Acting General Officer Commanding, GOC, 3 Division, Nigerian Army, Jos, Brig-General Benjamin Ahanotu, has called on politicians in Taraba State to be neutral, fair and just over the current crisis on the Mambilla Plateau.
Ahanotu made the call when he addressed Chairman of Sardauna Local Government, John Yep, in Gembu, Taraba State, on Saturday.
The violence on the Mambilla Plateau between Fulani and Mambilla tribes caused at least 18 deaths, with many of them believed to be Fulani.
The violence has been condemned by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who has deployed more security officials there.
Fulani residents of the area had accused Mr. Yep of being one of the sponsors of the violence against them in a statement issued at the weekend.
On Saturday, Ahanotu said from the briefs he got from the Brigade Commander of 23 Brigade, Yola, Bello Mohammed, prominent politicians from the area played roles that escalated the situation.
He said the carnage being perpetrated in the area would not have escalated if the politicians had acted justly in dealing with the situation.
He warned that soldiers deployed to the area should not be dragged into politics as they were only there to restore peace.
Earlier, Bello Mohammed said officials of the local government were frustrating efforts of the Army to reach the hinterland where most of the havoc was being perpetrated.
He also said in spite of the on-going crisis, no prominent politician had come over to the area to help calm the situation.
“No member of the national or state assembly has come home, despite the fact that they would have assisted in controlling their people,” Mohammed said.
Ishaku denies sponsoring killings of Fulani
Meanwhile, Governor Darius Ishaku has denied sponsoring the killings of Fulani.
The governor in a statement by his spokesperson, Emmanuel Bello, said claims that he gave the order for the extermination of Fulani ethnic group was untrue, adding that those spreading the falsehood were uninformed.
He also condemned the ongoing fracas between Fulani herdsmen and farmers on Mambilla Plateau in Sardauna Local Government Area.
According to him, bloodshed must be condemned wherever it happens, and not only when one group decides that it has been affected.
The governor challenged those accusing him of instigating genocide against the Fulani to produce a memo, tape or video recording of how the directive was issued, adding that they were out for mischief.
Describing the accusers as people displaying their inability to properly use the term, genocide, the statement read: “The accusers of Governor Ishaku are saying that he, at some point, actually gave orders by way of a broadcast or in some secret location that a certain ethnic group be wiped out of Taraba.
“They must have a tape recording of such instructions or directives. They probably have a memo by the governor where he clearly gave the plans for eliminations, stating timelines.
“They also probably know the armed militia he had planned with to carry out the dastardly act. Now, if they don’t have all of these, as I’m sure there is nothing like that, then, it is amazing how they could sit before journalists and tell a civilised world that a genocide has been planned against them.
“If they want to see genocides, ample examples are there but certainly not in our dear Taraba State. We don’t profile people in this very lovely state or plan the eliminations of same. Life is sacrosanct here.”
The governor wondered why the term genocide had not been used in other places where the country witnessed horrendous cases of crimes against humanity.
“In Taraba State, all human lives are precious to us. That is why Governor Ishaku keeps pushing for peace. That’s even his mantra: he says, ‘give me peace and I would give you development’; he is too refined, too peace loving to engage in any kind of bloodletting or encourage such.
‘’The governor is a very civilised man of the world who has interacted with various segments,’’ the statement noted.