It was a week of tears and agony for residents of Tudiri and Janibanibu communities in Ardo Kola local government area of Taraba State after suspected herdsmen unleashed terror on them.
The attacks, which claimed about10 lives in two days, came when many thought peace was gradually returning.“About one month ago, Sunday Vanguard had reported attacks by suspected herdsmen on11Taraba villages of Murkunu, Murtia, Yaukani, Murbai, Yawai, Somporo, Jekunuhou, Sembe, Ndayaro, Kaudad and Keshabro in Jalingo and Ardo-Kola LGAs, where about 8,494 people were displaced.
The first of the latest attacks, launched on Sunday, sparked outrage in Jalingo and almost led into another crisis in the state capital.“Sounds of heavy gunshots could be heard and thick smokes from burnt houses could be seen in most parts of the city centre, which is less than one kilometre from the invaded village, Tudiri. \This caused panic in the ever busy ATC, Nukkai and Kasuwan Bera axis of Jalingo as residents scampered for safety while most businesses were forced to shut down.
Tension rose when residents who had fled Tudiri, mostly women and children, on Sunday evening, started trooping into Nukkai, ATC among other parts of the metropolis on foot crying for help. Confusion enveloped the town, especially the Taraba State University area of ATC and environs.“Some students, who just returned to their hostels after lecturers of the institution earlier in the week shelved their strike action, left the hostels for fear of the unknown. “Kona youths, who were protesting about what they described as the poor response of security operatives to the attack, mounted roadblocks to express their grievances around Nukkai, ATC axis Sunday night. “But for the intervention of security operatives, the protest could have led to more violence. On Sighting Flames I Fled – Victim
A victim of the attack, who simply gave her name as Esther, said, “I was at home around 5pm with my daughter when my daughter called my attention to the thick smoke from a distance. “As soon as I stepped out, I saw people running. At this time, we had begun to hear sounds of gunshots. That was how I ran with my daughter to town so as not to die. Another eyewitness, who declined to give his name, said numerous houses were razed when the suspected herdsmen stormed the village. “He explained that the marauders invaded Tudiri on motorcycles and shot sporadically.
We were disturbed and when one of us reached out to someone that was in the village, the person said the marauders came with a lot of guns and were shooting and burning houses. Before 30 minutes, we saw multitudes running into town mostly women and children. The villager said that most of those fleeing their homes were peasant farmers whose livelihood was being threatened by recurrent attacks on their villages. Taraba State Police Command confirmed that the marauders operated on motorcycles heavily armed and sacked Tudiri village.
Spokesman for the command, DSP David Misal, called the marauders bandits and expressed the police displeasure with the confusion aggrieved youths caused in the metropolis while expressing their anger. “ Speaking with Vanguard, Misal said, “At about 1800hrs, heavily armed bandits operating on motorcycles invaded Tudiri Village via Jauro Yinu ward, Ardo Kola LGA and set houses ablaze. The command immediately mobilized patrol teams to the area but before their arrival the hoodlums had fled to the bush. It is unfortunate that some youths, being apprehensive of the development, blocked Nukkai, Kasuwan Bera, ATC highway Jalingo and set disuse tyres on fire. Consequently, three vehicles, two motorcycles and three tricycles were burnt, but with the timely intervention of security operatives, the situation was brought under control”.
He, however, claimed that no life was lost in Sunday’s attack but an eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity said one person died. Black Monday Less than 24 hours after the sacking of Tudiri village, marauders, on Monday evening, stormed Janibanibu village, shooting sporadically. “Seven persons were reportedly killed in the attack that led to the imposition of dusk to dawn curfew by Taraba State government to douse tension. While the assault was going on in Janibanibu, the streets of Jalingo were flooded with fleeing victims even as men of the Nigeria Army and those of other security agencies moved to battle the attackers. “A cleric, Rev Cyriacus Kamai, who visited Janibanibu on Tuesday, said six bodies were recovered while several buildings were set ablaze.
“The police, on their part, claimed five people were killed during the Monday night attack. Troops of 20 Model Battalion, Serti and other security agencies deployed to the troubled spot engaged the attackers in a gun duel. “Commanding Officer of the batallion, Lt. Col. Mohammed Adamu, said 21 suspects were arrested with sophisticated weapons and ammunitions in connection with attack. There was an attack by some herdsmen around Nukkai and a swift response by security agencies repelled the attack”, Adamu said.“”We recorded a huge success because some of the herdsmen fell to the superior fire power of our troops and their corpses have been handed over to the police.
“During the course of our operation, we intercepted 21 suspects with dangerous weapons and, when we are through with our investigations, they will be handed over to the police.”“ Scantily clad women Just as normal business activities resumed Tuesday morning, hundreds of Kona women took to the streets to draw attention to the continuous killings of their husbands and children.
While some of the women were scantily clad, others wore black attires to mourn slain victims.“The protest, which lasted hours, started from Kona Garu down to ATC area of Jalingo.“They decried the encroachment of their ancestral homes by armed marauders whom they said not only sacked their villages but also killed their beloved ones. “The women also demanded the release of their children who they claimed were arrested by security operatives indiscriminately when they were supposed to be protecting them from their attackers.