Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Chief Augustine Njanmeng, the Chief of Kona in Jalingo Local Government Area of Taraba State, on Wednesday, decried the forceful takeover and occupation of 17 villages belonging to Kona people by the armed Fulani herdsmen.
Njanmeng made this known while briefing newsmen in his palace in Jalingo.
He accused the herdsmen of comfortably grazing on the farms of the displaced people, carrying sophisticated weapons intending to shoot anyone on sight.
“Gentlemen of the press, you recall that the peaceful people of Kona came under severe attacks recently from heavily- armed herdsmen who invaded our communities, killed our people and destroyed their homes.
“The people who survived the attacks mostly ran to stay at various camps for internally displaced persons and relatives. It is so worrisome that these villages that were sacked are now occupied by the armed herdsmen while they continue to graze on the farms that are already at various levels. More than 12 hectares of my own farm have been completely destroyed. The people cannot attempt to go back home or to their farms because the herdsmen have taken over these places and are bringing in other herdsmen to settle on these ancestral lands.
“This is not only barbaric and deliberate provocation of war, but also a harbinger of serious food crisis ahead of us. When farms are turned to grazing grounds, it simply means we are making way for hunger. Let me call on the Federal government and even the international community to urgently call these marauding herdsmen to order to forestall a situation that no one would be able to control.
“Kona people are peace-loving people and so far, we have taken this unprovoked attacks with as much patience as possible, in the hope that the relevant agencies will do the needful soon. But there is a limit to our patience. No one has the monopoly of violence. We can never forfeit our ancestral homes to become nomads staying at primary schools. The government should, therefore, intervene in time before it is too late.”
He cautioned the government of an impending food crisis in the state, if those displaced were not returned to continue with their farming.
Although some of the villages were considered too volatile to visit, even with security presence, our correspondent who visited some of the farms reports massive destruction especially to maize and groundnuts farms.
Mr James Ayuba, one of the farmers whose farm has been destroyed by the herdsmen called on the government at all levels to end the crisis.
Alhaji Sahabi Tukur, Chairman, Taraba State chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) declined to comment on the issue and said he was not authorised by his national office to respond to issues arising from the herders-farmers crisis in the state.