The Judicial Commission of Enquiry probing the killing of over 50 security personnel at Lakyo village in Nasarawa State was yesterday told how “Fulani mercenaries” allegedly invaded and killed 22 people in Eggon communities of Barkin Abdullahi District (BAD) in Lafia Local Government Area.
The Eggon communities of BAD and its environs also accused the Fulani of burning 150 properties, comprising of 139 houses, 10 shops and a hospital in a memorandum they submitted to the panel, which was signed by Usman Idrisu and Sidi Akpanvan as representatives.
The panel’s Secretary, Abubakar Sadiq Ishaq, read the memorandum yesterday following the absence of the communities and their legal representative.
They listed the villages under BAD as Akuya, Takpa, Sabo Gbakom, Sabo Gida, Aridi Kuje, Gada, Angwan Asilika, Arikpa Awonge and Awunza, although some other Eggon communities had withdrawn from the proceedings of the commission.
The communities said the villages are mainly populated by the Eggon people except for a few towns under BAD where there are other tribes, such as Rindre, Mada, Hausa, Fulani, Alago and Igbo.
The petitioners said they are predominantly farmers, adding that there were few cases of conflicts between them and the Fulani herdsmen “who more often than not would allow their cattle graze on the food crops of the local farmers”.
They said: “In fact, aside the usual misunderstanding experienced by the people of BAD from minor political differences, there had never been any report of crisis in BAD until the recent onslaught which engulfed BAD and its environs and left it in ruins.
“Before February 7, 2013, there were rumours that the BAD community and its environs might be attacked, because of earlier attacks on some other villages close to BAD, such as Burum-Burum and Yelwa Bassa in Kokona Local Government Area.
“Some of our brothers and sisters, who had escaped attacks and fled from Burum-Burum, Alago, Damba, Ruman Doma and Iggah to BAD for safety, had said some strange mercenaries had invaded their villages.
“Meanwhile, rumours continued to spread in BAD until about 2pm on February 17, when the merciless mercenaries advanced their onslaught to towns under BAD en route the western part.
“It is believed that the mercenaries extended their indiscriminate attacks on BAD after systematically destroying other villages close to BAD, including Burum-Burum, Alago and Sabo Gbakom.
“People screaming for safety and shouting on top of their voices signified not only the likelihood of danger but also an obvious situation of war such that would clearly not warrant even the bravest in the community to ask questions before taking to his heels.
“Amid the confusion, people were seen briskly fleeing and running to the northern part of BAD. Some mercenaries were seen invading the western side of BAD while its inhabitants fled for dear lives.
“The people stood afar and saw the mercenaries destroying BAD by burning down houses and sporadically shooting any person at sight.
“The evil onslaught carried out by the mercenaries lasted about four hours. A lot of property was destroyed: houses were burnt to ashes and many people were killed.”
Of the 22 people who were killed in the attacks, 15 were from towns under BAD. Sixty-one houses, 10 shops and a hospital were also burnt in the town.
Aside towns under BAD, the communities also alleged that the invaders attacked its other villages, like Sabo Abakom, Aku Kpadom, Onyu, Akuya and Awunza.
“In Sabo Gbakom, the mercenaries attacked around 4pm on February 7, 2013. The mercenaries entered the village, unsuspected, through the road to Burum-Burum Lewi in Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area.
“The village is occupied predominantly by Eggon people, whose property were destroyed as the villagers ran for safety.
“At the time of the attack, there was no presence of security agents. Up till the time of writing this memorandum, the Nasarawa State Government had not visited the area to either sympathise with the victims or assess the level of damage caused,” the communities said.
Thirty-five houses were burnt during the attack on Sabo Gbakom. Several foodstuffs were destroyed.
While two people were killed and 17 houses burnt in Aku Kpadam village, two houses were destroyed in Onyu, beisdes several foodstuffs that were destroyed.
Three persons were allegedly killed in Akuya village and 14 houses burnt; Awunza village lost eight houses and foodstuffs.
Despite the destruction and loss of lives and property on February 17, the communities said the state government did not take “proactive measures” to protect the lives and property of the people of BAD.
They said Governor Tanko al-Makura later visited the area and promised to tighten security, supply materials and send a team of estate valuers to assess the level of destruction.
“However, up till the time of writing this memorandum, none of the things promised by the governor was fulfilled,” the communities said.
They regretted that 28 suspected mercenaries, who were arrested in possession of live ammunitions by the police following the attacks, were released.
They added: “The 28 Fulani mercenaries arrested were believed to be among other attackers who invaded parts of Doma, Lafia, Kokona, and Nasarawa-Eggon.