The Executive Chairman of Takum local government in Taraba state, Hon. Shiban Tikari on Monday said the statement by Rtd. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma accusing the Armed Forces of colluding with killers to kill Nigerians has vindicated him and his people.
Tikari and his Ussa counterpart, Rimansikwe Karma had on Wednesday last week accused the army operatives of Operation Ayem Akpatuma (Cat Race), currently ongoing in the state of bias, extortion and brutality of innocent civilians in the state, while providing cover for the killer herdsmen to attack communities in Takum and Ussa local government areas.
The two chairmen during interaction with journalists in Takum alleged that the commencement of the operation Cat Race in the area had rather witnessed resumed attacks by herdsmen on some communities in Takum and its environs with scores killed and over 1,300 people displaced.
“It is sad to note that the soldiers of exercise Ayem Akpatuma are harassing our people in the towns, while herdsmen are attacking and killing our people in the rural communities. “I am the Chief Security Officer of my local government, but I was not informed of the commencement of the operation in my area and with other local government chairmen.
“They did not carry us along, yet we are cooperating with them by giving them information which in most cases they don’t make use of. We have prevailed on our people to remain calm and cooperate with them. It’s unfortunate that they are doing what they are doing,” he said.
But the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu in a statement accused the Taraba State government of not cooperating with the army due to the stance of the military to remain neutral in the herdsmen/farmers clashes in the state.
“It is noteworthy to state that at the inception of Ex AYEM AKPATUMA, the Taraba State Government, did not cooperate with the Nigerian Army due to the Army’s stance to remain absolutely neutral in the herdsmen-farmers crisis. The Nigerian Army will continue to remain as such,” part of the statement read.
But contrary to the army’s claim that the Taraba State government refused to cooperate with them,
it was gathered that though the army did not pay the usual courtesy call on the governor at the beginning of the operation, the governor has directed all council chairmen to provide support for the operation.
Governor Ishaku’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Hon. Emmanuel Bello told journalists that the governor’s stance for peaceful coexistence earned him “an ambassador of peace award presented to him, by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Army 3 Division, Jos, Major Gen. Benjamin Ahonatu recently in Jalingo.
“The governor has also directed the state-owned broadcast media to do comprehensive coverage of the operation to give the exercise the needed publicity,” he said.
An investigation by our correspondent revealed that Governor Darius Ishaku had on several occasions written the Presidency over the security situation in the state, advising the President not to view the attacks as mere clashes as the attackers were taking over communities and farmlands from the indigenous people.
In one of the letters dated July 5, 2017, the governor wrote the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo over the security situation around Kashimbilla Dam and requested for the establishment of permanent security base in the area, but no security presence yet in the area.
When contacted, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan-Abu confirmed that the governor has written several letters to the president over the security situation in the state, but declined further comments on the Army’s allegations that the state government refused to cooperate with them in the Ex Ayem Akpatuma.
It could be recalled that before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari to Taraba state, the state governor had raised alarm over plans to attack Taraba within 10 days and hours after the governor’s alarm communities in Gassol local government were attacked and four people were killed.
This was even as the government raised alarm over the alleged delivery of arms by a helicopter in Jibu village in Wukari local government area of the state, but the police in the state dismissed the alarm.
Takum Youths want the army to be fair to all.
The Youth Leader of Takum, Mr. Emmanuel Umaru who alleged that the army have been looking the other way while people in the area were being killed by herdsmen appealed to the military to be fair to all.
Umaru alleged that the coming of the military coincided with the coming of the Fulani herdsmen who invaded their communities given rise to the spate of killings by the herdsmen in Kpashi, Muji I and II, Kwesati among others.
“Since last year, the Fulani left our communities and never returned, only to return the same day the army began operation Ayem Akpatuma and subsequent attacks on our communities. This is very suspicious.
“In a clear case of complicity, the military were alerted of the attack on Kpashi village, but they rather went to Muji and it took them five hours after the attackers finished burning the village before they got there.
“These kinds of actions and the brutality and extortion of the civilian population is most unfortunate. We are ready to cooperate with the army to succeed in their exercise, but they should be just and fair to all.
“The Operation Ayem Akpatuma in the state is discriminatory. While people in the towns and villages are being harassed and their cutlasses and kitchen knives were taken away from them, the herdsmen are being left with sophisticated weapons in the bush attacking and killing our people.
“We want the army to disarm these people attacking us. We are all Nigerians and we should be treated as people of the same country,” he said.