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How Fulanis butchered people in Dogo Na Hauwa
Perhaps they may have their individual gods or guardian angels watching over them but on that fateful Sunday, it was like the heavens were asleep when the evil men came, writes Isaac shobayo.
PLATAEU State in the past ten years had witnessed series of crises that had claimed many lives and property worth billions of naira, the recent Fulani invasion and attacked on three villages in Jos South Local Government Area of the state would not be forgotten easily in view of the high level of callousness exhibited by the marauders, who stormed the villages of Dogo Na Hauwa, Ratsat and Jeji in a commando-like operation and snuffed lives off the people, mostly children and women in a barbaric manner.
Affected villages in Foron District in Jos South Local Government Area of the state are predominantly Berom speaking with a population of about 16, 000 people and just five kilometres away from the state capital. They could be described as sleeping villages surrounded by hills with no basic amenities apart from electricity. Because of the green vegetation, the Fualnis nomads were lured into the area and some of them made the villages their places of abode but based on the information made available to Sunday Tribune, those resident in the villages before the crisis were not many as majority of them were migrants.
The way the three hours raiding and operation was carried out could be likened to that of Gestapo operation under the Nazi regime in Germany. Nobody could imagine that such level of mayhem could be unleashed on innocent children and women in the guise of reprisal attack. The three villages which are just a few kilometres drive to the state capital and also a few minutes drive to the residence of the State Governor, Jonah Jang, had never witnessed such gory incident since the Beroms settled there over one hundred years ago.
Despite constant crises between the Beroms and the Hausa-Fulani in the state, the affected villages had never experienced any reverberation effects of any upheaval in the villages. One of the survivors told Sunday Tribune that the few Fulani men living with the natives were often assured of their safety except the few ones who choose to move out of their volition without any threat to their lives.
Based on the prevailing peaceful neighbourliness in the villages, the people never expected an attack from anywhere until they were caught pant down by the Fulani herdsmen who swooped on the villages under the cover of darkness to unleash mayhem and exhibited what could be described as high level of barbarism on Sunday, March 7, 2010 in the middle of the night.
Taking advantage of the rocky areas, the Fulanis who have full knowledge of the topography, were said to have sneaked into the villages and hide in the hills at about 11p.m. before they launched the attack at about 2:30a.m. It was gathered that the people, who had no premonition of the attack, had gone to sleep when the Fulanis invaded in dross and carried out what could be described as systematic and organised extermination of the villagers.
Explaining the nature of the attack to Sunday Tribune, the district head of the area, Engr. Bulus Pam Bot, Gwam Rei Foron, said none of the people in the affected villages had an inkling of the attack considering the peaceful co-existence that had existed between the natives, adding that from the way the attack was carried out, the Fulanis were aided by insiders familiar with the terrain.
The district head said having positioned themselves in various strategic parts of the village and mounted sentries at all the entry points, some of them entered and releases volley of gunshots into the air while some set houses ablaze to smoke them out of their houses to be ambushed by the waiting Fulani men.
He said since it was in the night, many were caught unaware, adding that all those who ran out with the aim of escaping including the children were hacked down and ratcheted to death while some, who were afraid of coming out of their houses, were burnt to death.
When Sunday Tribune got to the village on Sunday, no fewer than forty-five children were butchered and line up at the village square in Dogo Na Hauwa Village while bodies of both children and adult yet to be picked littered every nooks and crannies of the affected villages. The youths from other neighbouring villages who came from other villages on hearing of the unfortunate incident had a hectic time going about picking corpses, most of the corpses were found in the bush within the vicinity.
Some of the leaders in the affected villages who spoke with Sunday Tribune said in spite of repeated calls on that particular night to the law enforcement agents the security men did not show up throughout the three hours the marauders raided the villages saying only handful of them were seen at about 7: 00 a.m in the morning when the Fulanis had disappeared into the thin air.
In a press release, signed by Police Public Relation Officer, ASP Mohammed Lerama, said on the spot interview conducted showed that the survivors of the invasion categorically stated that they were attacked by their Fuani neighbours with whom they had been living with for decades.
To further substantiate this, the police said the killings and burning of houses were selective which was a clear indication that the attackers were from within, adding that all appeals and entireties made to the Fulanis before now for peace talk were turned down.
The Police said from evidence so far gathered, the attack was a reprisal and fall out of the incidence of January, 2010 where some Fulanis were killed together with their cattles as Vom, Tim Tim, Kuru Jenta, Barakin Ladi and other villages.
Since the unfortunate incident occurred, the affected villages have become desolate because of the number of people killed.
The number of casuality recorded in the attack has been a subject of controversy between the police on one hand and the survivors of the attack and state government on the other hand. While the police claimed that only 109 people died, the latter declared five hundred.
A community leader in Dogo Nahauwa, Mr. Monday Dalyop who spoke with Sunday Tribune expressed shocked over the figure declared by the police saying they were never on ground when the unfortunate incident broke out and not involved in the search and recovery of bodies from the bushes and wondered how they could be categorical on the number of casuality recorded. He added that the casualty of children and women recorded were within the range of 150 to 200 and wondered how the police, who later came, could be categorical about the figure of death recorded.
While the government and the people claimed more than one mass burial ground, the police claimed just one mass grave site, saying that a pathologist appointed by Plateau State Commissioner for Health, State Commissioner of Information and Communication, Chairman Jos South local government council, the police medical doctor and a team of detectives from state CID Jos witnessed the burial at the only mass grave site at Dogo Nahauwa village.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, said those buried at the mass grave site were seventy in number comprising 12 male children, 26 female children, 16 female adults and 16 male adults. He further added that those buried privately by relation at Barakin-Ladi were 18, Dogo Nahauwa 12 and those that died in the cause of treatment at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) were nine.
Though the state commissioner of Police claimed that other figures given were fabricated the people of the affected communities, accused the police of been too economical with the truth.
As a result of the attack and what people called unforgiving spirit of the Fulanis, the people of the villages are now living in perpetual fear of further attack. When Sunday Tribune asked the survivors of the attack if they would relocate to another place, the district head said there was no way they would abandon their lands, saying that what the government should do was to provide security for them. However, a cross section of youths told Sunday Tribune that they were relocating to anywhere but added that they would never be caught unaware again as they have learnt their lesson.
Those living in urban centres such as Jos are also catching the cold. Since the brutal killings, commercial activities were yet to pick up in the state capital. Some banks seldom open for operations while others render skeletal services or attend to customers through the back door while parents prefer having their wards at home because of the fear of attack.
Genesis of the crises: 1994 - 2010
IN the past sixteen years, Plateau State had witnessed series of upheavals that had claimed so many lives and property worth billions of naira. Many business establishments had folded up and this had changed the sobriquet of the state from the Home of Peace and Tourism to another horrible label due to the incessant entho-religious crisis couple with Fulani and the native hostilities in some parts of the state over the years.
The crises on the Plateau is spiral in nature and seems endless in view of its frequent occurrence. The pattern of the upheavals are the same and revolves around indigene and settlers dichotomy.
1994 crisis: On Tuesday, 12th April, 1994, there was a crisis in Jos North Local Government Area of the state,which shattered the peace of the state capital as lives were lost and properties destroyed. Based on the findings of the commission of inquiry that looked into the crisis, it was a crisis between the Beroms, Anagutas and Afizeres considered as the natives on one hand , and the Hausa-Fulani tribes on the on the other hand over the ownership of Jos North local government. While the former claimed they are undisputable indigenous people of Jos, the Hausa-Fulani are stettlers who migrated to Jos.
Though various reasons were adduced to be the cause of 1994 crisis, what could be considered as the immediate cause stemmed from the appointment of one Alhaji Aminu Mato as the chairman of the Caretaker Management Committee of Jos North Local Government Area. The appointment of Alhaji Mato, who was of the Hausa-Fulani extraction, was rejected by the natives. Attempts to resist the appointment sparked off a huge conflagration that consumed the state capital for 24 hours leading to the death of many people and destruction of properties.
2001crisis: The state seemed to have enjoyed a bit of respite until September 7, 2001 when a major ethno-religious crisis rocked the state from its foundation. The cause of the crisis was similar to that of 1994 but religion was used as cover to justify the reason for the crisis between the natives and the settlers.
The crisis was said to have been caused by an attempt by a lady to cross to the side of the road where some group of Muslims were observing Jumat prayers. The refusal of the Muslim Congregation to allow her pass was said to have sparked off the crisis. For the first time, religion crept into the agenda and from September 7 to 17 2001, the state capital was turned upside down and made unbearable for the inhabitants as both the natives and the Hausa-Fulani engaged one another in a bloody clash. Many people lost their lives while property worth billions of naira were destroyed.
Between 2002 and 2004, the battle shifted to the southern part of the state, namely Langtang North, Langang South, Wase, Shendam and Qua, Pan Local Government Areas of the state. In these areas, it was largely between the natives and the Fulanis. The Langtang, otherwise called the Tarok, engaged the Fualnis in a battle, which lasted for close to one year over land gracing among others.
But the most devastated of all was Yelwa crisis in Shendam Local Government Area of the state which claimed hundreds of lives and led to the declaration of a state of emergency by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
2008: The cause of the 2008 crisis was similar to that of the 1994. While the latter was caused by the appointment of a caretaker committee chairman for Jos North Local Government that of 2008 was sparked off by election into the same council. For fear of crisis, previous administrations in the state did not conduct council polls in the troubled Jos North until 2008.
The crisis that ensued over the local government poll claimed many lives while properties were destroyed in the senseless orgy of violence that lasted three days. No matter the reason adduced for the crisis, it was caused by the age-long tussle over the control of Jos between the natives and the Hausa-Fulani in the council. From all indications, the poll was simple used as an excuse.
2010: While the dust over 2008 crisis was about settling down, another crisis erupted on Sunday, January 17, 2010. It was said to have caused by a man trying to renovate his house burnt down during the 2008 crisis. Though there were different versions of the cause of the crisis the three day upheaval which led to the declaration of 24-hours curfew would not be forgotten easily as a result of the colossal lost of lives and property recorded. For the first time in the history of crisis in the state, military men took over the security of the state which some people termed indirect emergency rule.
As the state was trying to put the ugly incidence of 2010 behind it, the people of the state were confronted with what people have described as man’s inhumanity to man due to the barbaric act exhibited by some Fulani herdsmen who stormed three villages in Jos South Local Government and snuffed lives out of the villagers who were mostly children and women while on reprisal mission.
The Fulanis who claimed to be on a revenge mission attacked the village of Dogo Nahauwa, Rasat and Zot in Foron district some few meters to the residence of Governor Jonah Jang. They ambushed the inhabitants in the night and hacked many to death like a hunter on a prey. The level of callousness displayed showed that the poeple who carried out the attack were merciless as no fewer than 46 children between the ages of three to ten were brutally macheted.
As their remains were line up in the village square on Sunday, they were seen with various degree of deep cut all over their bodies. The attack lasted for just few hours but the number of casualty recorded was colossal.
It is now back to square one for both the Plateau State Government and the Federal Government who had been making efforts to stem the tide of violence in the state. The state Government recently released White Papers on the 1994 and 2001 Jos crises while Prince Bola Ajibola Commission of Inquiry into the 2008 crisis submitted its report last year. The question is when will peace return to Plateau state?Share