- Gory Tales Of How women, Children and The Aged Were Hacked Down In Bali, Gashaka
- Gov Ishaku talks Tough, Charges Citizens On Peace
By Inuwa BWALA, who was in Jalingo
Taraba State may have passed through different phases of crises in the past, but the recent attack on Bali and Gashaka Local Government Areas of the state by Fulani marauders has been described as one attack too many. It was the unleashing of unprovoked anger on two sleeping communities, in which, women, children and the aged were at the receiving end.
The story may have been told from various angles, but no matter what was said of the particular incidents there seem more stories to be told, as our correspondent gathered that the casualty figure was deliberately downplayed and the degree of destruction also under reported in the media.
nationalTRAIL which has been following developments in Taraba State reveals that, what happened was a seeming vindication of Governor Darius Ishaku’s earlier fears over the mass influx of strangers into Taraba state, for which he sanctioned some traditional rulers, against fears that permeated Taraba State in the wake of the national security challenges.
The Governor, apparently seeing the warning signals, to the effect that nowhere was safe, had at a security meeting in Jalingo the State capital, shortly before the attacks on Bali and Gashaka took steps to stop the mass influx of non indigenes into some parts of Taraba. Ostensibly in active connivance with some traditional rulers, he was challenged on grounds of ethno religious sentiments.
At another forum, a senator from the state had alerted on the infiltration of Taraba state by people suspected to harbour hatred for the indigenous tribes, but again his fears were dismissed; on the grounds that it was a diatribe on some groups, only for the same strangers to manifest their true motives.
Even those who opposed both the Governor and the senator are now living in fears, with many lamenting that, the affected communities may never recover from the devastation caused, just as rebuilding the affected communities may take toll on the already fragile resources of the state. This is in addition to the dislocation of the long existing socio economic bonds, between herdsmen and the host communities in Taraba.
The destroyed structures, as well as the human casualties remain inestimable, a development that could have made the Governor, Darius Ishaku failing to control his emotions when he beheld the scenes of the massacre. But many Tarabans could not fault him now, as he had taken steps to nip the matter in the bud.
Ishaku who had just been confirmed as validly elected Governor of Taraba State, before the twin incidents, was said to have been at the verge of total emotional breakdown, seeing corpses all over the communities, amongst which were women, children and the aged. He could not afford the luxury of celebrating his hard earned victory with ease, and had to make it low keyed.
The Governor had in his remarks at the solemn ceremony following the renewed attacks on some communities in Gashaka and Bali vowed to eliminate any form of insurgency by evil agents within the borders of Taraba State, just as he maintained that his Government will leave no stone unturned in apprehending the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
nationalTRAIL recalls that, a group of unknown gun men, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, unleashed terror on people in some communities in Gashaka and Bali Local Governments leaving over 44 persons dead, 5 injured, 6 missing and over 100 displaced women and children.
The affected communities are Dorei where 8 people were reported massacred and 6 children missing, Angai where over 20 people were reported killed and 5 injured, and Maisuma where 9 people were reported to have been shot dead while in Fali 7 people were reported killed.
Preliminary investigations reveal that the attack started with the attempted rape of a woman by the armed bandits and when the lady resisted the marauders decided to unleash mayhem on entire communities.
The truth about the immediate and remote causes of this last attack may not be known now, but investigations reveal that, the attacking herders were merely using their vocation as an alibi, as there may be a more sinister plot to destabilize Taraba, if accounts of some victims of the attack were anything to go by.
According to them, some of the attackers have foreign accent, and the type of weapons they carry are not the ordinary ones local herdsmen carry, making people to believe that there may be more than meets the eyes to the growing sophistication in the manner of the attacks.
Painting the gory picture of what took place that fateful Monday, one of the survivors of the mayhem, Musa Tanimu, told nationalTRAIL that, the attackers hacked down everything in sight, not sparing the women, children and the aged, whose cries of anguish rented the air, as everybody took flight from the communities, without any specific destination in mind.
“We returned the next day and took some of these pictures that I will give you; we want you to tell the world how we have been made captives in our own land by people we have sheltered over the years. We even give them our farms after harvest to feed their cattle, yet they still kill us”, he lamented in Hausa.
But the Government is looking beyond a mere quarrel over attempts to satisfy the sexual desires of Fulani young men, as according to sources, the Fulani’s have for long nursed the idea of displacing local communities in Taraba state and convert their farms to grazing fields.
The foreigners noticed amongst the antagonists may have been invited by their local kins, and they may have brought in the sophisticated weapons used during the attacks. Witnesses confirmed that the guns were similar to the ones being used by Boko Haram insurgents.
nationalTRAIL gathered that, it was against the background of consistent antagonism against Local Communities, coupled with intelligence reports available to the Government, that the Governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku took proactive steps to mitigate the influx of suspicious persons from some other States into Taraba. But even before then, people had already massively migrated to parts of Taraba State, some of whom had become threats to the host communities.
The Attack on Bali and Gashaka, our correspondent reports was one of series of such attacks in the past on farmers by Fulani herders. Reports indicate that some host communities had been completely sacked, while in others, many families had to flee their homes at certain hours of the day, thereby prompting strict measures by security agents.
In a press statement immediately following the attacks, Governor Ishaku’s spokesman, Sylvanus Giwa expressed the Government’s concern over the most recent killings, which he said was a major setback to current efforts by the Government to resettle IDPs to their homes and for people to resume their normal activities.
Our correspondent reports that, the attack has displaced over 100 women and children who are taking refuge in Mayo-Selbe, Kungana and Garbabi, while others have been relocated to Jalingo and other surrounding places presumed to be safer.
Long after the attacks had come and gone, tears are still flowing for the dead, hopes seem to be deeming for the return of the missing, the scars on those injured still remain visible, as the Government grapples to rebuild the confidence of citizens to return home. At this time of economic hardship, the fears may linger for long