On 30 January, at least two persons were killed in a bloody fight between Fulani herdsmen and members of Ohoro community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The two victims were said to have died of machete wounds.
There were reports that two other members of the community were shot dead by soldiers deployed in the area to restore peace; but the Media Coordinator of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Lt Col Timothy Antigha said: “There was no such thing”.
Local sources said trouble started when the herdsmen’s cows strayed into farmlands belonging to the community, and damaged crops. Angered by the trespass and damage, the farmers confronted the nomads. One source said the nomads suddenly attacked two of the farmers with daggers, killing them on the spot.
As news of the incident spread, youths in the community mobilized and went after the killers, in a bid to avenge the killing of their kinsmen; but they were unable to find the fleeing nomads. The youth then turned their anger against all Hausa-Fulani in the community, and sent many of them fleeing the area.
The near breakdown of law and order caused a major traffic gridlock along the Delta-Bayelsa stretch of the East-West Road. Reports of the incident also raised tensions as far as the state capital, Asaba, and other towns with Fulani residents.
This incident, coming at a time when many southerners are already fleeing deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the predominantly Hausa-Fulani far north of the country, could aggravate ethnic and religious relations in the Niger Delta.
However, the JTF said it had taken measures to restore peace in the Ohoro community and other towns in the area. Col Antigha said: “JTF is at the scene. Efforts are being made to calm down nerves with a view to commencing investigations”.
On 13 August, a 50-year-old man was attacked and killed by unknown persons, at his residence in Jol village of Riyom Local Government Area of the state.
The District Head of Jol, Danladi Taje, who confirmed the incident, gave the name of the victim as Monday Bahajo, and said he was hacked to death. He said that since April, people in the area had suffered series of attacks and secret killings by attackers suspected to be Fulani herdesmen. He lamented that: “We have been reporting the cases to the security agencies, but they have not been able to trace those behind the silent killers”.
On 14 August, at least three other people were reported killed, following the murder of a commercial motorcycle rider, identified as Kamilu Yahaya.
Local sources said Yahaya was apparently tricked into the Angwan Rukuba area of the metropolis, dispossesed of his motorcycle and then stabbed to death. The police later recovered his corpse from a stream and arrested three suspects; but youths in the Nasarawa Gwom area of the metropolis (where Yahaya lived), already angered by the incident, took to the streets attacking passers-by, many of whom were on their way to church. Eye witnesses report that they saw at least three persons hacked down by the rampaging youth. A source reported sighting a corpse elsewhere in the city, but no one could say if the last case was in connection with the Yahaya incident.
The rapid intervention of security personnel saved the situation from degenerating further, but the city’s streets were largely deserted for most of the day, and the entire environment was all tense.
There was no official statement from either the police or the military Special Task Force, but security men were drafted to strategic locations all over the city, in an effort to prevent further violence.
On 29 March, over 20 gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen stormed the Federal College of Land Resources, Vom, Plateau State, killed two people and wounded five others. The two men killed were security personnel in the employment of the college.
The attack is the second on the school within two months. A 10 February attack on the staff quarters of the school left five people dead including the Chief Security Officer, Mr. Danjuma Haruna, the chief accountant, his wife and daughter.
Following that earlier attack, policemen were sent to secure the school. But in the latest attack, the gunmen reportedly shot their way into the school, overwhelming the four policemen on guard.
Local sources say the attackers went round the large compound of the school in a very deliberate manner, as though they were looking for a particular target, before they eventually left after about 30 minutes. It is suspected that they may have been looking for the son of the late chief security officer, Gideon, who had earlier raised an alarm that those who killed his father were still after his own life. He was not at home when the attackers came.
Confirming the incident to newsmen, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Abdulrahman Akano, said the attackers were yet to be apprehended as they fled the scene immediately after their criminal act. But he said his men were on their trail as full investigations had commenced. He said the two security men killed by the attackers and others injured were taken to the Vom Christian Hospital. He appealed to the people to remain calm.
On 12 March, the Nigeria Police Force refuted the claims made by the military Special Task Force (STF) the previous day, over the seizure of a truck that was carrying bomb-making materials from Kaduna to Jos.
While the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha had briefed newsmen that the movement of the materials was suspicious on several counts and therefore under investigation, the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Anti-Bomb Squad, Mr. Ambrose Aisabor, has said the movement of the materials was in order, as it was duly authorized by the anti-bomb squad.
Aisabor said the company that owned the consignment was duly licensed by the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development to deal in explosives for commercial purposes. He said the materials were being moved from the company’s warehouse in Kaduna to the one in Jos.
He further explained that the movement of the materials from one state to another was legal and that all the documents which the driver presented to the STF men were genuine.
Aisabor said the law allows only men of the Anti-Bomb Squad (Explosives Ordinance Depot) to escort such consignment to its final destination. Accordingly, he said, the constable who was escorting the truck at the time it was seized was properly authorized to do so, and the policeman had his identity card on him at the time the soldiers seized the truck and arrested him. He said the fact that the constable was not wearing his uniform at the time, could be dealt with departmentally.
He added that when the truck was impounded, just 200 metres to its destination at Mister Ali village, one of his officers intervened to give the STF a clear account of the movement, but that he was rebuffed by the soldiers. He said: “I was made to understand that one of my officers asked the driver to give the phone to the soldiers who intercepted the truck to speak to them, but they refused”.
Aisabor said STF was being mischievous by going public with its claims, even when one of his officers had intervened to tell them the true position. He therefore dismissed the STF’s earlier report as “cheap propaganda”, adding that “they (the STF) have only succeeded in deceiving themselves”.
Alhaji Bashir Ahmed, manager of Duwam Company Limited, the owners of the consignment, also corroborated the police account. Speaking on telephone from his Kaduna base, he told journalists that the company had been in legitimate business for many years, and that the materials the STF seized were being moved from the company’s warehouse in Kaduna to Jos.
Jos, the Plateau State capital, has in recent times, witnessed recurrent waves of violence, bombing incidents and nocturnal attacks on predominantly Christian villages by suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Particularly since January 2010, hundreds have been killed, while property worth millions of naira has been destroyed.
The STF’s report of the seizure had raised hopes that perhaps the security forces were on the verge of unmasking some of the allegedly highly-placed sponsors of the violence. The bickering and confusion between the STF and the Police has not only dampened that hope, but also raises serious concerns about inter-agency coordination and cooperation in the management of internal security.
As Aisabor himself said: “This is what we mean when we say that there is no co-operation and synergy between the security agencies”.
On 22 February, suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked and killed 18 people in Belle Village, near Dorowan Tshoho in Fan District of Barkin Ladi Local Council of Plateau State.
The chairman of the Barakin-Ladi Local Government Council, Honourable Pam Dakwat, told newsmen that the assailants who came in large numbers, stormed the village from nearby hills and attacked the people while they were in bed at about 1.00 am. He said the marauders came with various weapons including guns, cutlasses, bows and arrows, killing and wounding their victims at random.
Dakwat, who said 14 people died on the spot, added that four others died on their way to hospital. Among those killed was a driver, his wife and their four children. He said the number of casualties would have been higher but for the community youth who quickly mobilised to resist the assailants.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the State, Apev Jacob, also confirmed that 18 people were killed, seven people were injured, one house burnt and 19 cows rustled as a result of the attack. The command added that security operatives moved to the scene once they were informed of the incident.
The statement read in part: “The Plateau State Police Command wishes to announce that today, 22-02-2011, about 0130hrs (1.30 a.m.), armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked Belle Village near Dorowan Tsoho, Fan District, Barkin-Ladi Local Council Area. Eighteen people, including the suspected leader of the invaders, one Musa Haruna, were killed, 7 injured, a house burnt and 19 cows rustled.
“On receipt of the information, security operatives moved to the scene. However, the attackers had fled before the security personnel arrived. Therefore, the victims were taken to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention. The fleeing attackers are being hunted for, with a view to arresting and bringing them to book. No arrest has so far been made”.
The military Special Task Force (STF) spokesman, Capt. Charles Ekeocha, who also confirmed the incident, said more troops had been deployed to beef up security in the area and track down the assailants.