The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, has described the attacks on some communities in Plateau State as an act of retaliation over the killing of 300 cows belonging to its members.
Suspected herdsmen had on Saturday night, through Sunday, attacked Riyom, Barakin Ladi and Jos South local government areas of the state, killing over 100 persons, though the Police confirmed 86.
Miyetti Allah’s statement came Monday, as fresh attacks on Kwi village in Riyom local government area claimed one more life in the early hours, despite the dusk-to-dawn curfew declared in the three local government areas.
This is even as President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, advised citizens not to take laws into their hands in the recent upsurge of clashes between farmers and herdsmen, declaring that politicians were now taking advantage of the crisis between both groups to cause havoc, with a view to securing advantage in the 2019 general elections.
Chairman of the North Central zone of MACBAN, Danladi Ciroma, who signed the statement, said herdsmen in the state had lost about 300 cows in the weeks leading to the attack.
He accused the communities of hiding cattle rustlers among them as well as frustrating peace efforts of the state government.
He said: “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human beings, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu. “Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts.”
Ciroma added that security agencies should be fair to all parties, and not neglect any report presented by herdsmen, saying “because such report can lead to attacks and deaths if not properly handled.”
He said: “Criminals thrive a lot in Berom communities, but when the herdsmen, who are always victims of their crime, react with attacks, they blame the government.”
Hundreds have been killed this year alone in attacks by suspected herdsmen as well as in clashes between the herders and farmers, with President Muhammadu Buhari vowing to bring the killers to book.
However, despite the dusk-to-dawn curfew declared in the three local government areas on Sunday, there were reports of attack and killings in the early hours of yesterday at Kwi village in Riyom Local Government Area.
No official of government or security confirmed the incident as the Police Public Relations Officer, Mathias Tyopev said he was not aware of the development. But a member of the State House of Assembly, representing Riyom, Mr. Daniel Dem, an indigene of the area claimed it happened.
He said: “Yes, I was called and informed that Kwi was attacked this morning (yesterday), but I can’t say how many people were killed. But there are still people trapped at Palang village of Shonong, no security is there to rescue them and the boundary between Riyom and Kaduna State is tensed.
“Since this ugly incident started, we have not rested, I just returned from Riyom to do a few things and go back there.”
Another indigene of Kwi, Mr. Dauda Gyemang, also confirmed the attack, saying “yes, a sick woman was killed.
She was mentally retarded and could not run when residents started hearing the sporadic gunshots until the attackers caught up with her and killed her.”
The state government in its latest reactions to the incident yesterday, expressed displeasure at the manner gory pictures of the incident were being circulated on social media and called for caution.
The government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said: “The state government observed with great concern the manner in which gory pictures of victims of the unfortunate attacks in parts of the state are being circulated on social media.
“While sympathizing with affected families and communities, government is advising citizens to respect the sanctity of both the living and the dead, particularly at this time when the entire state is in mourning mood.”
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