The governor of Taraba State, Arch. Darius Ishaku has demanded that the Nigeria Army first disarm bandits and killer herdsmen in his state rather than innocent citizens who are trying to protect themselves from mayhem unleashed on them.
The governor spoke when addressing army commanders from 3 Division, Nigerian Army, Jos, who paid him a courtesy visit at the State house in Jalingo, the state’s capital. The army says they are in the state for a one-day military training for the conduct of “Operation Ayem-Akpatuma II“ launched simultaneously in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa and Kogi states. They said the operation is designed to flush out criminals, halt violence of all kinds, foster internal cooperation in the troubled areas of the state and bring about lasting peace.
Gov. Ishaku told his guests that the state recorded over 100 cases of kidnapping between January and September with 30 of them occurring in September alone, adding that victims of kidnapping in the state lost between N200 and N250 million to kidnappers.
Regarding the disarming operation, he said “When somebody is in his house, his father was killed today, his mother is kidnapped tomorrow and next his relations are hijacked, how can you tell him that he should not have anything to defend himself? This is not realistic.”
“I cannot imagine myself sitting and somebody comes and drag me out like a goat and slaughter me, or I see my father being slaughtered or my mother being kidnapped or my sister shot and then you tell me I can’t use anything. That is not realistic.”
“If it is peace time and you say people should not carry arms, that’s understandable because there is peace. But this is not peace time, we are in a war situation.
“I agree you should disarm, but disarm the bandits first”.
Taraba state, home to lush rainforest land have come under incessant attacks in the last four years from Fulani herdsmen and other bandits killing, abducting and sacking whole communities.
In 2017, frustrated, renowned elder statesman and former Army Chief, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, had pointedly accused the army under the command of President Muhammadu Buhari – himself a Fulani, of being partisan and aiding the herdsmen in their “ethnic-cleansing” of the state.
He warned then, “You must rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the Armed Forces to protect you, you will all die.
“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba, and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military, they cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no other place to go.”
The army described the General’s accusations as “unfortunate”.
Most parts of Nigeria are engulfed in one form of insecurity or the other, from herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers etc. Earlier this week, the fortified federal capital city of Abuja was breached when kidnap of some persons in Kuje – a suburb of the capital city, was reported.