A soldier and 24 other residents of Ussa and Takum local government areas of Taraba States are said to have been killed so far in the unending feud between Kuteb farmers and herders in the state.
This is according to the Police Public Relations Officer in Taraba State, Abdullahi Usman.
He said the military officer was ambushed and killed while the other 24 persons are either Kuteb or Fulani extractions.
“The military officer who was from the checkpoint coming back to 93 Battalion Barrack was ambushed and killed, though nothing was taken from him, his motorcycle and luckily he has no rifle on him,” Usman stated.
“He was killed by unknown persons and an investigation has been launched to unravel those behind the killing. Statistically, 20 Kuteb indigenes were killed while three Fulani herdsmen also paid the supreme price as a result of the crisis.”
He insisted that at the moment, the major problem halting the return of peace is the claim by the Fulani herdsmen that their cattle are held hostage by the Kuteb farmers and the denial from the other end.
The problem we are now facing is that the Fulani are claiming that their cattle are rustled and are held hostage within the Kuteb farmers’ areas while the Kutebs fear going to the farm for fear of attack from the Fulani herdsmen.
“The commissioner of police has called on the leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Ussa and the claimants to discuss, agree and go to where they alleged that their cattle are held hostage for fact-finding as well as the release of same for peace to reign,” the police spokesman added.
All attempts to speak to the state chairman of MACBAN proved abortive.
However, the President of the Kuteb Yatgso Association of Nigeria, Emmanuel Ukwen – an umbrella body of the Kuteb-speaking tribe in the country – revealed that peace was brokered between them late last year in which a 14-point resolution was reached and signed.
Ukwen alleged that the state government failed to provide the needed funds to implement the agreements reached which gave rise to enemies of progress to renew the attacks.
He said, “What baffles us was that peace was brokered with herdsmen, it then became an onslaught by bandits.
“Who invited or hired the bandits? We want the state government to investigate and tell the world. It should be noted that as we speak dozens of innocent citizens have been killed by the bandits in Takum, Ussa, and Yangtu Special Development Area, and equally thousands of people have been displaced from their ancestral homes.”
He said as the leader of his people, he has not seen the state government either visit his people or sympathize with them or provided the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and relief materials, a situation the state government denied saying it provided the shelter they are staying as well as relief materials in quantum.