BEING TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY THE IRIGWE DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION ON THE CONTINUOUS GRUESOME ATTACKS ON IRIGWE COMMUNITIES,
Gentlemen of the Press,
The entire Irigwe Nation in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State wishes to let the world know that since the gruesome attack on Ncha Village on the 7th September 2017, where more than twenty people were killed, mostly women and children and houses razed, Rigwe land has not known peace.
It should be known today, that since the Ncha incident, the assailants have continued to launch nightly attacks in our communities, in line with their earlier threat that Ncha was just the beginning.
We have continually woken up to news of attacks each day leaving tears, sorrow, despair and apprehension.
For the avoidance of doubt, here are details of some of the attacks after Ncha:
Hukke – 9th September 2017 – 2 persons killed including a soldier,
Nkie Dongwro – 8th October – 1 killed and another wounded.
Kpachudu – 10th October – A young man, Solomon Elisha killed allegedly by a Mobile Policeman, member of STF.
Nzhweruvo and Tafigana - 11th October, - 3 dead and houses razed down.
Rikwe Chongu – 12th October, - Houses razed down.
Taegbe – 14th October, - 6 dead, 5 injured and houses razed.
Nkyie Doghwro – 16th October – 29 dead, 3 injured at a School used as a Camp and protected by security.
At all these locations, and in all these attacks, lives as already stated above, our people lost their lives, houses razed, leaving in their wake, tears, sorrow and despair.
It is painful to note that all these happened despite useful timely information provided to security personnel, regarding movement and mode of operation of the assailants.
These attacks have continued in sequence and unstopped while no single attacker has been arrested by the security agents who will rather arrest and detain helpless natives on suspicion of possessing any form of weapon for self-defence.
We have had cause to bail so many of our youths from security agencies, while many are still languishing in detention, while no single Fulani herdsman has been arrested since the Ncha attack, despite after we provided relevant pieces of information, eg handset found on the ground during the attack. We ask, where is the justice?
Much as we understand the steps taken by Government through the deployment of security personnel to our area, we will like to state here that the much anticipated respite has eluded us, except constant harassment of our people at the various check points they mounted.
We had thought that since the invader emanate from the hills and bushes, they will deploy their energies and expertise there.
You will recall that our women in apparent dissatisfaction with the security agencies non performance, staged a protest in Jebbu Miango.
Although many have questioned their move, we consider it a desperate act by mothers who alone know the pains of child birth and seeing their youths being killed every day definately elicits such reaction.
Since the outbreak of these orchastrated attacks aimed at wiping our people from the face of the earth, we have held series of meetings with various stakeholders including security and the Fulani, but the Fulani have continue to be in denial of sponsoring these attacks, nothing has changed.
In reaction to this continous anihilation of our people, the Plateau State Government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in our area.
We had viewed this as a relief, but not knowing that it will yet, open another avenue for the Fulani attackers to operate unhindered, while our people are caged by the curfew, which the security men enforce religiously. This is unfortunate!
For the avoidance of doubt, Kpachudu village was attacked on the first day of the curfew, and Nzhwerivo on the second day.
The siege has continued with nothing done to review the effectiveness or otherwise of the curfew.
The fact that the attacks have continue till date only confirms the scepticism of our people who had questioned its essence, as they now say it is obvious the curfew was only for the Irigwe people and not the marauding heardsmen.
We therefore, urge the Government, if it must keep the curfew to do the needful and that is stop these nightly attacks on our people. Curfew should not be used as a weapon of war on our people.
We had expected that by now, given the presence of security personnel, the attackers if not arrested would have been driven away, but it seems the security personnel are only bent on mounting check points and operating questionable cordon and search operations for non existing weapons in our peoples home.
If our people had such as they are looking for, we would rather deploy them to protecting our land than hide them at home.
As we speak, a humanitarian situation looms in our land, as women and children have been displaced, while feeding is becoming impossible in homes that have accepted internal refugees. And this has spilled into Jos, where women and children stream in to find refuge with relations.
Our people cannot go to their farms anymore, even as harvest is near for fear of attacks by heardsmen who openly graze on ripe crops.
We will like to state here also, that no aid agency, government or private has visited our land to provide relief materials, we are left at the mercy of our fate.
Gentlemen of the press, we are faced with a situation that needs the collaboration of all.
We therefore urge that beyond the usual condemnation, by government officials, all relevant stakeholders must take practical steps at saving our people, if indeed we are part of Plateau State and Nigeria.
Plateau people, it is Rigweland today, it may be another ethnic nationality tomorrow, pause and ask yourslef, if it were my people, what will I do?
We see the continuous orgy of violence visited on Plateau Communities as a calculated attempt, move by the so-called “Unknown gunmen” to exterminate our tribes and enshrine an obvious agenda.
As Plateau people, we must set aside our pre-colonial rivalness, join forces and see an injury to one as injury to all so that we can defeat the forces that want to wipe us from our land.
As I end this address, I am unsure of which helpless village is next in line in this orgy of nightly attacks. We have faith in the ability of our security agencies to take practical steps if they are willing to end these attacks. We want to see arrests, we want these people out of our land and Plateau State.
Rigweland is a nation under God and we shall contine to look up to him for succour and directions.