In the wake of the return of permanent peace to the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State after a series of crises that has claimed over 260 lives, AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) and ANDREW OJIH (Jalingo) write on how the state government intervened with a N310 million compensation for the victims and a call to maintain peace.
After a bloody clash that claimed over 260 lives, destroyed property worth billions of naira and left comuniuties desolate with hunger, frustrations and the need to recover from the huge loss, the people of Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State needed more than verbal encouragement to pick up the pieces of their lives.
The Mambilla Plateau has seen more than enough of skirmishes in the past, a development that has worried the Taraba State government. It has witnessed several ethnic crises dating back to the 1970s. There were attacks in 1979, 1980, 1982, 2001, 2002 and 2017. In each, the fighting was among the major ethnic groups on the Mambilla Plateau.
Each round of violence spiralled into the next with successive governments failing to punish those responsible for the previous killings.
Thousands of people were said to have been displaced by the 2002 crisis, with many slipping across the border, into neighbouring Cameroon.
Mambilla is the host of an all-important $5.9 billion federal hydropower project, aimed at generating 3,050 megawatts of electricity.
The area is also known to be rich in agriculture because of its fertile soil but the crisis in the area, many observers believe, is discouraging investment drive to Taraba State.
Although, the crisis, according to them, is avoidable if a workable understanding is created among the people living in the area, the government, they said, must also be proactive in its move to ensure peace and tranquillity in the area by ensuring that the people are always engaged in peace talks.
As the Taraba State government is making efforts to bring lasting peace to the area, leaders of the various groups residing there have been urged to tow the path of peace to avoid unnecessary loss of lives and property.
Every committed government takes the security and welfare of its citizens as top most priority.
The resurgence of violence on the Mambilla Plateau early this year that claimed a good number of lives informed the decision of the Taraba State government to set up an assessment committee to look at the level of damage done.
The committee, which was headed by Chief Emmanuel Njiwah, while collecting details of the next of kin of those who died in the June 2017 and March 2018 crises on the Plateau, urged the next of kin to forgive one another and live in peace for the overall development of their communities.
Njiwah, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon, told the people to shun anything that would breed violence among them to give room for development.
“I am pleased to inform you that governor Ishaku is set to rehabilitate the victims of the crises in your various communities.
“As you all know, the committee has gone round all your communities to assess the extent of damage caused by the crises on the Plateau in 2017 and 2018.
“We are here to capture the names, photographs and signatures of the rightful next of kin identified by Jauros and Ardos, who lost their lives in the unfortunate incidents for immediate assistance by the governor.
“I urge all of you to eschew violence, forgive one another and live in peace for the common good of everyone on the plateau irrespective of tribes,” he said.
Alhaji Saidu Bawa, the Wakilin Fulani in the council, who is also a member of the committee, commended the governor for making efforts to find lasting solutions to the recurrent crises on the Plateau.
It took the 19-member committee 10 days to move around the difficult terrain to assess the level of damage in the affected areas.
Some of the areas visited include Nyiwa, Bang, Kwarakwara, Bang 3 corner, Bang down, Yerimaru, Leme, Ngoroje, Dorofi.
Others are Mayo -Ndaga, Mayo- Sena, Yelwa, Mai Samari, Leme-Tella, Leme Mogogo, Hinare, Dembe, among others.
After the report of the 19-man committee, governor Darius Ishaku swung into action and disbursed the sum of 310 million Naira to victims of 2017/2018 crises at Mambilla Plateau in Sadauna local government area of Taraba State.
The disbursement was done in Gembu, the headquarters of Sadauna local government area through the Crisis Victims Support Scheme, phase one, which was introduced by the governor in the state.
While addressing the crisis victims, Governor Darius regretted the occurrence of the crises which he said, has killed no fewer than 264 persons and also destroyed properties worth billions of naira between 2017 and 2018.
He said the figure of those killed in the crises as being authenticated by the fact finding committee that was set up by the state government has proven wrong of the figures from outsiders who were speculating that thousands of people were killed in the crisis.
The governor expressed happiness over the return of peace among the five tribes of the Mambilla Plateau and called on the people to sustain the existing peace to attract more development to their area.
“I am not here to compensate the victims of the recent crisis that occurred here at Mambilla, government cannot do enough to compensate you on how much you lost, talk more of the number of human beings that were killed, I am here to support you so that you can start living and to also encourage you to leave in peace among yourselves.
“I am at peace now that I am here to witness that peace has returned to this area, let me sound this warning to those who find joy in speculating fake news on Facebook and other social media to cause crises among the people, that must stop and we have to desist from it if we want to keep a healthy society.”
The governor also called on the people of Sadauna local government, who are at the border area with Cameroon, to help and accommodate the Cameroonian refugees that are coming into Nigeria as a result of crises from their country.
“When our people were in crises here, I understand many of our sons and daughters ran to Cameroon to take refuge there and they were well treated over there, now that they are also in crises, it is our turn to reciprocate the good gesture.
The speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, Peter Abel Diah, who is an indigene of Mambilla Plateau, while commending the peace initiated by Governor Ishaku, called on the governor to establish a tertiary institution within the area for training of youths and creation of employment among the people of Mambila Plateau.
The speaker assured the governor that all the affected people in the 2017/2018 crises at Mambila Plateau have returned to their various homes and are leaving peacefully with one another.
Also, the chief of Mambilla, Alhaji Shehu Baju, said the creation of six new chiefdoms by Governor Ishaku had greatly helped in ensuring the quick return of peace.
Baju, who noted that Mambilla Plateau had become a model for peace, commended the state government for standing by the people during their trying moments.
Alhaji Kabiru Sagiri, one of the beneficiaries, who got a cheque of N850, 000, commended Ishaku for taking a step to alleviate the sufferings of the victims.
LEADERSHIP Friday reports that governor Ishaku had inaugurated an assessment committee in April 2018 to visit all the affected communities and produce a report.
The report submitted by the committee was what the state government used to compensate those affected by the crises and also bring all warring parties together to find lasting solutions to the hitherto protracted crisis on the Plateau.
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