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Column: Taraba Monarchs Speaking to Bandits, Kidnappers in the language they understand

By Iliyasu Gadu

It is commendable that Taraba monarchs have set a no nonsense, zero tolerance tone to the activities of Bandits and Kidnappers in the state. 

Just recently during the Eid Kabir prayers the Emir of Muri his Royal Highness Alhaji Abbass Tafida followed the example of the Chairman of Taraba state council of traditional rulers his Majesty the Aku Uka of Wukari in facing up to the scourge of bandits and kidnappers in the state. The Aku Uka had swiftly and decisively mobilised stakeholders in the Wukari axis to identify and flush out known kidnappers and bandits and their domain of operations a few months ago. 

With the latest development by the Emir of Muri who weighed in with his considerable voice of authority the miscreants operating in the area should know that their game is up.

I first came to know the present Emir of Muri His Royal Highness Alhaji Abbas Tafida back in the early 1980s when I used to visit my late friend and colleague Ambassador Saad Baba who was then living with the monarch at his house in Ikoyi, Lagos. The monarch was then Chief Executive of Nigeria Hotels Limited.

He struck me as a strict disciplinarian and although he had not yet been installed as Emir, there was that unmistakable air of royalty about him. Not just because he was then a prince, but even his carriage radiated authority and order.

I was then not surprised when at his Sallah address on Tuesday 19th July 2021, he issued a stern, uncompromising warning to the kidnappers and bandits who have laid siege on the state making life unbearable for innocent, and law abiding citizens. This scourge is especially rife in the Iware and Sunkani areas. 

There have been many reported cases of persons kidnapped in those areas and worse of all some get killed even after the ransom demanded by the kidnappers have been paid. Bandits too have made it impossible for farmers to go to their farms because of fear of either being kidnapped or being asked to pay fees to the bandits before they could be allowed access to their farms. 

It has gotten so bad that anybody travelling the long stretch of federal road between Wukari and Jalingo the state capital will be in constant prayers throughout so as not to fall into the hand of those criminals. Many have died or been maimed by those heartless fiends.

The kidnappers and bandits have become more brazen in that they have come to extend their activities into Jalingo. Due to fear of falling victim of these miscreants, Jalingo night life which used to be bubbling well into the night nowadays resembles a ghost town by 8pm.

No serious authority will allow such to continue to happen without redemption. Although the state government has done the best it could to stem the tide of such happenings, there is need for other stakeholders to join in the crusade in order degrade and totally wipe out this scourge from our dear state.

The intervention by the Emir of Muri by giving the kidnappers and bandits an ultimatum of thirty days to stop their activities or face the wrath of the traditional authorities of which he is the leader is timely, appropriate and in order. Indeed the action of the revered Emir is commendable in that he identified the Fulanis among them who are involved in this activity and warned them to desist from these unwholesome behaviours. 

The Emir's warning in this regard amounts to charity beginning at home because being a Fulani person and as the leader and ruler of Fulanis and other ethnic groups in the Muri Emirate, it behoves on him to speak out and lead by example. If as a monarch he elects to keep quiet while all this is happening under his domain, it will be to his eternal discredit.

The action by the Emir of Muri and the Aku Uka should convince those who have wrongly accused monarchs of keeping mum while their subjects are under the reign of terror by the criminals. Although in some states, some monarchs have either chosen to keep mum for some inexplicable reasons or some have been found to have even colluded with the bandits and kidnappers, this can hardly happen in a state like Taraba. 

Everybody knows that from history and antecedents as well as our culture, Tarabans banditry and kidnapping are alien to our culture and as such we can never tolerate such activities. We are known for honest labour and living by the legitimate sweat of our brows. We wear our conditions with pride in the knowledge that it is better to maintain a good name than to engage in activities that will soil our backgrounds. 

For instance I once had an argument with a friend of mine who hails from one of the northern states. He attempted t to denigrate Taraba in disparaging terms. But I challenged him to go round and investigate whether he will find a single beggar or criminal of Taraba descent and for which I will gladly pay him a certain amount of money if he makes such a discovery. 

You are likely to discover that even those engaged in these activities are either from other states or the Tarabans found amongst them may have been influenced by their association with others from outside the state.  

The posture by our royal fathers should be vigorously and robustly supported by all sundry. All other stakeholders should join hands to face up to this scourge in a concerted way to rid our Taraba from the activities of such miscreants. As we are already saddled with other existential problems to add that activities of bandits and kidnappers to the mix will be an ill wind that will blow nobody good in Taraba. As we have seen how these miscreants have laid siege and virtually paralysed activities in other states of the federation, a fragile state like Taraba can ill afford to tolerate their presence in our midst.

Already we have starting seeing the results of the intervention of the monarchs. A few days after he delivered his warning, the ardos and other local leaders in the Iware and Sunkani areas have paid a solidarity call to the Emir of Muri to pledge their support for him and promised to do the needful. 

Similarly in the Wukari/Ibbi axis due to the vigilant attention of the Aku Uka and other stakeholders, bandits and kidnappers if they exist at all do that with great circumspection because of the consequences that will follow once they are identified and captured. This is as should be. 

There is no room for fence sitting on this matter. The activities of these criminals are not tainted by religious or ethnic colouration. Indeed in a dark, negative way they are more united in pursuit of their activities than us ordinary law abiding folks. Their victims cut across ethnic groups and religion. 

So in this regard the effort to stop these activities must also cut across religious, ethnic and political divides. All Tarabans must join hands to end this scourge. 

At the end of the day the overarching goal is for a peaceful, safe and secure Taraba for all of us Tarabans as well as other law abiding residents in the state.       


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