Following the invasion of four local government areas of Plateau State by killer herdsmen, who left over 215 persons dead, 52 of the villages and communities attacked are still under occupation by the armed herdsmen.
The House of Representatives made the disclosure yesterday during plenary session.
The House has, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately recover all the 52 villages currently under “illegal and forceful occupation” by the herders; and return and resettle the displaced owners on their ancestral lands.
The affected villages are located in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, Bassa and Mangu local government areas of the state.
The House reached these resolutions after adopting a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau) and four of his colleagues from Plateau: Hon. Edward Pwajok, Hon. Timothy Golu, Hon. Solomon Maren and Hon. Johnbull Shekarau.
The National Body of Berom Youth Moulders Association (BYM) of Plateau State had recently said that 54 communities in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Governments were completely sacked and their inhabitants displaced.
National President of the BYM, Choji Dalyop Chuwang stated that their ancestral lands have been forcefully taken over by herdsmen.
“Our people have been traumatized, several killed and property destroyed to make them flee their ancestral homes which are now being occupied by the same “terrorists” like herdsmen,” Chwang had said.
Some of the affected communities are Dankum (renamed as Mahanga), Fass (renamed as Tafawa), Janda, Hywa, Rotchun, Rakweng, Shong I and II, Diyan Hei, Pwabeduk, Sharu, Dashugu, Tagabos, Shonong, Maseh, Kampwas, She, Kak, Dajak, Rarin, Kufang, Rantis, Jong, Zim, Lukfine, Lobiring, Angio, and Kachin, among others in Riyom and Barkin Ladi LGAs.
While presenting the motion on the floor, Gyang noted with shock and disbelief the massacre of men, women and children by the killer herdsmen, describing it as “barbaric acts of man’s inhumanity to man, ethnic cleansing and genocide, which constitute the worst forms of wickedness and cruelty.”
According to Gyang, there has been no appropriate response from the security agencies, adding that “this indecisiveness, inadequate response and seeming apathy of government have emboldened the killer herdsmen to continue in their acts of terror, ethnic cleansing and land grabbing.”
After an exhaustive debate, the lawmakers also agreed that the National Assembly should, immediately revisit the constitution review exercise to empower states to establish state police for effective community policing and maintenance of law and order.
According to the lawmakers, “The current security architecture has failed to bring an end to violent attacks across the country.”
While urging President Muhammadu Buhari to go beyond verbal condemnation of the attacks, the House urged the executive to arrest and prosecute all masterminds and perpetrators of the attacks and massacre, adding that “there should be a coroner’s inquest and forensic examination of the weapons and ammunition used to determine the cause of deaths, calibre and source of the weapons used.”
The lawmakers equally directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide immediate relief to the IDPs to avert a humanitarian crisis, while a special reconstruction fund should be set up by the Federal Government.
Speaking further on the motion, Gyang expressed concern that not less than 15 villages were destroyed in the well-coordinated attacks including Gana, Ropp, Bet, Rankwok, Rapwomol, Ratatis, Bwom-Hei, Nghar, Rukku, Soi, and Tisan.
Others were Katchin, Kazok, Zargok, Kura Worom, ExLands, Shonong and others in Bassa, Bokkos and Mangu.
He expressed worry that the “attacks have a pattern where once a community is attacked; it is cleansed by killing the native inhabitants and the vacated land taken over for occupation.”
Gyang lamented that the president and vice president’s visit and assurances on security have not deterred the “bandits from burning down not less than five churches in a bid to provoke religious crisis.”
He applauded the Chief Imam of Nghar, Mallam Tsoho, a Hausa man who along with one Abbas, a Yoruba Muslim shielded many natives in the mosque at the risk of losing their lives to the rampaging killer herdsmen.
Meanwhile, the House has also asked the security agencies to protect Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), who alleged that he has “documented evidence” on sponsors of the killings in Plateau.
Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had argued that since the lawmaker claims to have “documentary evidence”, he has become a state witness and should be given protection by the state.”
While contributing to the motion, Gbajabiamila submitted that: “It is important we speak with one voice irrespective of party affiliations because great nations pull together in moment of crisis and we are in a crisis. It is time for this House to be a solution-seeking House.
“One thing that is obvious is that the architecture of our security agencies needs to be changed; it is time for state police to be considered; it is time for us to amend our position and establish it by using the legislative tools to fast track the process like we did with the PIB.”
Similarly, Hon. Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi) noted that the constitution gives the president the mandate to ensure the security of the citizens of this country.
“The president has done nothing than blame others instead of seeking solution and what this means is that he has not only failed in his constitutional duties, he also doesn’t know how to solve the problem which is fast making Nigeria a failed state,” Karimi said.
Earlier, in his welcome address on the resumption of plenary yesterday, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said that history will be harsh to the present administration if it fails to stop mass killings of innocent Nigerians.
Dogara argued that whatever achievement that is being recorded by the government will not be remembered if the orgy of violence and mass killings of innocent Nigerians continues unabated.
The Speaker said: “History will have a harsh verdict for us as a government if we fail to live up to this responsibility and it won’t matter if we succeed in other areas. Unfortunately, the stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system.
“The stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system. This must not be the case. Before we ebb to the realm of anarchy, we must rise up as true representatives of the Nigerian people to salvage the situation and defend our hard-won democracy.”
He argued that the unresolved issue of rampant killing of defenseless people, including innocent and vulnerable children and women, in various parts of the country, calls for a sober reflection and more concerted efforts by the National Assembly to exploit all constitutional powers and privileges to ensure the protection of lives and property in the entire country by the security agencies.