…ATTACK AFTER PEACE MEETING
BY UMAR YUSUF, YOLA
It was one of the deadliest attacks since the lingering farmers/herders feud started in Adamawa State and some parts of the North. It remains a deadly attack because of the personalities of the victims and the number of communities razed.
Kwamba people of about five towns and villages would not forget last Tuesday in a hurry after suspected herdsmen struck.
Kwamba is located in Borrong District of Demsa local government area of Adamawa with 95% of the inhabitants as peasant farmers and fishermen owing to its proximity to the River Benue.
As the predominantly Christian communities were finishing Residents of Sabon their early morning devotion, the herders struck from all angles.
Pegi, Galanga, Gidan Mission, Swera, Somdi and Lamoro villages took to their heels as the invaders arrived.
They took the villagers, according to them, by surprise, shooting sporadically and setting houses ablaze and, within hours, no fewer than 37 persons were killed. Notable among the victims was a former Commissioner for Youths and Sports under the administration of former Governor Murtala Nyako, Mr. Sam Zadok.
Zadok was, until his death, the Publicity Secretary of Adamawa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A youth leader in the area, Mr. Paul Musa, said Zadok was killed alongside six others in the same car in Bare village, some 15 kilometers to the scene of the fight.
The slain commissioner was very vocal during recent peace process between herdsmen and farmers put together by the Committee on Herders/Farmers Conflict headed by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, when the warring parties signed peace accord and to lay down their arms.
The accord was not obeyed as barely a week after it was agreed, suspected herdsmen invaded Gwamba in Borrong District of Demsa LGA.
There were different versions of the circumstances leading to the death of Zadok and six others in his vehicle. One report had it that the former Commissioner, along with his entourage, was killed in an ambush by herdsmen on their way to the troubled communities.
The version asserted that the victims went there to defend their territory when they met their deaths.
Another account showed that they were in the communities to broker peace and had even persuaded the people to maintain the peace and were ambushed while returning to their base.
The military has, meanwhile, arrested 17 suspects in connecting with the attack.
Parading the suspects in Yola, the Brigade Commander of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Yola, Brigadier General Muhammad Bello, disclosed that the suspects were arrested by the troops of 101 Special Force Battalion on Exercise Ayem Akpatuma deployed to Numan to quell the sectarian crisis.
The Brigade Commander disclosed that despite concrete efforts to rescue the villages from destruction, the herdsmen set the villages ablaze before the arrival of the troops.
The determined troops, according to him, trailed the fleeing herders and arrested six of them, even as they “showed stiff resistance in an attempt to arrest them as they engaged the troops in cross fire leading to the death of 10 of the attackers”.
“Assorted AK47 rifles, locally made guns, rounds of ammunition, bows and arrows as well as cutlasses were recovered from them”, Bello said.
The attack has been greeted by nationwide condemnation.
The Lutheran Church of Christ of Nigeria, LCCN, described it as unfortunate as it happened barely five days after a peace accord was signed between the warring parties.
In a statement, Archbishop Musa Panti Fillibus told government to put-up mechanism to halt the killings in Adamawa and other parts of the North.
Fillibus, who is also the leader of the Lutheran Church Worldwide, observed that no religion preaches violence not to talk of taking human life, saying that perpetrators should face the wrath of God.