President Muhammadu Buhari in Monday visited Taraba state in the aftermath of several killings as a result of clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, calling on traditional rulers in the state to find a lasting solution to the recurring communal clashes between the Fulani and the indigenous Mambilla residents in Sardauna Local Government Area of the state.
He said the traditional institution rather than the federal or state government was better placed to find a lasting solution to the crisis due to its closeness to the people.
Buhari, who noted that he was in the state to condole and sympathise with the victims of the Mambilla crisis, tasked the traditional rulers to go and sit down with the people to find solutions to the problems, just as he urged them to continue to preach peace.
The President stressed that he and Governor Ishaku would one day leave office as president and governor but the traditional rulers would remain with the people.
He said: “I am in Taraba State to condole with the victims of the Mambilla crisis and sympathise with them over their losses. The traditional rulers are in a better position to find solutions to the problems.
“Myself as president and the governor would leave office, and only the traditional rulers will remain with the people. Therefore, the traditional rulers should go and sit down with the people to find solutions to the problems and continue to preach peace.”
Buhari disclosed that he chose to visit Taraba ahead of other troubled areas because more people were killed on the Mambilla Plateau than in Benue and Zamfara States.
Responding to the president’s charge to the traditional rulers to resolve the communal clashes in the state, the Chairman of Taraba State Traditional Council, the Aku Uka of Wukari, Dr. Shekarau Angyo Masa Ibi, said the traditional institution should be strengthened for it to carry out the responsibility.
In his speech, Governor Ishaku noted that what was happening in the state was criminality, saying those fomenting trouble in the state were not herders but criminals.
He stated that at inception, he met a polarised state and his administration was confronted with the problem of cattle rustling, which he said he had tackled successfully, just as he thanked the president for finding time to visit the state.
Among the stakeholders present at the meeting were the three senators representing the state led by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, members of the House of Representatives and the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Alhassan.
It would be recalled that over 150 people have lost their lives in the various crises that occurred in different parts of the state particularly in Lau Local Government Area, where 68 persons were killed by Fulani herdsmen in January 2018.
The victims of the Lau crisis, who were killed in the five villages of Donadda, Lavoro, Katibu, Didango and Maku, were given a mass burial on January 10, while 15 others were said to be still missing.
Also on January 27, a farmer was killed on his farm at Gidin Dorowa in Wukari Local Government Area by herdsmen who equally attacked the convoy of the local government chairman who had gone to the scene to assess the situation.
Accusation of Bias
Meanwhile, President Buhari has been lampooned by the representative of the Yangdan people in Lau Local Government, Dr. Alfred Kobiba, for being silent on the Lau killings.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting with the president, Kobiba noted that he wrote a letter to Ishaku detailing the number of casualties recorded in the crisis as well as those missing and copied same to the president, DG, DSS, National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Chief of Staff to the President, but was shocked that the president did not make any comment on Lau but was only interested in Mambilla.
“When Fulani herdsmen perpetrated the worst evil in our land in January, I wrote to the governor stating that 68 people were killed and 15 others missing and copied the letter to the president, DG DSS, NSA and Chief of Staff to the President, but we are shocked that the president only talked about Mambilla without saying anything about the killings in Lau.”