Gyang Bere, Jos
The search for refuge has become an endless battle for 69-year-old Titi Joel Garba, whose husband was gruesomely murdered by Fulani herdsmen in Shonong, Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State. Sadly, Garba was not just killed but his lifeless body was roasted like chicken along several others.
Titi’s husband was killed together with Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong and former Majority Leader of the state Assembly during the procession for mass burial of about 45 persons who were attacked and killed by herdsmen in Shonong community in 2012. She escaped death narrowly during the attack that wiped the entire village. Her son was killed during the attack and her husband murdered during the mass burial.
She was forced out of the village with some survivors to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp but their houses and properties were burnt during the attack. Titi and other community members in the IDP camp were willing to return home but there was no sufficient security on ground for their return. They ended up in the IDPs camp and their land taken forcefully by the herdsmen.
Since then, no member of the community have returned home. Currently, the villages along that axis were leveled, while the only government primary school in the locality was destroyed. The blocks and roofing sheets were removed by the herdsmen and new structures have been erected using the blocks and the roofing sheets in the land of the displaced villagers.
Titi was without home, she could not return to Shonong because of fear of insecurity. She remained in the IDP camp begging for survival. Luckily, her son who moved to Abuja after the attack built her a house and resettled her at Gashish in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area in 2016. Titi left the IDPs camp to her new abode in Gashish and settled there for about two years. As she was trying to understand and get familiar with the community, the Fulani herdsmen struck again.
This time, it was deadly. Women were hacked to death with their children trapped on their backs on Saturday, June 23, 2018, perishjng over 230 persons. The widow survived the attack again but lost the house, her son and several relations. Titi returned to a new IDPs camp with other survivors at Anguldi in Jos South Local Government.
For more than one year now, the widow has being languishing without help in the IDPs camps without the necessary facilities. She has being passing through hell since 2012, as the search for residence has become a difficult task for her.
Titi is willing to return to Gashish but her home has been completely destroyed. She couldn’t return with other community members who were resettled in December 2018 by the Operation Safe Haven and Plateau State Government: “I am from Shonong village and leaves in Gashish community of Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State after we were displaced in 2012. I have been passing through hell since my husband was killed in 2012. The sad attack of June 23, 2018, at Gashish District has compounded my situation.
“After the 2012 episode, we were attacked and displaced again for more than one year now by Fulani herdsmen in Gashish. I lost my son and several relatives, the house, which my son built for me was burnt and destroyed by herdsmen I escaped by the grace of God.
“My properties including foodstuffs were among several others destroyed in the house. Our people were killed and roasted like chickens, they were buried in hundreds and their homes destroyed. Those of us who survived came down to the IDP camp.
“In 2012, my husband was killed together with Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong and former Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly. During the procession for mass burial of victims of Fulani attack and his house destroyed in Shonong.
“In 2018, the house that was built for me by my son was burnt down. That is the situation that I have found my self now. As we speak, I don’t have a house to stay and I don’t want my life to end in this IDPs camp.
“Some members of my community have returned home. Those of us who had our houses destroyed were abandoned in the IDP camp, we can’t return until our houses are rebuilt. I want to go home and look after the inheritance of my husband. I want government to rebuild my house it is not good to remain in the IDP camp. I have been struggling to see if I can build one room to relocate to the village but things have been so difficult for me.”
Mrs Rifkatu Ayuba, a resident of Shonong has forfeited her home. Her husband and two of her children were killed in the deadly attack in Shonong and the community taken over by herdsmen: “I want to go home, I have lost my children, husband and my house, government should vacate people who attacked and took over our land.”
Senator representing Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, said: “The National Assembly has the constitutional responsibility for making laws for peace and order. The priority for peace requires that we need to have peace and order. For us to have order, there must be enforcement of law for criminally minded citizens in the midst of us.
“Once the law is enforced, it will checkmate these criminals. But if anyone and is allowed to do anything and get away with it, it gives them boldness to continue with criminality but with the enforcement of law, it becomes deterrent to others.
“What happened is that communities have been displaced and it is just like under the proceeds of crime. No one should be allowed to retain the proceeds of crime. No person should be allowed to displace another person to keep the proceeds.
“In the process of resettling communities, those occupying the displaced communities must be vacated so that the rightful owners should be resettled and the issue is key, paramount and critical.”