- This is genocide – Miyetti Allah
- DHQ says not aware of raid
Hir Joseph, Lafia & Ronald Mutum
Apr. 4, 2014
Truck-loads of soldiers conducted a morning raid on settlements of Fulani herders in Nasarawa State yesterday, killing at least 32 people.
The operation, which happened at about 8.30am in the outskirts of Keana, was said to be carried out by troops who came in 10 trucks and four armoured-personnel carriers.
Five of the people killed in the operation were elderly men at a settlement called Rugan Abubakar Sodangi, along Keana-Giza road.
Daily Trust learnt that the soldiers arrived in Keana in the morning and patrolled the town for about two hours before proceeding to Rugan Ardo Abubakar Sodangi.
They raided that and neighbouring Fulani settlements, killing many people, witnesses told Daily Trust.
“Minutes later, we started hearing gunshots. The gunshots were sustained for minutes. Then we saw the soldiers drive back into Keana,” a resident of Keana told Daily Trust.
A witness, Ibrahim Jalo, said about 24 corpses were evacuated from the Fulani settlements on the road to Giza town.
“I was on my way to the office when I saw people running and later saw soldiers rushing into the town in convoy asking for the Fulani. I saw over 24 dead bodies of Fulani being taken to Lafia in a white Hilux van,” he said, quoted by Premium Times.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) decried the military raid, saying it amounted to genocide against the Fulani.
Mohammed Hussein, state secretary of the association, told Daily Trust that the leadership of Fulani in the state resolved to sue the Federal Government over the military operation, which he called “genocide on Fulani in Nasarawa.”
He said, “They stormed the Fulani camps and opened fire on the men. They held the women, four of whom they broke their hands. We have resolved to sue the Federal Government over this genocide on our people.”
Hussein earlier told Premium Times: “I’m presently in the mortuary receiving corpses. They killed over 30 of our men for no reason.”
Daily Trust reports that the mortuary at the Dalhatu Araf Specialists Hospital in Lafia appeared to have been filled up, as many dead bodies from the incident were left outside.
Twelve bodies were brought there in police vans, between 12 and 3pm, while 20 other bodies were deposited at the General Hospital in Keana sometime after 5pm.
When contacted yesterday on the deadly raid by soldiers in Nasarawa State, Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, said in a text message to our reporter: “No such reports have been lodged anywhere. It will be investigated to confirm if those you said carried out the attack are soldiers indeed.”
He added: “This is certainly not the purpose of the operation there. You have to be sure that the incidence is not one of the atrocities of armed gangs. This is being investigated please.”
The military operation came a day after Tiv communities and Fulani nomads, who have had prolonged hostilities at the Nasarawa/Benue border, signed a peace agreement in Lafia.
It also happened just as the newly-elected Keana LGA chairman, Haruna Osegba, scheduled series of meetings with Tiv and Fulani leaders to find solutions to the incessant crisis that has caused many deaths and displacement of thousands.
Mr. Osegba yesterday confirmed the presence of the soldiers in large numbers, and also confirmed that Rugan Abubakar Sodangi and neighbouring settlements of nomads were hit.
But he said his council had no more information to give, saying the soldiers never reported to the council or the palace of the paramount ruler of Keana.
“They entered town, but did not report to the council. I don’t know their mission. The palace also has no information about their coming,” Osegba said.
He said information available to the council showed that nine bodies were taken to Lafia, while two others were still on their way.
Later last night, Osegba told Daily Trust that a total of 15 corpses had been buried according to Islamic rites.
State police spokesman, ASP Umaru Ismaila, said “it is a military operation”, and that the state police command was not well-informed about the operation to make informed comments.
State Information Commissioner Hamza Elayo told Daily Trust the operation was conducted by a Presidential task force which went to Keana for a “strictly military operation.”
He said the state government was yet to get any official information from the Federal Government on the operation.
“For now, we as a state government cannot say much on the presence of the military in the state. But we know of their presence. We have no information about their operations in the state,” Elayo said.
It was not clear why the military operation was embarked upon, but Daily Trust reports that this came following years of violent clashes between Tiv and Fulani people along the border with Benue State.
Disputes over farmland and grazing land have led to violent conflicts between the two ancestral playmates, leading to deaths and destructions of property.