By Sardauna Stakeholders Forum, Jalingo
An armed Fulani attack on peaceful and armless farmers at Nyiwa Village in Mambilla on Thursday, 1st March 2018 sparked off a spiral of herdsmen-farmers clashes across some villages in western Mambilla Plateau in Sardauna LGA, Taraba State of Nigeria.
Initial Attack at Nyiwa Village (1/3/2018)
The Fulani militia attacks began with the shooting to death of two Mambilla men of Nyiwa Community, in their farmland at Nyiwa by some armed herdsmen led in the (alleged) attack by a certain “Maigari Alhaji Gagarau” and his younger brother.
The Fulani herders had previous day destroyed the fence around the farm which the farmers quickly and peacefully repaired but which the Fulani destroyed for a second time within a space of about 24 hours. When the farmers returned to the farm and were about to re-erect the fence, the Fulani gunmen, led by the said Maigari Gagarau and brother (allegedly) opened fire on them from a nearby bush in which they had laid in ambush, killing two farmers instantly.
The head of one of their victims was further machetted to pieces by Maigari’s team. They subsequently shot dead two other Mambilla men. As the alarm of this gruesome killings went round the village, residents scampered about in panic, some rushing to attempt to rescue those trapped by the attack. These, however, similarly came under the same gunfire. The villagers inevitably clashed with these armed herdsmen in the farm resulting in further casualties. According to eyewitness reports, some of the Fulani armed assailants fell victim of their own device too.
This farm, statutorily and repeatedly adjudged and allocated as farmland by the Local Government Council to the Nyiwa Community, was contested in court by the Fulani herdsmen. The Chief Magistrate’s Court, Mile Six, Jalingo discharged the accused farmers, Hamanjoda Nyiwa and others, on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 for want of jurisdiction. The Fulani litigant, Maigari Gagarau Jalike, and his team…, (allegedly) decided to take the law into their hands by resorting to armed attack on the farm and triggered this crisis. But they were also aware of the procurement of arms and mercenaries, whose assault was awaiting any scuffle at all.
Spread of Attacks to Yerimaru (2 March 2018)
These Nyiwa killings sparked off a wave of fighting between herdsmen and farmers in the area. Nevertheless, the Nyiwa attack by the herdsmen turned out to be the head of a series of (alleged) coordinated attacks organized and executed by the Fulani leaders, which quickly spread to other villages such as Yerimaru, Kasalasa, Ngesoo, Yelwa and the Mambilla Escarpment Road. In Yerimaru Village (Furi) on 2 Friday, March 2018, the Fulani staged another attack. A certain herdsman militia leader named Bello Gidado, who lives in Yerimaru drove to the entrance to the village in a Hilux utility vehicle and blocked the road out of the village, yelling, “No Mambilla will get out here alive today”. He was (allegedly) armed with an Sub-machine gun (SMG) and magazines of many rounds of live ammunitions strapped round his waist.
This action of Bello Gidado’s group in Yerimaru sparked off the Yerimaru incident. He continued his shooting spree until subsequently chased off, but not disarmed or arrested, by a Police Mobile Force team. Bello Gidado and other militia members (allegedly) continued their action in another section of the village.
Later in the night, the Bello Gidado militia group (allegedly) launched furher attacks in the Village. Bello was reported to have organized the Fulani militia along with certain Cameroonian elements to attack Mambilla people in Yerimaru Village. They first targetted one Alh. Barkindo, a Mambilla man’s shop but the shop was saved by nearby good Samaritans. With Bello Gidado (allegedly) at the head of the Fulani militia, the Fulani rained down gunfire on the villagers defending the shop and houses. Eyewitnesses reported that the ground was strewn with heaps of exhausted ammunition cartridges “like sand” on the ground at Yerimaru.
It can be recalled that few weeks back, Bello Gidado the armed herdsman and his group disturbed Yerimaru residents nightly with gun blasts as they trained in the use of firearms. Soldiers were called in to investigate the military drills by the Fulani militia and the soldiers gave the Fulani militia a deadline within which to surrender their arms. It would appear that that exercise never yielded the desired result and Bello Gidado and group continued their arms drills with impunity.
Meanwhile, armed Fulani mercenaries were ferried in three Hilux vehicles from Nguroje to reinforce the attack at Yerimaru. The first vehicle passed through Kakara but the last two were blocked and destroyed by residents defending their area. The first Hilux-load reinforcement of Fulani mercenaries joined the fray in Yerimaru, and even unleashed gunfire attack on the Police Station there without any significant resistance from the Police. Eventually, a SARS officer returned fire chasing off the invaders who were, however, neither arrested nor disarmed.
NGESSO and Tela Attacks (3 March 3018)
At Ngesoo, a village in the Leme Federation, also came under Fulani militia attack with (alleged) military assistance from some soldiers stationed at Tela. Two Fulani militiamen from Tela area took along two Army personnel to Ngesoo, claiming that they were on an arms search mission that targetted only Mambilla people. On arriving the village, one of the Fulanis machetted a Mambilla man in the presence of the two soldiers who did nothing to prevent it. There were no men around except some women. The women came to the rescue of the machetted man, and finding difficulty dealing with the women, the soldiers fled from the scene, leaving the Fulani militia to struggle with the women, who eventually overcame the Fulani invaders.
Meanwhile, the Fulanis kept boasting and threatening the indigenous community that the soldiers were here for their own cause.
The two soldiers sneaked back to Tela Village where they were led by other Fulanis to fire at Mambilla women going to the stream to fetch water. Two of the women were shot, one of them known as Hawa was fatally struck by bullets through her heart. Her nine-month old child in her hand was equally shot. The other was shot through her arm. Hawa finally gave up the ghost at General Hospital Gembu on Sunday 4 March 2018, leaving behind her injured 9-month-old infant, while the other woman and Late Hawa’s child are still receiving medical attention.
On Sunday, 4 March 2018, the soldiers returned to Ngesoo and arrested six (6) Mambilla men who were not in the village at the time of the incident the previous day. As usual, the … DPO of Gembu Police Division, Alah Bura, was inclined only to arrest the victims of Fulani attacks but not the attackers.
THE YELWA MASSACRE (Saturday-Sunday, 3 – 4 March 2018)
Reports of Fulani mercenaries arriving Maisamari, Nguroje and Gembu on Saturday, 3 March 2018 were rife by evening of that day. Some of these were reportedly lodged at the residences of a certain Miyetti Allah leaders, Ardo Juli and Ardo Ali in Nguroje. It can be recalled that prior to the 2002 Fulani mercenary invasion, the son of Ardo Juli known as Abdullahi, shot dead a Mambilla youth, Ibrahim Dumna, in cold blood.
The Fulani mercenaries alongside their local militia began action around Yelwa with the slaughter of a Mambilla woman from Takam Village, east of Maisamari on Saturday, 3 March 2018. She was daughter-in-law to a certain Late Nasamu of Takam. The woman was returning from market when the Fulani mercenaries caught up with her and slaughtered her like a ram. Local residents pursued and neutralized 4 of her killers, while others escaped. The following day, Sunday, 4 March 2018, a group of heavily-armed Fulani mercenaries left Maisamari and entered Yelwa in a convoy akin to regular army deployments. These heavily-armed mercenaries selected Mambilla houses in Yelwa shooting men, women and children and burning down the houses. All non-Fulani people in Yelwa, particularly, the Mambilla and Kaka, were invariably affected. Several girls have been reported missing, having been abducted by these ruthless invaders. It became clear that the Miyetti Allah had engaged Boko Haram terrorists well practised in female abductions.
By the evening of Sunday, numberless corpses littered the village and were being evacuated to Gembu Hospital.
Soldiers drafted to Yelwa left quickly and were no more seen in the area by evening of Sunday. The soldiers were neither pursuing nor attacking these terrorist invaders and there were fears of a re-invasion by the marauding terrorists.
MAISAMARI, Tunga and the Mambilla Escarpment (4/3/2018)
On Sunday, 4 March 2018, the entire Maisamari-Tungan Ahmadu-Escarpment highway was taken over by hundreds of armed Fulani mercenaries emerging from Gashaka area. Local residents told of lwo-flying helicopter hovering over the Mambilla Escarpment and the Gashaka-Gumti National Park suspected of dropping arms for the mercenaries. Several people were killed by these mercenaries on the Escarpment Highway. Corpses of Mambilla men and women travelling from Jalingo to Gembu were found strewn on the ascent on Sunday, 4 March 2018. An entire Mambilla family travelling down the Escarpment in a car came under mercenary Fulani gun attack on the Escarpment and narrowly escaped through a volley of bullets to be hospitalized at the Serti Army Hospital.
Afterwards, the terrorist invaders set up a roadblock at the Mambilla foothill near Tungan Ibi, indiscriminately shooting at travelers. The Commissioner of Police, Aderemi’s convoy ran into these mercenaries on his way to Mambilla on Sunday and captured four of the mercenaries whom he took along with him to Gembu.
The children of a certain Fulani known as “Gandi”, who lives around Maisamari, were (allegedly) actively involved in the attacks around the Maisamari-Tunga-Escarpment axis, guiding the foreign mercenaries to selected Mambilla targets. They had been trained in arms use at Dujire bush by a someone described as “Sgt Sangirr” alongside the children of a certain Alh. Faruk of Belel Village near Maisamari. This team of armed trainees were responsible for the 7 January attack and killing of 5 Mambilla men and injuring of 6 others in a private Mambilla home in Maisamari, after meeting held earlier that day at the residence of a certain herdsman known as Kato, near the Maisamari Cattle Market.
These have constituted themselves into a terrorist outfit in the area and have terrorized motorists quite frequently in recent times. The DPO Gembu ensured that they operated without let or hindrance as he ignored all information necessary to arrest and checkmate the rise of terrorism in that axis.
The Village Head of Maisamari, a certain Kadiri, has also been (allegedly) fingered as complicit in the terror organization in the area. The arms drills at Dujire, the terror plot meetings, and the attacks and killings by Fulani militia in the Maisamari axis take place under his ostensible approval and he has accordingly never reported these well-noised atrocities to the authorities.
This infiltration of Mambilla Plateau by foreign terrorists is a repeat of the Fulani mercenary invasion of 2002 in which the terror-sponsoring Miyetti Allah leaders brought in mercenaries from Niger and Chad republics to attack the Mambilla Plateau in a failed attempt to capture the Plateau from its indigenous inhabitants.
In every incident on the Mambilla Plateau in this crisis, the herdsmen have been the unprovoked aggressors while the farmers have been on the defensive. We condemn in totality the hiring of armed mercenaries and terrorists by the Miyetti Allah Fulani association. Those arrested by the Commissioner of Police should be able to provide the required information about all accomplices.
We equally condemn in strong terms the massive importation and distribution of deadly weapons by the Miyetti Allah Fulani group. In this regard, we call for the arrest and prosecution of all known sophisticated arms (alleged) peddlers and users including Saadu Ahmadu of Hanare area, Hamman Gidado of Nguroje, Bello Gidado of Yerimaru, Kato of Maisamari, the Faruk and Gandi youth in the Maisamari area, and all others noted to have connection with the crime.
We condemn with a loud voice the gruesome destruction of lives and properties arising from the Fulani attacks.
We call for the immediate removal of the Mambilla Plateau of the Divisional Police officer of Gembu Division for his open bias against the indigenous populations. He has constantly arrested victims of Fulani terror attacks, as in the Maisamari, Tela and Ngesoo cases. He is simply a Fulani activist and pro-Fulani Police Officer incapable of promoting or maintaining peace in the area.
The initiating attack on Nyiwa farm was part of a well-coordinated schedule of pogroms organized by the Miyetti Allah in Mambilla area, with collaboration from Miyetti Allah leaders outside Taraba State.
Accordingly, we demand the proscription, arrest and prosecution of the Miyetti Allah leaders involved in the dastardly mercenary invasion….
We call on the Federal Government to without delay declare Miyetti Allah a terrorist organization for widespread terrorist acts not only in Mambilla biut across this nation.
We demand the arrest of the Fulani “Mustapha Gembu”, who has been very active in promoting Fulani herdsmen terrorism by coordinating a media campaign of hate and long publication of inflammatory media materials over several months.
We call on the Operation Cat Dance leadership to ensure that their operation is not skewed to favour any group.
We call on every citizen of Sardauna Local Government to remain calm and avoid taking the law into their hands. We shall cooperate fully with Government to maintain the peace we all need.
We condole all those affected in any way by the mercenary attacks.
We also wish to reiterate that the incident is not unconnected with the recent threats of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and that this underscores the need for the highly placed to stop spurring their followers into unnecessary violence.
By Sardauna Stakeholders Forum, Jalingo