Last weekend the Tarok community in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State were thrown into mourning following the attack on their community by military personal.
Our correspondent gathered that scores of persons were killed in the three Tarok villages of Kadarko, Kurmi and Wadata all in the LGA.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday gathered that soldiers in over 40 trucks arrived the villages following reports of alleged killing of four soldiers at Angwan Nanmi, Karin Lamido Local Government Area of Taraba State on April 28.
Information received from the communities has it that the soldiers arrived the communities on Saturday morning and were welcomed by the people and later spread out, rounded up the town and started shooting and killing unarmed people and burning houses.
According to a resident who witnessed the ugly development and did not want his name in print said, the soldiers arrived the area and opened fire on innocent people, and burnt their houses.
“It is not clear why soldiers would open fire on the people they are supposed to defend,” he said.
However, another source allegedly said that the attack was in retaliation of the killings of four soldiers, while other sources denied the allegation because two of the four soldiers killed were Taroks from the area.
Wase LGA has been crisis ridden for a long time as the Tarok and Fulanis in the LGA have been at each other’s throat for over a decade.
It could be recalled that about a decade ago, soldiers had massacred more than 100 civilians in several villages in Benue State, apparently carried out as revenge for the killing of 19 soldiers.
Meanwhile there have been conflicting reports on the number of persons killed, the traditional ruler of Kumbun area of Wase, Ponzhi Jessey Miri had alleged that over 400 persons from the communities were killed following the invasion of solders in three Tarok villages of Kadarko, Kurmi and Wadata.
Speaking to our correspondent on phone recently, the traditional ruler said, we are still in shock over what the military did to our people, as I speak to you, the corpses of our people killed still litter the communities, thousand of homes were burnt and some villagers were burnt in their homes including children and the aged.
Similarly, according to Comrade Jangle Lohbut, Chairman of a Tarok group, Ngwan Ishi Otarok, NIO Wase chapter, soldiers stormed some villages in Wase LGA of Plateau State noting that all the villages belong to Tarok and other tribes were razed down and many lives lost men, women and children.
He said, “Property worth millions of naira were lost, many people without shelter sleeping under trees and without food.”
Lohbut said villages attacked include Wadata Kasuwa (4 killed), Wadata Arewa (6 killed) including a pastor, Kadarko (22 killed) and Kurmi (2 killed) in Taraba State.
He added that there was looting by unknown people stressing that the army killed two policemen, one civil defence officer and one vigilante.
However, spokesman of the Special Task Force, Capt Ikedichi Iweha, while reacting to the allegation said there was no truth in the claim that its members attacked anyone.
According to him, following frequent attacks on communities around the Plateau/Taraba border by some militiamen, the STF and soldiers from the 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army had been carrying out operations targeted at flushing out the militia, and that soldiers who were working to protect innocent civilians could not turn around to kill the same civilians.
A survivor of the incidence who now resides in Langtang North who gave his name as Nanlir, described the incidence as sad and horrible.
According to him, “I was returning from my friends house when I heard shootings coming from our village, I had to start running, I ran and covered about 15 kilometers, I can’t tell if my family members are safe.
Nanfa, another survivor from the community called on the federal government to intervene and investigate this dastardly act.
A stakeholder form Wase who gave his name as Pintrim Bulus said the military went too far in killing innocent citizens.
According to him, the security forces have a duty to protect, not attack innocent citizens.
The murder of the four soldiers should be condemned but their deaths do not justify the slaughter of civilians by the military.
Following the ugly development, our correspondent gathered that over 3,000 persons are currently displaced and are taking refuge in Langtang North Local Government Area of the state.
Meanwhile the House of Representative committee chairman on human rights and member representing Langtang North/Langtang South federal constituency of Plateau State, Hon. Beni Lar, has condemn the attack on three Tarok communities by soldiers.
Lar in a statement issued in Jos lamented the wanton destruction of lives and property of the agrarian villagers. She also claimed that this was proof that there is a conspiracy against the Tarok nation.
The federal lawmaker pointed out that she will channel this inhuman act to the appropriate quarters, particularly, the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, ICC and National Human Rights Commission.
“This attack is a serious violation of human rights and an attack against humanity.”
She called on relevant government agencies to investigation the attack with a view to compensate victims and bring the soldiers involved to justice.
She added there were currently over 3,000 displaced people in Pajat who have come from various villages in Wase axis adding that she has been over stretched in terms of providing relief materials to the displaced people.
Similarly Secretary General of the Ngwan Ishi O Tarok, the umbrella body of the Tarok people of Plateau State, Nanlir Kartim Napbut has condemned the alleged killings of its citizens in Wase LGA by military personal.
The group also vowed to channel the inhuman act to United Nations, ICC; National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Army and the presidency.
He made this known in a press statement made available to newsmen in Jos. The statement reads in parts, “The plan to remove the Tarok man has reached its peak with the killings, maiming and the wanton destruction of houses and foodstuff at the weekend in Kadarko district of Wase LGA of Plateau State.”
“The Nigerian Army carried out these inhuman acts. The casualty rate is not to be known as at the moment but property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
“It is however, very unimaginable that the intelligence and compass bearings of the military led them to settlements (Kurmi, Wadata and Kadarko) of over 100 years as militia bases.
“We consider this very unfortunate and believe that the military has just conspired with some powers that be somewhere to ensure that the Tarok man is forced out of the land of their inheritance.
The statement further reads, “We appeal to National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and other non-governmental organisations, NGOs to come to the aid of the displaced persons to ameliorate their suffering.”
Meanwhile, the Plateau State governor Jonah Jang, has denied involvement in the killings that took place at Wase.
Jang in a statement signed by his Executive Assistant, Clinton Garuba said, “Our attention has been drawn to a press briefing by the Ngwang Ishi O Tarok, an umbrella body of the Tarok people in which they accused the Plateau State Governor, Dr. Jonah David Jang and the Nigerian Army for the killings that recently took place in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State.
“…It is widely known that neither the men of the STF nor the police take orders from the state governor, they are both controlled from Abuja by the Defence Headquarters and the Force Headquarters.
“So to insinuate that the Plateau State government has a hand in the matter is only a ploy to taint the image of the Governor and the State Government “.
“It must also be noted that time for partisanship is over and Government, which is now is a transition period is doing everything within its ability to have a smooth transition to the incoming administration and to try to drag the Government into this matter smacks more of a deliberate contraption to rubbish the government and paint in bad light before the court of public opinion.”
“If Government was out on a vendetta mission as claimed by the Chairman of the group, is it also killing the people that voted for its anointed candidate in the Barkin Ladi and Bachit axis in Riyom LGA as currently being experienced?
“The State Government recognises that those who lost loved one are in pain but must not allow such pain experienced at the moment to push them to the point of making unguarded utterances that will fan the embers of hatred and disunity among the people.”
Jang further said, “The State Emergency Management Agency has been mandated to bring relief to the affected communities as part of the little way Government can assuage the sufferings of the people so affected and will continue to whatever is within its powers to protect the lives of citizens until it bows out on May 29.”