PRESS RELEASE BY PENE DA BWATIYE ON THE RECENT HERDSMEN AND FARMERS CLASH IN NUMAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ADAMAWA STATE
1st DECEMBER, 2017
Gentlemen of the Press
Pene Da Bwatiye wishes to respond to self serving statements, lies and name-calling issued by the Chairman of Muslim Council of Adamawa State on the 23rd November, 2017. The statements were insidiously backed by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and one Senator Danjuma Goje of Gombe state on the floor of the House.
They all alluded to the fallacy that the Bachama extraction of the Bwatiye people had a “Militia” and that our people embarked on “Genocide” and “Ethnic Cleansing”. These are weighty words/ phrases mischievously used to incite well meaning Nigerians and tarnish the good name of our peace loving people. Rather than keeping quiet therefore, we say without fear of contradiction that the world over, it is the Fulani herdsmen that established a terrorist militia which has been terrorizing farmers, eating crops and destroying livelihood all over Nigeria—believed to have killed more innocent people than their dreaded cousins in terror, the Boko Haram and yet without arrest.
Forward to facts of history already in your records as well as the public domain, terrorist activities of cattle herdsmen in most parts of Nigeria have been more dastardly and gruesome. In recent times, 27 persons were killed while asleep in Nkie don community of Bassa Local Government area of Plateau state; 102 people were killed and over 50, 000 houses burnt by rampaging herdsmen in 25 communities where 215 others were brutally wounded. The same herdsmen in Benue State also killed over 500 people and 30, 000 others displaced in Buruku, Kwande, Agatu and other environs of Gboko. In nearby Taraba state, 11 persons were killed and 15, 000 others displaced in Bali Local Government area. This wave of brutality by herdsmen in the southern part of the country did not leave out 40 persons killed in Nimbo Uzo-Uwani Local Government area in Enugu state.
Back home in Adamawa state, these attacks have been incessant, predictable and preventive. In all cases however, security agencies have been lackadaisical and slow to respond even when reports reached them on time. Cases at hand have been Bwatiye villages of Wonamo Koh and its adjoining towns: Goron, Ndikajam, Tabongo, No-ine in Girei Local Government area which were attacked severally by Fulani herdsmen in 2016 resulting in the deaths of 72 people including a Divisional Police Officer where a whole village was burnt down to ashes and property worth billions of Naira carted away. No arrest was made.
Cheap as these herdsmen found weakness of state security services not to arrest and prosecute the aggressors in the villages surrounding Kwa-ine, a Bwatiye settlement, this same band of rampaging herdsmen attacked and killed 11 people including 9 mobile policemen. Still no single herdsman was arrested. This is today repeated by the killing of additional 5 policemen by the same herdsmen at the outskirt of Bolon in Demsa Local Government area even after the recent IGP’s visit to Numan.
Following this Boko Haram styled raid in 2016, the twin villages of Kodomun in Demsa Local Government bordering Numan were attacked by the same herdsmen. The timing of the cowardly attack was most sensitive resulting into the deaths of over 39 Bwatiye (Bachama people including women, children and the aged) who were gathered in their cemetery bury their kin.
These last three incidents attracted a lot of media coverage and the government of Adamawa state set up an Administrative panel of inquiry instead of the Judicial panel to look into the causes of the attacks. As we put on notice today, the victims’ relations still await some closure in form of expected justice from the concluded work of the panel.
It is very important to note that in all three instances that affected our communities, the attacks were said to be reprisals for ‘said previous attacks by farmers in the communities. We shall in due course establish the fact that in all cases of the herdsmen/Farmer clashes in these parts, the Bwatiye farmer has never risen to confront anyone without provocation of cattle eating crops and destroying farms.
We see that at every turn our people have been left in the lurch in the scheme of things on top of which their subsistence farmers are being maltreated with impunity over their only source of livelihood by a people more favored by authorities who have chosen to live in the past in spite of all advancement around them.
Let us now return the matter of the press conference by the Muslim Council of Adamawa state.
It is not by chance that the ignoble role of Fulani herdsmen is being decried and condemned in strong terms across all the geo-political zones of this country and the West African sub-region and someone has the guts to defend them.
It is very instructive and gratifying that the very first paragraph of the press release is an open admission that terrorism in Nigeria and the Northeast in particular is the ‘stocking trade and an exclusive preserve of some self-appointed Muslims’. Is it not unfortunate that in the name and cause of Islam, ‘a religion of peace’ that an adherent of the faith will enter a holy ground and blow up fellow Muslims in a declared war to further propagate Islam?
It is noteworthy that over 20, 000 Nigerians and foreigners have been brutally wasted in this manner over the past several years and most of them are Muslims. We shall later ask who is more inclined to genocide and religious cleansing against Muslims. With great concern over this, we must at this point register our profound condolence to families of the victims of the Mosque bombing in Mubi. This is an evil act so cruel, inhuman and misdirected comparable only to destructive acts by herdsmen against farming communities in Nigeria.
The entire world knows the fact that no Bwata (Bachama person) has ever designed to go a killing mission. The Bwatiye can make bold to say that having lived peacefully for several decades with Muslims in central town of Numan and even with the Nomadic Fulani that traverse our land, we are proud of our peaceful disposition and the earned respect of all the non-Bwatiye. The Hausa settlers whose grandparents made Numan their home are known to our people with whom there have been successful marriages and kindest political gesture of being elected into Numan Local Government Council.
Gentlemen of the press, these opening comments are intended to establish from the onset that that our people are not inclined to terrorism and have been very accommodating of all Nigerians who chose to live and carry their trade including herding cattle and fishing.
It is easy to note that the Muslim Council in tandem with Miyetti Allah organization are ever quick to see every conflict in the light and coloration of being anti-Islam. No one should be deceived- the evidence in each case cannot be overlooked as nearly 20 % of our people particularly those of the Bata extraction on the eastern fringe of the Benue river into Cameroun, are Muslims.
The current issue of the highly unfortunate killings of several men, women and children on both sides, has its origin in the clash between a farmer whose wife was raped and his crops on farm eaten up by a herdsman. The Muslim Council in their statement chose to ignore this truth as their tradition in such situations.
The root cause of the spontaneous reaction was when a Fulani herdsman carrying an AK 47 rifle approached a farm and demanded that the farmer vacate his farm so the herdsman can feed on the farmer’s four months’ toil awaiting harvest. Naturally the farmer resisted the inordinate aggression and in the ensuing argument the herdsman turned his weapon on the poor farmer in front of his wife. Later on the brother of dead farmer was equally shot. His dead body was discovered two days after. Then came the hue and cry of carnage by the Muslim community which without autopsy or separation of the corpses included some Bwatiye victims in the given collective burial.
It is worthy of note that since the bloody Monday killings by bomb in Mubi and mayhem in the outskirts of Numan and the visit of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to Numan, there have been on going and repeated herdsmen raids on several villages: three farmers in Jada Local Government area, another farmer in Wonamo Koh and the gruesome murder of Mr Livinus Ethan, a staff of the Local Government in Girei.
On the heels of all these disturbances, we pose to ask, who arms and sponsors these terrorists group without detection, arrest and prosecution?
What do they want to achieve?
Open and unregulated grazing has become old fashion. What is being clamoured for all over the world and across the country as a solution to herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, is ranching system of animal husbandry. We therefore align ourselves to that suggestion in order to end the costly avoidable bloodshed and destruction to property.
With this in mind we want to categorically state that the terrorist activities of herdsmen are undermining the state security of lives and property and by extension the sovereignty, integrity and corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation.
While we patiently wait for the government to set up a judicial panel of inquiry, we as people will collectively continue to pledge our loyalty to Nigeria as indigenous people. However, let our silence not be misconstrued for weakness in the face of injustice.
CHIEF H. O. TADOUNO
NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT 1
PENE DA BWATIYE