Some survivors of an attack by Fulani herdsmen in Nandu community, Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have told the blood-cuddling story of the early morning raid.
Several children were burnt in the attack even as 51 houses were also razed. Property worth more than N50 million were lost in the attack, including clothings, stored grains, other foodstuff, cattle and other household goods.
One the survivors, Charity, wife of Reverend Adamu Danboyi, who spoke with Sunday Sun recounted the horrific experience.
Her words: “ What happened on Saturday, March 19, around 12 horrible. While I was sleeping, like a dream I heard some people shouting ‘they have come, they have come.’ In fact I was surprised because I did not hear our dog barking. I woke up, went round the compound to see what was happening. Then I went into the church auditorium within the compound, yet I did not see anybody. So I went back to the room to tell Rev. that I had a dream that some strangers came. As I was talking to him, we heard some people shouting and the sound of gunshots. Someone rushed into our room and said the Fulani herders came to attack us. We ran into the bush to hide. Within a few minutes, we began to see flames from houses they had set ablaze. In fact five children were burnt to ashes. They killed about three and stabbed several people. They burnt our house, grains, clothing and killed all our cattle.
In fact, we are sleeping under trees with the rest of our children. We are now so traumatised.”
While lamenting over what befell the community, Charity appealed to the government for three things, particularly a road that would offer a safe exit in the vent of any emergency and the creation of a vigilance group.
She said: “We don’t have any that leads into our village from the town. The dirt road is terribly bad. In fact if something like this happens, there is no way you can reach the town. So I am appealing to the government to provide road to Nandu village. Secondly, we need regular vigilante to protect us from these herders. We are afraid to form a vigilance group because we do not want to be considered as troublemakers. Rather, the government can set up the vigilance group. You see, the Fulani have guns and other weapons. Where can our children get these guns knowing very well that possessing a gun without licence is illegal? How can our youth face these terrible people without weapons?
Thirdly, government should help us rebuild our houses and provide us food, clothes and other social amenities because we lost money and everything.
Another survivor, Dalladi Adamu said that the attackers caught the community completely unawares. He said that a friend in a nearby village first alerted on the phone, saying that he saw Fulani men passing through his village and heading to his (Adamu’s) village and wanted to know what was happening.
“I told him that I did not know anything. I said that I would check and get back to him. So I called three people from other nearby villages to confirm whether there was any incident. These people also said they had noticed nothing. So I got back to the first caller and informed him that nothing was happening in my village.
Surprisingly, about an hour later, precisely around 1.30am, I started hearing gunshots close to my house. I woke up my family and then went outside to confirm what was happening. As we came out, we saw that people were running helter skelter and the attackers had set some houses on fire. We quickly ran into the bush to hide. Honestly, I heard the attackers speaking Fulani and Hausa with Niger ascent.
“I don’t know why the Fulani chose to attack our village. To the best of my knowledge we have been living together with all communities peacefully. Fulani herders are now coming to kill us and loot our things. We have lost everything – no member of my family has any clothes except what we are wearing. In fact, it was some sympathisers that gave us clothes. Everything in our house was burnt.
The Fulani killed eight people, three young children were burnt alive, they slaughtered three girls and a boy; they burnt an aged man in one of the houses while four persons are in critical condition and are receiving treatment at the Gwantu General Hospital,
“We have lost properties worth more than N50 million, 51 houses. In my house alone, I lost properties worth more than N2million, including grains, cattle, money, and other things.”
While expressing appreciation to the local government chairman, officials of the Kaduna State Emergency Relief Management Agency, SERMA, and the Commandant, Operation Safe Haven, who came with the military shortly after the incident’, Adamu appealed to the government to find ways to stop the attacks by the armed Fulani herdsmen terrorizing and killing them.
“It is surprising to see these herders always killing people, but they cannot be arrested. Allowing them to kill people from community to community clearly shows the shortcoming of the authorities. One day they will wipe out Nigerians.
“This is not the first time that these Fulani have attacked our area; they attacked Anfer, a nearby last year and killed 18 persons. This year it is the turn of our community, next time it will be another village,’’ Adamu said.
In the same vein, the representative of the village, Adamu Garba described the incident as a sad event and urged then government to come to their aid, saying, “we are in serious tension, fear, grief and uncertainty.’
He said further: “Every night we think of where to sleep; we sleep under the trees with our children, with no food and no shelter. Now the rainy season is approaching and it will not be good for the entire community to be homeless.” We are a great farming community in Gwantu Local Government Area though we are closer to Jos, Plateau State than Kaduna. Yet the two states benefit from our agricultural production.
“As leaders of the community, we are worried about the security situation. This is not the first time we have had this problem. Any time there is problem, the police do not normally respond in time. Like in this case, we called them severally on the phone but no help came after the attackers had finished their operations, then the mobile police came. We thank God soldiers arrived later to protect the villagers. We are appealing to government to station security in the area at least on patrol.’
I want to advise our neighbouring villages to keep an eye on the terrorist as they may be planning to attack them. People should report any suspicious movements and be combat ready for the Fulani.”
Chairman of Gwantu Local Government Area, Mr Charles Dalladi, who also spoke with Sunday Sun said that the attackers were on the run, noting that security had been beeped up in the area.
“The incident was unfortunate, but the attackers are now on the run. The security agencies are working day and night to get them arrested. We want assure the people that government would not fold its arms and watch its citizen being killed, the first fundamental function of government is to protect lives and property. Therefore we shall do everything possible not only to get these people arrested and punished but also to stop similar occurrences.
“In fact, the military had done well through their intervention to interupt the attack on some communities, otherwise we would have been hearing more bad stories.’’
“What happened has happened. The state government has sent relief materials. Governor is not in the country, but he promised to visit Nandu village as soon as he returns. He has sent his condolence message to the people of Sanga and the families of those who lost their lives.’’
Dalladi said plans to construct a road to the village had been concluded and the contractor would be mobilized soon.
“It is true that lack of good road could constitute a serious hitch in a situation like this, where quick movement of security personnel is needed. We have realized that provision of patrol vehicles to the security would also help a lot in tracking the operations of criminals especially like this one, so the council has procured three patrol vehicles. An additional three would soon be made available to the security agents.”
The District Head of Gwantu, Brig. Gen Iliya Yamma (rtd) commended the military for giving support the victims, adding, “We shall continue to create awareness and sensitize our people on security issues. We are ready to accept information about any suspicious stranger in Gwantu. We hope this will be the last attack we will have.”
In demonstration of concern for the welfare of the victims, Commandant, Operation Safe Haven, Major-General A.C.C. Agunda said the intervention of the military in the matter was to assist people of Nandu village as part of the operation of the troops.
His words: “We have mobilised our troops to keep watch on any likely attack on any village around the area. We also mobilised 23 medical doctors to assist those affected by the Fulani attack. The medical team includes nurses, laboratory scientist sand pharmacists. The plan is to attend to more than 1,500 persons in the village and provide them with free drugs on any ailment diagnosed’’
General Agunda said issue of banditory is the worst thing that could be tolerated by the military. He warned the people not fraternise with the criminals.
“Our aim is to get you united under one destiny and live peacefully with one another. Lets us have the sprit of forgiveness and reconciliation. I want to assure you that you have nothing to fear as the military will be with you and ensure that you have a good and successful farming season.”