From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Following the killing of hundreds of persons of Kuteb extraction and destruction of over forty villages in parts of Southern Taraba in a wave of continued attacks by bandits, the Kuteb Youth Organization has called on the federal government to urgently deploy soldiers to the area to stop what could possibly become a total annihilation of the ethnic group.
Mr Caleb Ure, leader of the group who issued a press statement in Jalingo said that the attacks have continued unabated for months and have already cost so many lives and created a serious humanitarian situation with over a hundred and twenty persons forced to leave their homes to take refuge in safer clans.
He regretted that despite the killing and destruction that has continued for months and the hardship it has brought upon the people, the state government has chosen to live in denial claiming that nothing of sort was happening.
The group noted that the seeming conspiracy of silence and action over the killing gives credence to the speculations that there is a political undertone as even the death of six military officers in the hands of the bandits in the area has been swept under the carpet.
“It has become necessary for us to draw the attention of the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari and the world to the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Kuteb people of Takum and Ussa Local Government Areas as well as Yangtu Special Development Area of Southern Taraba by bandits and the negligence of Taraba State Government in protecting lives and properties of Southern Taraba indigenes.
“On the 2nd of February, a Kuteb man was slaughtered by fulani herdsmen on his farm at Kpambo-yashe community. On the 17th of April, the bandits carried out mass massacre, wiping out entire Kwentwen community of Ussa Local Government Area of Taraba State. Yet there was no word from Government condemning such barbaric act or sympathizing with the victims. Emboldened by the silence of the authorities, the attackers moved to Muji, Tutuwa, Gangum Fawen, Flashin, Rikwen Tumu, Rikwen Cwu, Tswaen 1 & 2, Kando, Kasiten, Kpashi, Mbiya, Kakum, Tukok, Gaba areas among others in Takum Local Government Area (the home town of the sitting Governor) in successive attacks, killing and maiming helpless villagers while survivors flee.
“Troops of 93 Battalion of Nigeria Army in Takum who responded to distress calls from perishing souls in the attacked communities were ambushed by the bandits leading to loss of six gallant soldiers and abduction of the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col Okore. Yet the Federal Government and Taraba State Government have remained silent.
“These heinous attacks create deplorable security situation that is threatening every aspect of life of our people, forcing over 120,000 persons to abandon their homes to seek refuge in Takum and Lissam towns. The attacks are still ongoing and villages are left in ruins and rubbles. We want to state clearly that if this situation is not addressed expediently, the future of our people is under serious threat. As we speak, we can no longer engage in farming which is our primary economic activity.
“The Government of Taraba State under the watch of Arch. Darius Ishaku remains silent and turned a deaf ear to the reports that have been written to the State Government over the continuous killing of the Kuteb people in Southern Taraba. We wonder how about seven soldiers lost their lives as a result of these attacks, hundreds of our people killed, our communities are razed down by these bandits and over 120,000 of our people were displaced yet the state Government remains silent.
“Our concern is that all these attacks have been executed without any strong, coordinated and consistent intervention from the security agencies, most especially since the soldiers were killed by the Bandits and the Commanding Officer of the 93 Battalion was abducted. We are calling on the federal government and international community to rise up and act before our people are consumed. Just last night Sunday 31st July, one of our community Tutuwa came under heavy attack with many lives lost. We appeal to security agencies operating in Southern Taraba to increase intelligence gathering and intensify efforts to restore normalcy and bring to book the perpetrators and their sponsors” the statement read in parts.
Daily Sun reports that several communities in parts of Takum, Ussa local government areas and Yangtu Special development area have been under attacks for months now leading to the death of several persons and destruction of villages. Some stakeholders have continued to raise concern over the unabated attacks and seeming silence and inaction on the part of government to stop the killings, some some people alleging that there is political undertone to the situation.