The Irigwe Youth Movement in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau State says last Friday's attack in the locality leading to the death of three, including a 5 years old child may have been instigated by the new Special Task Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Chukwudi Agundi.

The attack according to a statement by Mr. Lawrence Zongo, its Miango branch spokesperson occurred few hours after the new STF visited the area, exonerating the Fulani of crimes and accusing the locals of killing cattle belonging to Fulani herdsmen.

The statement accused the STF boss of dashed and bias judgment, without careful understudy of the conflict context in the area.

"The coming of the new STF Commander, Maj. Gen. Chukwudi Agandu, we thought would have been followed by series of consultative meetings as done by his predecessor to acquaint himself with the conflict context and parties, as well as the issues involved for a more informed decision that will favour peace, justice and progress that the Nigerian army stands for. But alas, it is beginning to show that his coming was with a mandate different from what we had expected even though suspected," it said.

The statement adds, "While we wouldn't want to defend any criminal act involving any member of our community, we wish to place on record that we have never resisted any attempt to arrest any erring member of our community and therefore view these charges as baseless and acting of a script by the new Commander of STF."

The youth group condemned the relocation of the immediate past STF Commander which it said came at a time meaningful results were being achieved in the fight against crimes.

The group said, "First, the transfer of the immediate past Commander of the STF,  was unacceptable to us.

"This is because the transfer came just when we were beginning to see meaningful actions in the fight against terrorism and all of forms criminality in the state.

"The former commander and his officer's and men after a period of painstaking understudy of the security situation in the state devised measures to curb all forms of attacks and trespass, dealing with everyone fairly and justly and was beginning to restore confidence of the people on operation safe Haven."

It expressed worry that the latest attack not only followed the Commander's visit but had the attackers coming from the direction of a military Barrack.

"The latest attack where three were killed was reported to have been carried out by well armed Fulani herdsmen who came from around the Rukuba military Barrack, located few kilometers away from the Zanwra village where the attack took place," its statement explained.

The three killed, identified as Mr. Emma Gado 22, Mrs. Ladi Monday, 30 and her 5 years old daughter, Mary Monday 5 were reportedly attacked less than 24hrs after one Mr. Monday Yirigwe Kwa went missing.

Mr. Kwa had gone to check his farm in Jiri village, from Miango town where he and other villagers earlier displaced from Jiri village were taking refuge.

The Irigwe youth group believes the sympathy the new STF Commander seems to have for the Fulani in the state might be responsible for the renewed attacks.

The full statement by Mr. Lawrence Zongo reads:

THE RESURGENCE OF FULANI HERDSMEN ATTACKS IN IRIGWE LAND AND THE ONE-SIDED JUDGMENT OF THE NEW STF COMMANDER

It is with great pain that we consider writing this statement. For one reason, the loss of lives and properties of Irigwe people due to incessant attacks by killer herdsmen in different parts of the Irigwe Chiefdom has gotten to our nerves and it appears this time we won't take it any longer. On another hand, while we wish to remain law abiding, not taking the laws into our hands as our aggressors often do and still get away with it, the authorities in whom our confidence is supposed to rest and our welfare and security guaranteed have continually shown us that being a political or ethnic minority means losing one's right to exist, enjoy peace or seek justice.

First, the transfer of the immediate past Commander of the STF,  was unacceptable to us. This is because the transfer came just when we were beginning to see meaningful actions in the fight against terrorism and all of forms criminality in the state. The former commander and his officer's and men after a period of painstaking understudy of the security situation in the state devised measures to curb all forms of attacks and trespass, dealing with everyone fairly and justly and was beginning to restore confidence of the people on operation safe Haven. 

The coming of the new STF Commander, Maj. Gen. Chukwudi Agandu, we thought would have been followed by series of consultative meetings as done by his predecessor to acquaint himself with the conflict context and parties, as well as the issues involved for a more informed decision that will favour peace, justice and progress that the Nigerian army stands for. But alas, it is beginning to show that his coming was with a mandate different from what we had expected even though suspected.

Just last Friday (3/8/2018), three people in Zanwa village, Miango district of Bassa LGA, Plateau state was wiped out by Fulani armed men around 8pm. The deceased - Mr. Emma Gado 22, Mrs. Ladi Monday, 30 and her 5 years old daughter, Mary Monday 5 were killed less than 24hrs after one Mr. Monday Yirigwe Kwa from Jiri village went missing after he left Miango town where he and all other earlier displaced villagers from Jiri are taking refuge to check his farm. 

The latest attack where three were killed was reported to have been carried out by well armed Fulani herdsmen who came from around the Rukuba military Barrack, located few kilometers away from the Zanwra village where the attack took place.

More worrisome and suspicious is the fact that the attack occurred few hours after the new STF commander Major General A Augustine  visited our community, exonerating the Fulani of crimes against us and accusing us of Killing their cows. While we wouldn't want to defend any criminal act involving any member of our community, we wish to place on record that we have never resisted any attempt to arrest any erring member of our community and therefore view these charges as baseless and acting of a script by the new Commander of STF.

After all, an agreement had already been entered into prohibiting all forms of trespass into land for grazing or herd for rustling etc. We view the STF Commander as clearly acting out the script of those who are bent on killing our people, its unfair for the new STF commander to be this insensitive to the plight of our people, instead of consoling us for all the killings and calmly appeal to all parties to leave in peace, he rather accused us of stealing Cattle an allegation we know nothing about.  He even went further to say that he will organize a football match for us and the Fulani's,  we want to ask that what level of peace has he achieve before taking of a football match?

While we remain law abiding and confident that the Nigerian army has the capacity to root out any form of threat to human life, we wish to categorically state that as long as sacred cows and puppet security authorities exist in this country, the wave of chaos has not yet started. This is not in anyway to stir any group against another, or against the government, but to warn that a people continually intimidated, crushed and humiliated by the very system they respect could someday realize that after all, it has nothing left to gain or lose whether or not it fights back.

We therefore sound this a warning, calling for a critical review of the security situation all over the country, especially as it affects this so-called farmers and herders conflicts. The victims of these attacks in Zamfara, Sokoto, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Ekiti, Abia and other places are not entirely farmers. If they were, the Churches, clinics, schools and children affected would have been spared because they have no direct connection with the practice. Likewise, majority of those who orchestrated the attacks are not cattle owners. This therefore means that something is missing in the real definitions and resolution efforts of the government. This we view as deliberate and calculated, and a call to self-defense as permitted by the constitution if government's refuse to do the needful.

Signed:

Lawrence Zongo
Miango Youth spokesperson