Hundreds of people have continued to flee Taraba villages, following attacks on some communities in the Gassol, Ibi and Wukari local government areas by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
This is coming on the heels of a reported planned attack on the state by Fulani herdsmen as alleged by Governor Darius Ishaku on Wednesday.
A Punch correspondent gathered that five persons were killed at Amande Jembe village in Bantaje District of the Wukari LGA and four others were killed in Ngutswen village, Gassol LGA, barely nine hours after Ishaku raised the alarm over the planned attacks.
When SUNDAY PUNCH visited the deserted communities in the Gassol and Wukari LGAs, most of the villages were deserted as villagers fled their communities to Sabon Gida, Dan-Anacha and Mutum Biyu in Gassol, and Gidin Doruwa and Wukari in the Wukari LGA.
Mr. Simon Tyavwua, a resident who buried four of his relatives in Ngutswen village, told SUNDAY PUNCH that over 2,000 people, mostly Tiv, who were marked for attack, had moved to neighbouring Sabon Gida to take refuge.
“Over 70 major villages housing over 2,000 people from Sabon Gida to Wurojam and Yerima to Gassol have been deserted. Most of these people are now living in internally displaced people’s camps in their land.
“These attacks get worse by the day, despite the alarm (raised) by the governor. There is not a single security personnel here,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Darius Ishaku on Public Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Bello, told our correspondent that it was not clear if the presence of military in the state was a direct response to the governor’s security alert.
“It is good that we are getting a better response from the military. This is a departure from the criminal silence and snobbishness of the past,” Bello said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. David Missal, told SUNDAY PUNCH in a telephone interview that though there was no deployment of special forces to the state after the governor’s alarm, the police officers in the state were already on the alert.
“We are on the ground and have taken proactive measures to forestall any attack. For now, the situation in the state is calm,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Mutual Union of Tiv in the United Kingdom has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Justin Welby, to intervene in the killings by suspected herdsmen.
In the letter titled ‘Genocide by the Fulani herders against the minority Tiv in Nigeria’ and signed by its Vice President, Dr. Kohol Iornem, a copy of which was sent to our correspondent, the group appealed to the Archbishop to call Buhari to end the killings.
Iornem explained that the plight of his “defenceless Tiv community” in the hands of the Fulani herdsmen and the failure of the President Buhari’s government to address the brutal killings in Benue and other states in Nigeria was causing tension in the country.
“Your Grace, the Nigerian body of our Lord Jesus Christ bears the painful, bleeding wounds of this ongoing and unchecked viciousness.
“We, therefore, turn to our Lord’s Church in the United Kingdom to investigate our claims and, on behalf of the defenceless victims, ask the government of Nigeria to stop the killings and bring justice to bear,” the letter read in part.
The UK-based Tiv group, in the letter circulated by its Publicity Secretary, Ms. Salome Biam, requested the Archbishop to intervene and compel the Federal Government of Nigeria to stop the killing of innocent people in the country, especially in Benue and Taraba states.
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