Internally displaced women from Daffo, Bokkos LGA of Plateau State yesterday filed a petition to the Plateau State Government and State Assembly for an urgent step to be taken to alleviate their plights.

The women led by Mrs. Comfort Mallan during a peaceful rally to the House of Assembly and the State Government House equally demanded the arrest of suspects identified in connection with the attacks in the community.

The full text of the petition reads:

URGENT CALL TO ACTION ON THE PREVAILING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN DAFFO FOLLOWING RECENT ATTACKS BY FULANI HERDSMEN

It is no longer news that Daffo District, a community of about 25,000 people of voting age was recently hit by violent attacks by criminal elements believed to be Fulani herdsmen that have been resident in the host communities for years.

Our cries with regards to the devastating carnage that occurred on January 24, 2018 at Farundong-Hai and March 8, 2018, which started from Nghakudung and spread to 7 other villages leading to 32 deaths, 10 severe injuries, displacement of over 7,000 from 9 villages and the missing of 10 others are contained in different media reports and official petitions.

We wish to acknowledge the prompt response of the government – civil and military authorities to the aforementioned attacks which culminated in the deployment of troops to suppress the violence and prevent further loss of lives and properties. Though grossly inadequate, we believe that without such rapid response, the attacks could have deteriorated to catastrophic proportions.

However, it is imperative to call the attention of the government at all levels, security agencies, civil societies, the media, religious bodies and other kind-spirited individuals to the prevailing and/or incipient humanitarian situation facing us the victims of those attacks. Presently, we numbering at least 7,000, comprising mainly women and children are faced with the most threatening state of healthcare, destitution, poverty, hunger and food insecurity as a result of the violent displacements during the attacks.

As you may be aware, different studies indicate that hunger is related to poor health outcomes, including a higher risk of depression, violence and suicidal ideation in adolescents, and chronic conditions, particularly asthma. In addition, nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, are known to impair learning and cause decreased productivity in school-age children, and maternal depressive disorders.

This therefore implies that while the violent aspects of the crisis may have been contained, a bigger and perhaps more threatening conflict still stares us in the face. Indeed, resource scarcity, poverty, inequality and structural imbalances are among the top known conflict triggers which when left unattended could result in even greater losses. In fact, poverty as it is said creates powerlessness to determine the quality of life, and compounds vulnerability when conflict or natural disaster strikes.

Already, many of us have been completely thrown off balance having been parted with their lifetime investments in food crops, houses and other properties. Many again still face threats of losing their farmlands to the marauding Fulani who are reported to have commenced trespass into our farmlands, clearing and tilling, obviously for the purpose of cultivation as the farming season approaches. This is in addition to the trauma already built up in our minds and the fear of insecurity which might not allow us resume and face our normal socioeconomic lives with the required vigour to flourish.

In the light of the above, we wish to make the following demands as a matter of urgency:

1. Adequate security should be supplied to the affected communities and the same strategy employed to guard farmers in the northeast and elsewhere on their farms should be employed to enable our farmers pickup economically. Considering that the 2018 rainy season has commenced, any further delay in ensuring that these villagers return to their ancestral homes and farmlands would create severe food shortages and debilitating poverty.

2. Sufficient food, clothing and other necessities of life should be urgently supplied to us to reduce our sufferings and enable us face life with ease.

3. Proper compensation and rebuilding of the damaged communities is hereby demanded of the government in line with its obligations and the citizens' rights to security and social welfare. According to the records, 1017 houses were razed down during the attacks. Other assets that were either burnt down or looted include; livestock, household appliances, vehicles, water pumping machines, electrical generating sets, assorted foodstuff, cash sums of money, furniture and other valuables worth millions of naira. Thousands of school children are equally out of school, losing study time and facing threats of being dragged into various social vices due to restiveness and illiteracy. 

4. The Fulani suspects arrested on the 8th, 9th and 10th of March 2018 after the killings with various exhibits including sophisticated weapons and looted livestock must be publicly prosecuted and the villagers constantly updated on each level of the law enforcement process.

5. Other suspects currently at large should be fished out and made to face justice to serve as deterrent to others. Already, some of the victims know and can identify some of the attackers.

6. We wish to call for the proscription of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), which is the umbrella body that stokes herdsmen into killing spree. This is particularly considering the devastations the killer Fulani herdsmen have caused which to a large extent fit into the definition of terrorism as contained in the Terrorism Prevention Act (2011) as amended. Already, the herdsmen have been named the fourth deadliest group in the world in the 2014 Global Terrorism Index.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, Fulani herdsmen attacks in Nigerian local communities had killed 3,000 people between 2013 and 2010 alone, thus an average of 750 people were killed by the herdsmen each year. Considering the heightened tempo of killings by herdsmen in Abia, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Enugu, Kogi and a host of other places from 2014 to date, the human casualties should have more than doubled those of the proscribed Boko Haram. Consequently, this justifies the clarion call to proscribe the group for its enormous crime against humanity.

7. We further demand that community leaders should be empowered to in conjunction with security agencies enforce resolutions/agreements reached at peace and/or security meetings with relevant stakeholders.

8. The constitutional provisions empowering traditional institutions to decline hospitality to anybody they consider as a threat to their subjects physically, psychologically or economically should be strengthened and emphasized at security meetings.

In conclusion, we believe that as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), once warned, under-nourishment and starvation should not be considered less serious than blatant violations of other human rights.

In this regard, we wish to demand that these prayers be urgently attended to without any further delay. Failure to do so would amount to a confirmation of the failure of elected officials to uphold their oaths of office, thus portraying governance as a failed venture in the eyes of the citizens. Thank you and God bless you as we await your swift response to this matter.

Signed:

Mrs. Comfort Malan on behalf of Internally displaced women from Daffo

CC;
Commissioner of Police, Plateau State,
Plateau State Director, Department of State Securities (DSS),
Commandant, Civil Defense Corpse (NSCDC),
Commander, Special Task Force (STF), Plateau State,
Coordinator, Operation Rainbow, Plateau State,
Hon. Sunday Malo Muchen, Plateau House of Assembly,
Hon. Sylvanus Wallamko, Plat. Min. Economic Planning.