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Nasarawa: Taming menace of communal insurgencies
The Alago and Eggon people have been driven away from their homes into exile at Dunama Primary School, Lafia, Nasarawa State, following the ethnic crisis that engulfed the area. Umar Muhammed, who visited the scene of the crisis, reports.
THE crisis which began in the early hours of Friday, 2 June,2012, in which about 10 persons were reported killed, made the state governor, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the warring villagers. It was a war they never negotiated for, but it came like a thief in the night and rocked their peace, safety and properties.
For instance, the popular Assakio peace market where traders from the North, South-West, South-East and South-South engage in economic activities is now a no-go area as a result of the ethnic violence that engulfed it.
Gamji recalled that the crisis had started about three weeks earlier like a child’s play, before it degenerated into an avalanche of killings and destruction, leading to total breakdown of law and order in the area.
Checks by our correspondent, who visited the scene of the crisis, revealed that the town of Assakio, the commercials nerve centre that serves the southern part of the state, was reduced to rubble.
Though the statement by the Eggons might sound convincing, the Alagos, however, disputed it, saying that the area in question was historically owned by them (Alagos), hence Alago established the traditional stool and have been on that throne for the 13th consecutive time since inception.
Some Assakios, who were said to have braved the odds to return home, told our correspondent that they had been faced with the challenges of recovering corpses either from the collapsed walls of buildings or in the surrounding bushes since their return. They lamented that many people had deserted the town to places out of Nasarawa State, without hope of returning home.
It is alleged that the Eggons were on a revenge mission based on the attack carried on then by the Alagos in 2007. The Alagos, according to reports, were said to have attacked the Eggons of Assakio over their (Eggon) support for Solomon Ewuga, who was vying for the governorship position of the state in the 2007 against the immediate past governor, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma. Ewuga came from the Eggon extraction while Doma is of the Alago ethnicity.
The latest crisis is coming on the heels of the involvement of Governor Al–Makura managing a prolonged crisis between the peasant farmers and Fulani herdsmen in the southern senatorial zone of the state, a crisis which had claimed hundreds of lives. Al – Makura and his Benue state counterpart, Gabriel Suswan, have since received a report on the crisis and are studying it.
The Nasarawa State Police Command, with the help of the military and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) deployed to the area to maintain law and order, had paraded over 18 persons believed to have links with the bloody ethnic crisis. The spokesperson of the command, Mr Cornelius Ocholi, confirmed the arrest to the Gamji but could not give the actual number of victims.He stated that normalcy had since returned in the area, saying that heavy security, both by the police and the military, had been stationed there in order to avert any further attack.
Further findings by Gamji also indicated that the Eggons in the area were forced to pay taxes to the local ruler, who is an Alago, with an allegation that the Alago community within the area were taking unnecessary advantage of them.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abayomi Akeremale, in an exclusive interview with Gamji, explained that the Security Council had adopted measures to curb the crisis in the trouble area.
According to him, well armed military and mobile policemen had been deployed to all flash points and strategic locations as well as roads leading to Assakio to avert any possible fresh attack on the entire people of the community.
Speaking on the crisis, Governor Al-Makura said “We have put security men on the road now to stop and search so that people will not externalise the crisis, and also to control the movement of people coming in from other places.’’
“It is for this reason that, pursuant to my constitutional obligations and relevant extant provisions of law, government has constituted a high-powered commission of enquiring to investigate the Assakio ethnic clash,” the Governor said.
Inaugurating the commission, Al-Makura said: “Today’s event is a testimony of the determination of this administration to create an environment where sustainable peace and tranquillity will prevail as basic requirement for socio-economic growth and development.”
The commission has one mouth to submit its report to Government for immediate action. Be that as it may, the Nasarawa State government needs to wake up to its primary duty to provide welfare and security to its people to stop the state from gradually slipping into anarchy where every community will have to engage in self-help.Share