By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA—The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said, yesterday, that the recent massacre of three policemen and a civilian as well as the release of a handcuffed notorious multi-millionaire kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, by soldiers along Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State, has justified the position of former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), that herdsmen were, indeed, working in collusion with the military to exterminate the people from their region.
The group, which spoke through a statement in Abuja, lamented that the former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, has come under scathing criticisms from some recruited groups to smear Danjuma’s name, shortly after he made the revelation.
President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Porgu, said it was in the same vein that some amorphous groups and individuals were being sponsored to deliberately blackmail and drag Danjuma and Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State into the current Tiv/Jukun crisis.
The statement read: “While we are at a loss as to why these recruited groups have continued to smear the name of General Danjuma, we are also not unaware of the fact that ever since the former Defence Minister called on Nigerians to resist the invasion of the Middle Belt and Southern communities from terrorist herdsmen that are in collusion with the military.
“It became obvious that General Danjuma had stirred the hornet’s nest when he told the world that the military was colluding with rampaging herdsmen to unleash terror on Nigerian communities.
“The recent killing of police operatives on a covert assignment to Taraba State, who arrested and handcuffed a notorious multi-millionaire kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, has justified Danjuma’s allegations that the military is, indeed, colluding with terrorist elements to invade communities.
Exonerate Danjuma, Ishaku from Tiv/Jukun war
“It is most regrettable that at a time when these warring communities and others from the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria are being faced with existential threat due to incessant invasions by terrorist herdsmen, they have unconsciously allowed fifth columnists to infiltrate them with a ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics.”
This tactics, according to the group, is aimed solely at distracting attention from the real enemies of the Nigerian state, the rampaging herdsmen who have continued to invade communities,raping, maiming, killing and destroying with impunity.
The group said: “More worrisome is the fact that conflict entrepreneurs and detractors of the Middle Belt people have found a leeway to make political capital out of the crisis by making desperate attempts to blackmail and drag the names of respected personalities and leaders of the Middle Belt into the conflict.
“Strangely, we have observed with total dismay the desperation with which some amorphous groups and individuals, including the Abuja protest that took place on Tuesday, are being sponsored to deliberately blackmail and drag General Danjuma and Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba State into the current Tiv/Jukun crisis.
“While such procured groups and individuals are tasked by their paymasters to level unsubstantiated accusations against the aforementioned elders and leaders, wherein they called on the security agencies to probe their involvement in what they called ‘formation and arming of Jukun militia’, making it appear as if the call was borne out of a patriotic and genuine concern.
“But they, however, unconsciously forgot to conceal their ulterior motives and quickly betrayed their evil plans by alleging that the crisis is aimed at portraying the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as incapable of tackling the current security challenges bedeviling the country.
“Another accusation against Gen Danjuma and Governor Ishaku is that in the face of the present conflict, the duo have continued to maintain a conspiracy of silence. Again, how laughable this is?
“Our findings reveal that both Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and Governor Ishaku, with their deputies, have at different times convened peace-building meetings to reconcile the two warring communities, with bright prospects on the horizon for restoration of normalcy.
“Our forum has also made efforts to reach out to Gen Danjuma who also revealed the relentless efforts he has privately deployed without any form of publicity to ensure amicable resolution of the conflict between the two ethnic groups.
“By his antecedents, it beats our imagination how mischief makers will deliberately want to drag the name of the respected elder into the mud, in spite of his patriotism and unimpeachable track records of having fought for the unity of the country like no other.
“Whatever agenda that is playing out, and no matter who is behind this campaign of calumny, their despicable motives shall be exposed at the end of the day and their plans are bound to fail.”