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Our Ordeals At The Hands Of Fulani Herdsmen, By Tiv Victims
The fear of Fulani herdsmen is now the beginning of wisdom for the Tiv people of Benue State. Most of them, particularly, the refugees at St. Mary Primary School at North Bank, a suburb of Makurdi, Benue State, have one prayer and that is that the government may prevail on the Fulani herdsmen to stop invading their villages!
Thousands of Tivs from the troubled areas, who were displaced from their ancestral homes, now live in camps at Daudu, Makurdi and Yelwetta.
The persistent invasion of the Fulani herdsmen with its attendant problems in the last four years, according to Zaki Oliver Tarkumbo, has informed their resolution and prayer. Barely four months ago, the same Fulani herdsmen invaded some villages in Gwer West Local Government Area of the state, killing and maiming many people, including children, and property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
According to Mr. David Iorhemba, a member of the state House of Assembly representing Guma state constituency, ‘it will be recalled that sometime in the month of March and April 2011, there were persistent Fulani/Tiv farmers’ crises which resulted in losses of lives and property.”
The lawmaker added that a similar invasion by the Fulani herdsmen at Mbayer/ Yandev in Guma Local Government recently claimed 34 people and property destroyed. Penultimate Saturday, the Fulani herdsmen carried out another invasion on the Tiv, this time around at Anser village in Nasarawa State which spread to some communities in Benue State.
At the last count, two soldiers, including a patrol team leader, Lt Chinedu Anyanwu, two traditional rulers, an Inspector in the Nigeria Police and 20 others were killed in the three-day attack.
John Achi, a 39-year-old farmer, who spoke with Saturday Tribune at the refugee camp at St Mary Secondary School, Makurdi, said that the renewed hostility started in the early hours of penultimate Saturday. According to him, “this recent attack started very early, we just saw the Fulanis, some on horse back and others were trekking; they were armed with guns, knives, cutlasses and other weapons.
They claimed they were looking for their lost cows and moved straight to the chief’s house where they shot and killed him and one of his children.
The invading Fulani herdsmen were said to have forced themselves into another house, where they met a nursing mother who was attending to her new baby. The herdsmen were said to have inquired from the woman whether her new baby was a boy or girl, but while she could not comprehend their language, one of them snatched the baby from her and removed the wrapped cloth on the baby. On discovering that the new baby was a boy, they killed him and the mother.
Many of the herdsmen were said to have moved to farms, killed those found there and destroyed their crops as well as set their buildings ablaze. The herdsmen were said to have gone further ransacking all the villages on their way down to the villages in Benue.
Zaki Oliver, who claimed to be a tax collector for Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, said that the crisis spread to Tarkembo, a village in Benue State that same Saturday, noting that two people were killed instantly which made many of them to flee their villages to take refuge in Makurdi, the state capital.
Mama Mary Achov, in her statement, said that she was at the farm at Uder village in Benue State when one of her children ran to her to inform her of the invasion.
“Immediately I was informed, I left everything and ran back to pick up my children and grandchildren living with me. Together, we trekked many kilometers in the bush before we could get somebody who brought us to Makurdi,” she said.
On how they feed, Zaki Oliver, who claimed to have three wives and eight children, said that he had sent his wives and children to a camp at Naka, headquarters of Gwer West Local Government where violence broke out in April. He is now at the mercy of his brother who resides in Makurdi.
Another victim, Achi, who has one wife and three children, all of them now live at the camp surviving on arms from passersby, the same fate that has befallen other people at the camp. As of the time Saturday Tribune got to the camp at St Mary School, many of the displaced people were said to have found solace with their relatives in Makurdi, while those who have no relatives roam the street or hang out at the premises of the school during school hours, only to return to the classrooms after school hour to pass the night.
As the refugee camps in Daudu, Makurdi and Yelwetta continue to swell by the day, the state government has set up a Commission of Enquiry to look into the persistent crises between the Fulani and Tiv farmers with the aim of proffering a lasting solution to it.
Benue State deputy governor, Chief Steven Lawani, who inaugurated the five-man committee, which is to work with the Nasarawa State’s committee, is charged with the responsibilities of; identifying the remote and immediate causes of the crisis and, at the same time, ascertain those behind the violence and proffer ways to put an end to the crisis.Share