Act of the National Assembly providing for compulsory military training or military service for citizens of Nigeria.” Government must declare Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners Association as a terrorists group, arrest and prosecute mass murderers and ensure that they are punished. Government must never pamper mass.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).