By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Thousands of people displaced in the recent attacks and sacking of several hamlets in Jebbu Miango, Irigwe Chiefdom of Bassa local government area of Plateau State have appealed for help to enable them feed, clothe and shelter especially as the rains are falling.
Women and girls need sanitary wares while medical interventions are also needed to prevent outbreak of diseases.
The sanitary conditions of the people camped in available spaces in the Miango and Kwall districts of the Chiefdom require immediate intervention.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the communities on Friday, the entire Jebbu Miango and other adjourning communities were ghosts of themselves as there were no human nor domestic animals around except the few security agents.
Few youths were also seen rummaging through their burnt property, picking some valuables like cooking pots, mattresses and other things they could salvage.
At the ECWA, Bishara 1, Miango and the palace of the Brra Nggwe Rigwe (Paramount Ruler of Irigwe), Ronku Aka where some of the displaced persons were seen, when the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation visited to give them some relief materials, they unanimously appealed for urgent help from “all people of goodwill,” because “government has deserted us.”
A victim, Martha Avia said, “They burnt our houses and farms, we are pleading for help, we don’t have food, no shelter, we are hungry and the rain is falling on us, we don’t have anything to cover ourselves, we are pleading that you should help us. We need security, we need to be safe to be able to go home and pick the pieces of our lives.”
Monday Garba, Ward Head, Mararaba Tipper, Jebbu Miango, stated, “Last two weeks Tuesday, these Fulani people came to us and attacked our village areas, our houses, killed some of our people without any reason. There was security but they did not take any action. As we called them to come and assist, they told us that they were not permitted to shoot, we were left on our own, now see how we are suffering.
“We want the government to assist us, compel the security to act because all our farms are destroyed by Fulani, even in the night or afternoon, you see cattle grazing on our crops, we need this to stop.”
Another victim, Monday Hodus added, “On that fateful Saturday, the Fulani attacked some members of our community during the funeral of our boys who were killed by them. They attacked and burnt down the whole Jebbu-Miango community killing many of its inhabitants in addition to destroying our farmlands.
“My house and all my vehicles are completely burnt to ashes. Where do I start from again? The Fulani have formed the habit of grazing on our farms and they expect no one to complain otherwise, it would cost you your life. If you dare report a Fulani to the authority after being caught grazing on your land and he is asked to pay you monetary compensation, he would pay the compensation but would tell you to your face that you will not live to enjoy the money (even if it is N5,000).
“And surely, the Fulani will definitely attack and kill the person. If a Fulani cow is missing, Government agents would continue to harass and threaten our local Chiefs as if they are responsible for the missing cow. But when they attack us, destroy our homes and farmlands, nothing is done about it. This is the predicament we have found ourselves in.”
He expressed dismay over Government neglect of the community having suffered a series of attacks stressing that no government official has deemed it fit to visit the community to see things for themselves.
Gastro Barry, Chairman Relief and Intervention Committee who narrated the series of attacks in the Chiefdom since 2001 stated, “But this year, 2021, it took an entirely different dimension.
“As I am talking to you now, about 39 communities have been displaced, over 700 have been killed with 55 people injured and hospitalized. The number of farmed crops destroyed are close to 3,000. Over the last few days, the Fulani herdsmen have been grazing their cattle freely on crops that were cultivated.
“The number of residential rooms, exclusive of food barns, kitchens and stores destroyed are over 3,000. A lot of displaced persons are taking refuge in Miango and in the Kwall district of the chiefdom. A few have moved to Jos and Bukuru. Because this thing happened so suddenly, they could not move out foodstuffs, clothing so families are struggling to feed.
“Some people sustained gunshot injuries and are in hospitals, bills need to be settled, they need medical attention. Issue of accommodation is also a challenge. We have not received any support from the government. We pleaded with the clinics to bear with us.”
However, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam who led other officials of the Foundation to visit the people lamented the situation, saying, “What happened in Irigwe land moved our hearts. Although we do peace work in this local government area, sometimes it is difficult to bring people to talk and then when it is an hour of need and you cannot provide the kind of help that people want.
“We reflected through that and said we should bring some support. There are many people that are displaced from their homes, they have no place to sleep, no food to eat, we thought we should find support to make them have food to eat while we try to work with all the necessary security agencies to bring the situation under normalcy.
We brought rice, beans, maize, people gave through our Foundation, all the money didn’t come from our coffers. We call on other well-meaning Nigerians, we don’t need to wait for people outside to come and help us. We need to also give.
“When we give support, we give to all sides, I want to call on even Muslims to give so that we can support all of these people who have been rendered homeless. Our good act of mercy should not be defined by religion, I give this challenge to all Christians and Muslims to help.
“As of Thursday evening, we have 29,804 Irigwes that have been rendered homeless. That is almost 30,000, there are about 55 people injured and 70 people that have been killed.”
Para-Mallam who noted “Government could have done more to stop this violence” however appealed to the people to forgive those who have hurt them and give no thought for revenge, stressing, “peace building does not support injustice but I plead with you not to take laws into your hands, don’t go for revenge. God is not a fool.”
The Brra Nggwe Rigwe, Rev. Ronku Aka rtd lamented his people are being “hunted everywhere like rats” but assured there will be no reprisal because, “we have no power to fight anyone but we believe God will avenge us and we will rise again as a people.”
Meanwhile, Bassa local government Chairman, Chindo Girga who also visited the people said, “as a local government, this affects us, we are doing our best to help the displaced persons with food items. We did all we could to stop this attack but we could not, this happened at the time we did not expect.”