The Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division, Nigerian Army, Jos, Benjamin Ahanotu, has called on politicians in Taraba to be neutral, fair and just over the current crisis on the Mambilla Plateau.
Mr. Ahanotu made the call when he addressed the Chairman of Sardauna Local Government, John Yep, in Gembu, Taraba State, on Saturday.
The violence on the Mambilla Plateau between Fulani and Mambilla tribes caused at least 18 deaths with many of them believed to be Fulani.
The violence has been condemned by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who has deployed more security officials there.
Fulani residents of the area had accused Mr. Yep of being one of the sponsors of the violence against them in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
On Saturday, Mr. Ahanotu said from the briefs he got from the Brigade Commander of 23 Brigade, Yola, Bello Mohammed, prominent politicians from the area played roles that escalated the situation.
Mr. Ahanotu, a brigadier general, said the carnage being perpetrated in the area would not have escalated if the politicians had acted justly in dealing with the situation.
He warned that soldiers deployed to the area should not be dragged into politics as they were only there to restore peace.
Earlier, Mr. Mohammed said officials of the local government were frustrating the efforts of the army to reach the hinterland where most of the havoc was being perpetrated.
He also said that in spite of the on-going crisis, no prominent politician had come over to the area to help in calming the situation.
“No member of the national or state assembly has come home despite the fact that they would have assisted in controlling their people,” Mr. Mohammed said.
While the army accuses the Taraba politicians of not doing enough to curb the violence, the state governor, Darius Ishaku, has denied sponsoring the killings of Fulanis.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Emmanuel Bello, Mr. Ishaku said the claims that he gave the order for the extermination of Fulani ethic group is untrue and those spreading the falsehood are uninformed.
Mr. Ishaku also condemned the “ongoing fracas between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Mambilla Plateau, Sardauna Local Government.”
According to him, bloodshed must be condemned wherever it happens, and not only when one group decided that they had been affected.
The spokesperson, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, demanded that critics accusing Mr. Ishaku of instigating genocide, should produce a memo, tape or video recording of how the directive was issued, adding that they were out for mischief.
He described the accusers as people displaying their inability to properly use the term, genocide.
“The accusers of Governor Ishaku are saying that he, at some point, actually gave orders by way of a broadcast or in some secret location that a certain ethnic group should be wiped out of Taraba,” the spokesperson said.
“They must have a tape recording of such instructions or directives. They probably have a memo by the governor where he clearly gave the plans for eliminations, stating timelines.
“They also probably know the armed militia he had planned with to carry out the dastardly act. Now, if they don’t have all of these, as I’m sure there is nothing like that, then, it is amazing how they could sit before journalists and tell a civilised world that a genocide has been planned against them.
“If they want to see genocides, ample examples are there but certainly not in our dear Taraba state. We don’t profile people in this very lovely state or plan the eliminations of same. Life is sacrosanct here.”
The governor wondered why the term genocide had not been used in other places where the country witnessed horrendous cases of crimes against humanity, his spokesperson said.
“In Taraba state, all human lives are precious to us. That is why Governor Ishaku keeps pushing for peace. That’s even his mantra: he says, ‘give me peace and I would give you development’; he is too refined, too peace loving to engage in any kind of bloodletting or encourage such. The governor is a very civilised man of the world who has interacted with various segments,” Mr. Bello said.