Ninety-seven-year-old Head of Shillim village, Daffo District, Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, Baba Magit Mallo, has vowed not to abandon his ancestral land for the Fulani herdsmen.
Mallo said he won’t run away from the village for the Fulani, if the herders wanted to kill him, he was ready.
He said: “Why should I run away? If they want to kill me, let them kill me. But I won’t run away from this land where my father and my grandparents were born.”
The village head known in Hausa as “Mai Angwa” and his family are the only ones currently resident in Shillim village, where over 35 people, including children and women, were killed on March 8, 2018 when suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded the village and burnt down 48 houses, food items and places of worship.
When our correspondent visited Shillim and other villages, it was learnt that apart from Mallo, his wife and children, all other people have fled to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp at the Regional Church Council (RCC), Daffo, for refuge.
“What happened is that Fulani herdsmen attacked us on March 8, 2018 and burnt down the entire houses in the village, destroyed the houses, killed over 35 persons, including children and women. But God saved me. I spent three days in the bush before coming back. Since then, I have been staying here. My wife and children ran way for safety and left me here. She just came back a few days ago. I won’t run away; let them kill me in my ancestral land,” Mallo said.
He called on the President Muhammdu Buhari and Governor Simon Lalong to ensure the return of his people to their ancestral homes as was done in the case of Gashish in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state.
“We are peaceful people. My people want to come back and farm; we are farmers. We are pleading with government to help my people who are in Daffo to return to their homes. You can see all the houses in the village were burnt. I am just here by the Grace of God. Governor Simon Lalong should help our people before another raining season; we want to go back to farm,” the village head added.
When our correspondent visited the IDP camp located at the RCC, Daffo, people representing hundreds of households that were displaced, queued to present data to the officers of the Operation Save Heaven, also known as Special Task Force, saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace in Plateau State and other surrounding states. This was being done as part of efforts to return the IDPs to their ancestral homes.
The Special Tasks Force had earlier taken a bold step toward relocation of the Gashish IDPs to their ancestral homes.
The Secretary, RCC, Daffo, Rev Ishaku Joshua Mangai, said at the moment over 500 IDPs were being accommodated in the church.
He said: “When the attack occurred in March, 2018 about three local church councils were affected. Over 5,000 persons, including women, children and the old were displaced. But they are now scattered within Bokkos and Daffo to stay with some to their relatives. Others have got temporary homes to stay. Currently we have about 500 in the RCC. People and churches donate food items and toiletries for their use.”
Mangai commended the efforts of the Special Task Force for coming to the church to collect data for the planning of relocation of the IDPs to their communities.
He said government must provide enabling environment for all displaced communities to relocate.
Most of the children, according to him, are out of school due to the sacking of over seven villages.
Our correspondent also visited Ngakudung, Shillim, Murok among other villages that were all burnt down.
Locals called on government at levels to ensure the prompt rebuilding and return of the displaced persons to their ancestral homes.