…Over 20 Still missing, Including 3 children
…. Military cordon attack site to forestall further encroachment
… As Taraba Govt., Army, Immigration Visit Manga
By Femi Bolaji
The fatalities from last weeks attack on Manga Village, a border community in Taraba South and other communities on the Cameroonian side has risen to 12.
Over 20 persons are still said to be missing including three children whose whereabouts are still unknown.
The riverside village of Manga, which Vanguard visited weekend, was still in a somber mood as relatives of the deceased were still mourning their loved ones.
Prior to last Tuesday’s attack on Manga village, the locals who spoke to Vanguard claimed there has been numerous attacks on some villages in Cameroon whom they share similar heritage.
This resulted to the influx of their kinsmen into Manga and other Nigerian Communities in that axis, whom they share the same Shibong language and cultural heritage in order to escape the onslaught of the separatists.
They claimed that Manga was targeted specifically by the separatists for being a generous host of their kits and kin who fell on the Cameroon side after the 1961 plebiscite.
The locals who spoke to Vanguard during the visit confirmed that the attackers were indeed Ambazonia soldiers.
They said the attackers came in a boat but followed the mountain parts after attacking two villages in Cameroon before crossing over to Manga village on Nigeria’s soil.
A palace worker, Abubakar Manga, who witnessed the incident, said, the attackers came in around 7am.
According to him, “they came in through a narrow bush part after navigating the mountain into our village.
“We really do not know their numbers but they shot at everything at sight.
“The path they followed into the village was close to the palace of our village head and that was why they were able to kill him easily.
“A lot of our people ran into the river to escape while others followed the bush and mountain to flee.
“Thank God for the Immigration Officers who were around at the time as first responders, the number of those killed would have been more.
“Here in Manga, six people were killed including our village head, but the two villages that they attacked before coming in on the Cameroon side, they killed three people each over there.
“The immigration officers who have a post here engaged the attackers while another officer of theirs used their boat to evacuate children and women into other villages.
“It was the immigration that called for backup and the military had to come in because over here there is no mobile phone operator network.”
Another resident, who spoke said “before Tuesdays’ attack, the Ambazonia fighters have on Sunday attacked the same village they have been attacking in Cameroon.
“This led so many people running into Manga and other Shibong villages. On Monday nothing happened but that very Tuesday, we just saw men with guns coming in.
“Before now, we have not had any problem with either Cameroon Gendarmes or the Separatists. We are peace loving people.
“We thought harbouring our brothers who were on harms way over there is being our brothers keepers not knowing that we would pay with our dear lives.
“It is very painful and our hitherto peaceful atmosphere is now compromised.”
‘My People are Vulnerable’ – Monarch
Also speaking, the third class Chief of Shibong, HRH Alexander Yamusa Garkwe, said the nature of the latest killings in Shibong has made his subjects vulnerable.
More worrisome, according to him was the killing of the Village head of Manga village and some of his subjects by foreign separatists.
He however called for permanent station of Marine police, Army and more deployment of Immigration officers to effectively combat the growing threat.
On his part the Taraba state Commissioner for Information, Danjuma Adamu, who led the team for on the spot assessment said, the state government would liaise with the Federal government to ensure the killings of innocent Nigerians by foreigners does not repeat itself.
He also extended the state government’s condolences to the community and thanked them for their resilience.
According to him, “we have seen things ourself now and we have heard the request made by the communities here.
“We will report back to the state governor for quick intervention and I am certain something positive would follow.
“Also, the military are now stationed here and we are sure that lives and properties are safe.”
On his part, the Chairman of Takum LGA, Shiban Tikari, also sent a strong warning to the Ambazonia fighters to desist from attacking villages under his purview.
He was confident that Nigeria troops are capable of preventing further attacks on vulnerable communities along that axis, and called on the federal government to restore the hitherto moribund military station in Manga village.
As at the time Vanguard visited the village, the Army have raised a camp at the Primary school in Manga.
Their officers and Immigration personnel are also placed strategically in different entry and exit point of the village.
Checks round Manga village to ascertain the level of destruction was led by Taraba State Commissioner for Information, Danjuma Adamu, and was accompanied by
Commander, 6 Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Brig. Gen. H.I. Mabeokwu, Taraba State Comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Seevice, CIS Nuhu Kutana Tanko, Chairman Takum LGA, Shiban Tikari, Special Adviser on Security to governor Ishaku, Nwunokhen Agyo among others.