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Stop The Killings In Takum And Ussa Now



For some time now reports from Takum and Ussa local governments speak of killings in great big bleeding batches allegedly pitting Fulani herders and Kuteb farmers. It is further reported that of recent the killings have spread to include neighbouring Jukun settlements in the area making it an all-out killing spree displacing many inhabitants of the affected areas who are forced to seek refuge in relatively safer towns of the two local government areas.

Apart from the lives lost, properties running into millions of naira have been destroyed in the ensuing violence. From all indications as the crises has spread and developed into a tit-for-tat it is likely to escalate in the coming weeks and months if the situation is not brought under control urgently.

The information I have is that the worst hit areas of the violence are the border lands between Takum and Ussa especially around the village of Manya and environs.

The dispute as earlier stated is as a result of Fulani herders trespassing on farm lands belonging to Kutebs to graze their cattle. The ensuing argument on both sides led to clashes and the inevitable killings between both groups.

Other accounts seek to put a political colouration to the issue. On the side of some of the Kuteb people I spoke to, the allegation is that the Taraba government should be held responsible for its plans to allow the setting up of a grazing reserve in the area. This is the say is unacceptable because the land to be allocated for such purposes will come from their ancestral land which they are not ready to part with. Moreover, the plan to bring in Fulani herders into the area under the scheme is an invitation for chaos as the two cannot co-habit side by side due to differences in virtually everything. They suspect that government is trying to turn the area into another Zamfara, scaring the people out of their land in order to take possession of it.

The Fulani herders on their own believe that the farmlands claimed by the Kutebs were the grazing routes marked out by government for the grazing of their cattle and as such they had the right to use it for that purpose. They also say that having endured the killing of their people and rustling of their cattle, they have no option but to defend themselves.

That this unfortunate sectarian violence has been allowed to escalate to this level without anything concrete being done by the authorities to halt it beggars belief. The crisis if not checked urgently may engulf not only the two local governments; it is likely to spread to other local governments in the southern zone as well. This is because what obtains in Takum and Ussa in terms of the tense situation between herders and farmers is also prevalent in the other local governments of the zone. 

Already what exists in the southern Taraba zone is a graveyard peace of sorts; kidnappers are still on the prowl abducting people for ransom, sporadic clashes often occur between communities over land rights and related issues. If you travel the road between Wukari and Takum you do so in the full knowledge that danger lurks the full stretch of the road. You are either at the mercy of bandits, armed robbers and kidnappers or you may happen unsuspectingly on communal violence all of which will put you and your family to grief.

It is unfortunate that the killings in Takum and Ussa have been allowed to escalate to the level that we have now. We are talking here about innocent lives involving women, children and elderly people. The sight of burnt out homesteads and despairing mothers and children watching what was once their homes destroyed along with their belongings should touch our hearts.

I must admit to being deeply concerned because yes my kindred are involved. I have strong filial affinity in both Takum and Ussa where my paternal grandmother and mother in law hail from respectively and one cannot but have a sense of pain and loss at what is happening right now in the two local governments especially.

It is really time to call on governments at all levels to intervene urgently and decisively to end the killings going on in Takum and Ussa. The people where these killings are happening must not be abandoned to their fate. They must not be made to feel that they do not matter and that they are not reckoned with as citizens of Nigeria by the local, state and Federal governments.

These areas happen to be along the international borders of Nigeria and Cameroon where a secessionist attempt is going on in the English speaking part. If the killings there are not checked it risks drawing some of the elements and groups into the area turning it into an intractable killing zone involving all and sundry. This could be a source destabilization and threat to our national security.

Another reason for urgent government intervention is that the people of the area may become disenfranchised in the run up to the all-important and during the general elections next year. At the moment the voters' registration exercise is going on and the violence is preventing the people of the area from registering and collecting their voters' card. If the killings continues unchecked this may affect the conduct of elections in the area and beyond.

The killings could also result in a setback for farming and food production. We are in the middle of the farming period when farming activities are in full swing. The areas are well known farming communities from where food items are cultivated. As a result of the killings, farmers have not only fled, they may not be persuaded to return to their farms until they are reasonably assured of the safety and security of their families.

It is quite likely that this will drastically affect the production and harvest of crops and food items from this very important agricultural area.

Government exists to protect citizens and this sacred duty is a constitutional obligation. Where the safety and security of citizens come under threat such as is happening in Takum and Ussa we expect the government to act promptly in defence of the citizens. From the way and manner of approach of government to the happenings in the two local governments not many are convinced that the government is living up to the obligation it owes people affected by the on-going violence there.

As a matter of urgency the Taraba state government is hereby called upon to intervene in stopping the killings going on in Takum and Ussa. The state government must do this decisively so as to prevent the violence from escalating out of its present manageable proportions.

Commiserations to Minister Muazu Jaji

A couple of weeks ago I congratulated Honourable Minister of Transportation Muazu Jaji on his appointment to the position he now occupies in the Federal Executive Council. It was by many accounts a deserved appointment and a cause to be joyful especialy for us Tarabans.

While the jubilation on this cheering news was yet to die down news came of the passing on of the Minister's younger brother which sad event happened on Monday July 18, 2022.

In conveying my condolences, I would call on the Minister to see this as yet another example of Allah's will where he tests our faith and submission to him. Here in the space of a couple of weeks, Allah the Supreme Being brought both joy and sadness to the Minister in manifestation of his supremacy over us, mere mortals.

As we mourn with the Minister over this sad loss, we pray Allah to grant him the fortitude to bear it and for the deceased to be granted peaceful repose in Aljanna Firdaus ameen. 


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