…Intel between Presidency and Taraba Government expose threat
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Indications emerged last night that the claim by the former defence minister that the military is aiding and abetting unceasing attacks on farmers in Taraba State, was based on incontrovertible evidence, which has now before the Presidency.
Inn series of communication between the Taraba State Government and the Presidency on one hand and the military authorities on the other, the state government had severally drawn the attention of the Presidency to the activities of military commanders in the state who turned blind eye to series of attacks unleashed by armed men against local farmers and natives of the state.
In some of the letters, now with Vanguard, the state government directly accused the military in Taraba for outright collusion against the people which has made it easy for the Fulani militia to kill, maim and destroy valuable properties.
I one of them, the state governor, Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku, accused the military of what he called “neglect and disrespect for the position of the Office of the Governor of Taraba State” and pleaded with the Presidency to call them to order and stop the carnage in the state but he was ignored.
In a document now before the presidency, the state cited several instance to buttress his claim: “In February, the Ministry of Interior influenced the visit of military investigators to investigate an allegation against His Royal Majesty, Dr, Shekarau Angyu Masa-Ibi, the Aku Uka of Wukari and Chairman of the Taraba State Council of Chiefs. The military delegation had no courtesy to even inform the state governor who is the chief security officer of the state on the visit and purpose of the visit.
The Taraba State Government protested this obvious act of disrespect for the office of the Executive Governor of the state in a letter to the Chief of Army Staff dated 23 February, 2016
“Governor Ishaku had reason to write the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on January 26, 2016 to complain about the threat to peace and security in Taraba State. In that letter signed by Governor Ishaku himself, he lamented the “devastating effects of internal conflicts involving the Fulani and Tiv which led to the sacking of 200 settlements in Gassol, Bali, Ibi, Donga and Gashaka Local Government Areas by herdsmen believed to have moved into the state from neighbouring countries
“In the letter also, the Governor informed the Presidency about the concerns raised by some traditional rulers in the state concerning the influx of Fulani militia people and about the subsequent attacks on their communities. Letters of complaints from the traditional rulers whose communities suffered from these attacks were also attached and forwarded to the Presidency.
“ In the same letter, the Governor urged the Presidency not to view these attacks and killings as inter-ethnic clashes anymore because the attackers take over “conquered” communities and farm lands in large numbers. The government called on the Federal Government to take a more serious view of the crises and act decisively on it but nothing happened.
Copies of this letter were sent to the National Security Adviser to the President, Chief of Staff to the President and IG of Police
“On July 5, 2017, Governor Ishaku, in a letter to the Acting President, drew his attention to the precarious security situation as contained in a letter written by contractors handling the Kashimbilla Dam project and called for high level intervention. He called on the army, the Navy and Air Force to establish permanent security bases in the area. This was again ignored.
The Taraba State Government had complained against the conduct of the Commanding Officer of 93 Battallion, Ada Barracks in Takum on several occasions but no action was taken against him by the military high command. For example, the Fulani militia attacked communities in Takum and Ussa on May 6, 2018.
“The crisis led to the abandonment of 224 cows belonging to the Fulani herdsmen. The Taraba State Government took possession of these cows and handed them over to the Commanding Officer for safe keeping until the owners return to collect. This was meant to be a ploy to get the perpetrators of the crisis arrested. Sadly, the Commanding Officer released the cows without arresting anybody.
“There was another case when the commanding officer marched soldiers to attack and brutalise communities in Kashimbilla. Properties of the people were damaged while many were injured.The letter said the Commanding Officer had been partial and discriminatory in the discharge of his duties and requested that he should be transferred. The advice was ignored. This letter dated August 11, 2017 and signed by the Governor himself showed that the Governor has always raised the alarm on the security situations in the state but was always ignored.
“On January 30, this year, The Governor of Taraba State wrote another letter to the Vice President to again complain about the attitude of the Commanding Officer of 93 Battallion, Takum, Lt Col Ibrahim Babatunde Gambari whose soldiers always looked the other way when the herdsmen militia men come to kill.
“In the letter, the Governor said that the security situation in the country and in Taraba State demanded that every security officer cooperate and take directives from the chief security officer of the state which is the governor but lamented that this has not been the case with the commanding officer.
The letter listed instances of security challenges in which the military failed to live up expectations.
“The kidnapping of Hon Hosea Ibi, member Taraba State House of Assembly on 30th December at a residence right opposite the army barracks in Talkum. He was subsequently killed after 15 days in the custody of his abductors.
“The attack on the vehicle of the Chairman of Takum LG January 28, 2018 along Takum-Wukari Road which resulted in the death of a student of the College of Health Technology
“On the day, 28/1/18, a man named Chidiebere Okonwa was again kidnapped opposite the Army Barracks, Takum after several gunshots were fired. The wife of the victim escaped and reported to the military in the Quarter Guard but the soldiers refused to act
“The letter also alerted the military authorities of a planned massive movement of Fulani and their cows into Takum LG. The motive was to provoke the people and precipitate crisis. The military in-charge of security area did nothing.
“The widely publicised report on social media and which was investigated and confirmed to the effect that a chopper dropped arms in a village near Wukari was simply downplayed by the security agencies. Three persons were later arrested and one of them had 50 pieces of AK-47 guns in his possession. The man confessed that all their arms and ammunition had arrived Taraba State that they will launch an attack in 10 days.
“Despite all these efforts by the Taraba State Government to get the military to act, they never did. Since then, the arms and ammunition brought into the state have been deployed against the people in various communities in the state by the herdsmen.
“The present operation “Ayem Akpatuma” in the state has also been discriminatory. While every instrument including cutlasses and kitchen knives have been taken away from the people, the herdsmen have been left with AK-47 guns.
“Through these various acts of deliberate mischief on the part of the military authorities, thousands of people have been killed and a lot more may be killed unless the military turns a new leaf,” the document concluded.