Taraba:Fulani leaders decry women killings, arbitrary arrests
From Tom Garba, in Yola
Fulani leaders in Taraba State have on Sunday demanded justice and fairness from Police and Takum Local Government council, alleging that several nomadic herdsmen were either arbitrarily arrested or killed in the last two weeks.
Speaking at a press conference, the Fulani leaders decried the alleged arbitrary arrest and persecution of their members on the order of Takum Local Government Council, describing the development as inimical to peace.
Alhaji Mafindi Danburam, the North East Zonal Chairman of the Miyetti bAllah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) called on the Federal government to intervene as according to him some MACBAN members were, on a market day, arbitrarily apprehended.
His words: “Last Wednesday, March 14, our members went to Bantaje Cattle Market to sell their cattle. On their way back home, 52 of them were arbitrarily arrested by the police, under the instruction of Takum Council Chairman, Mr. Shiban Tikare. They were later transferred to the state command in Jalingo.
“Upon reaching the state command, our demand for the reasons of the arrest; charges against the suspects and the statement of the complainant were not made available to us”, Danburam said.
The chairman therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to save Fulani people from “enemies of peace” in Taraba.
“We are really in the hands of elements of destruction who believe that a Fulani man has no right to live and enjoy his right as a citizen in Taraba State.
“Takum is now a no-go area for us. Our people are being killed , their animals maimed but nobody is arrested for these crimes”, he said.
Also corroborating, Muhammadu Gongola the state chairman of Tabital Puulaku said “we demand justice and fairness.
‘’It’s unfortunate that this is coming days after the visit of Mr. President to the state, we are being attacked, hacked and arbitrarily arrested like fowl’’, he exclaimed.
However,when contacted on telephone the Takum Council Chairman, Mr. Shiban Tikare, denied the allegation, saying ‘’We are only trying to bring chaff out of the grains. There was mass movement of Fulani herdsmen , so we are trying to pre-empt the possibility of any attack, and we handed them to police for interrogation.’’
But the state Police Commissioner, Mr. David Akinremi, had confirmed the arrest of 54 persons ,following intelligence report the police received that “there was a mass movement of people suspected to be the perpetrators of some violent attacks at Bawe, Panshen, Muji 1 and Muji 2 villages in Takum.”
He said his personnel had intercepted four vehicles loaded with the men, when some natives alleged that the suspects had positioned themselves to launch an attack in the area.
Akinremi said he ordered his officers to bring the suspects to the state command in Jalingo for interrogation, to determine their innocence or otherwise.
The commissioner said even though nothing incriminating was found on a set of 43 of the suspects, the police had already conveyed 41 of them to Kashimbilla to ascertain their identities, so that the natives could not blame the police for not performing their duty.
He however explained that two women arrested together with the men were released after investigation proved they were innocent, adding that the remaining 41 men must also prove their innocence.
“ These 41 claimed they have cows at Kashimbilla. So we need to verify if there is any evidence that they took cows to Bantaje for sale.
“We may probably find out from the middlemen if they had performed any transaction with them,” Akinremi said.
The commissioner said a set of five of the suspects confessed to committing cattle rustling while another set of six were believed to be among the perpetrators of the violent attacks in the area.