…Burns down Paramount Ruler’s family house, kills, parades AK47 freely.
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The crisis rocking Atyab Chiefdom in Zangon-Kataf local government area of southern part of Kaduna State has taken a new and dangerous dimension, as Fulani militia have reportedly razed down the family compound of the Paramount Ruler of Atyab, HRH Sir Dominic Yahaya.
Similarly, the revered places of worship were not spared as seven Churches and their Pastorium were also razed down by fire by the Fulani militia in various locations in the area during the attacks on 12 different villages.
Briefing journalists on Saturday, in Kaduna, the Atyab Community Development Association (ACDA) leaders disclosed that a total of 42 natives have so far been killed, 338 houses burnt with seven people wounded by the armed-welding Fulani militia.
The leaders of the community led by the ACDA President, Comrade Samuel T. Achie, told journalists that several other valuables were also not left out, as eight cars,13 motorcycles, generators, food and other domestic items were looted and consumed by fire in the terror attack of the militia.
The association also revealed that family house of the former Commandant of Nigeria-African Peace Keeping arm, the ECOMOG, retired Major-General Shekari Biliyock, has been set ablaze.
“The Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria once directed that anybody found in possession of deadly arms be shot at sight. But as I am talking to you, Fulani militias still graze in Atyapland with AK47 hung on their shoulders and shoot at any sight of a Kataf man.
“At one point or the other, the security forces are called and they see them with it but no arrest made. One begins to wonder whether the command by Mr. President Buhari is implementable or not.
“Gentlemen, I want to at this point appeal to all of you in this hall to find time and come to Atyapland, go round the villages to see things for yourselves. This will also grant you the opportunity to see and verify where the Fulani houses claimed to be burnt down that are up to 400 and in which of these villages, if any,” they lamented.
ACDA further expressed regret that, “The entire Atyap Nation seems to be at loss to these senseless killings by the Fulani militia, as we have bent over to implement the decisions of the peace accord reached with the parties involved.
“The question is, what else were we supposed to do that was not done? It seems apparent that these attacks are being sponsored with larger motives that meet the eye.
“With all these being said, Gentlemen of the Press, in concrete terms we can submit that the resolve of our desire for peace is under threat by these Fulani militia. We felt that we will be better off, if we stay in peace as brothers, as it was the case in time past.
“It is a well-known fact world over that, all crises are not won at the battle field, but at round-table through discussions that could lead to amicable resolution of the crises with the parties determined to bring an end to it,” they said.
According to ACDA, “The attacks span across the Atyap-dominated districts in the Chiefdom, as if it was a deliberate act. These attacks are not mere herders or banditry, but premeditated attempt to wipe out the Atyap race.
“We have made efforts to be at peace with all the people in the chiefdom; thus the importance of this briefing. The Atyap people were defenseless for the whole time the carnage took place with no protection.
“There is no any place in all the areas attacked that has a distance of more than 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from one security checkpoint to the other. It is not only lives and houses that were destroyed, but crops and places of worship inclusive.
“Our people are known to be purely peasant farmers, but at this season of farming have to abandon their farms for fear of being killed.
“All schools in the area are closed down; hence our children can no longer go to school, therefore, creating a humanitarian crisis for all the displaced people in the land, which in turns creates an urgent need for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps to cater for those that have been left at the mercy of the weather, both in rain and sunshine, without any roof on their heads since the renewed persistent attacks.
“These whole things look like the Fulani militia wants to grab and occupy our land. The Atyap people are law abiding citizens that have been loyal to all successive governments to date and wonder why we should be left alone to carry our cross now.
“Based on these, we ask that government provide more troops, humanitarian relief materials and a peaceful atmosphere for all, else we will be left with no other option than to protect ourselves using all legal means,” they stated.
“In a continuation of their onslaught on our land, the Fulani militia have unbelievably stormed and unleashed terror, bloodshed and destruction in the following communities just within the span of 2 week.
“What is most surprising is the ability of these militias to successfully continue to test the powers of the military by carrying out their well orchestrated evil acts of killing, maiming and burning hundreds of houses for several hours with little or no intervention by the security forces, since the security personnel find it difficult to engage these heartless murderers when they arrive at the scene of the attack.
“It left us to wonder whether they are under oath or instruction not to confront and shoot the assailants. A typical example is Matyei, Magamiya and Abuyab communities, which are all only about 3 kilometres from the military checkpoint in Zango and Samaru Kataf.
“Another surprising thing we want the world to know is that in some of the attacked villages, Hilux vans were cited with food items and other valuable loaded on these vehicles before other properties and houses are set ablaze.
“It beats our imagination that with all these happenings, no arrest has been made and none of the Fulani militias has been killed by the military forces. Instead, some of our leaders were arrested and taken to police custody here in Kaduna to produce alleged killers of cows, showing a cow is worth more than human life.
“These leaders, whose ages range from 43 to 85 years, spent 3 months in the hands of Police before been taken to court and granted bail, after 92 days in detention. Since last year, we have made frantic efforts to meet and discuss with the Hausa and the Fulani communities to reach a compromise on how to live in peace with each other and are still on that course.
“We have always towed the path of peace, not that we are cowards, but because it is what our parents bequeathed to us, by and large our religion taught us so. In spite of that, we will not fold our hands to be annihilated and our lands taken over.
“The absolute silence of the government on all these happenings in Atyapland makes us to begin to wonder whether the Atyap people are still citizens of the state, because we are yet to see any proactive step by the government to end these killings in our soil, neither has there been any comforting statement in reference to our situation.
“For this reason, we therefore call on the government of Kaduna State to without fear or favour come alive to its responsibility to put an end to the dastard and condemnable killings of our citizens,” the body stated.
Fielding questions from newsmen, the ACDA president said they’re not in war since 1992. He, however, revealed that Hausa-Fulani children have access to everything in Atyapland but their children are not given the same treatment in Sabon Gari Zaria and other LGs of their origin in Northern Kaduna.