Unearthing reason behind helicopter’s frequent visits to Taraba crises areas

By Valentine Amanze
and Janet Nyajon Audu

Nigeria no doubt is being confronted by so many security challenges despite the coronvirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Of recent the nation’s army disclosed a resounding success against jihadists, bandits and other dangerous criminals in many parts of Nigeria.
It disclosed that no fewer than 188 members of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terror groups and 411 bandits had been killed by troops in the last one month.
In a statement by the Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, 236 victims, including women and children were rescued from the terrorists’ dens within the time under review.
While Nigerians are commending the efforts of the troops, they are also asking questions on the new dimension of crime cum insecurity in Taraba State.
For instance, the National President of Ichen Cultural and Development Association (ICADA), Dr. Samuel Ahmed Bibinu, recently expressed worry over the visit of helicopter to Ananum in Donga Local Government Area in Taraba State.
Recalled that late April and early May 2020 crisis broke out between Tiv and Ichen over land which claimed over 40 lives in Donga Local Government Area in Mararaba.
Mararaba is where the Senator representing Southern Senatorial Zone, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, comes from.
At a press conference in Mararaba, the president of the association, Mr. Samuel Ahmed Bibinu, alleged that an helicopter had been transporting weapons to Ananum Tiv base in Donga Local Government Area.
He also alleged that the helicopter had made three trips to Ananum.
His words: ‘‘It’s my pleasure to address you and the whole world today on the security situation of Ichen land.
“I wish to categorically state that the Tiv from Ananu attacked the Ichen on their farm land recently; but the issue was resolved among elders. Few days after, some Tiv militia and their mercenaries took up arms against Ichen race in Donga and Bali councils. They struck in Gidan Adamu on April 29, 2020; Gankwe Barki on April 30. And in May 1, 2020, they further attacked Suntai
Daji in Donga on May 4. They attacked villages in Bali council in Kwassa Sarki on May 2; Kwassa Sabo on May 2; Baka Koshi, May 2. They later started using an helicopter to transport their weapon to Ananum.
“As at today, the helicopter has made three trips to Ananu with their armoury and mercenaries.’’
According to him, they are yet to understand how and where the helicopter got the permission to land in Taraba State when there is ban on flight because of COVID-19 pandemic.
He therefore called on the federal government of Nigeria to urgently investigate the movement of that helicopter to Ananum, and also called on the state government, NEMA, SEMA and well-meaning Nigerians to provide relief materials to cushion the people’s hardship at the IDPs centre, even as he appealed to Ichen people not to take law into their hands by retaliating the Tiv attacks.
Besides, the President General of the Tiv Social Cultural Development Association in Taraba State, Chief Goodman Dandahida, said that the crises had claimed hundreds of lives of his people and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.
He also called on the state government to urgently implement the report submitted to it since last year by the 30-man committee.
"I believe that if that report is implemented it will definitely end the crisis because the report is harmonised by both the Tiv and the Jukun," he said.
Also, the Caretaker Chairman of Donga Local Government Area, Nashuka Musa Ipeyem, said on phone that the crisis was caused by a farm dispute.
“My attention was drawn to a dispute between two people - a Tiv man and an Ichen man - over land which we summoned them for a meeting where an agreement was reached on a particular point to farm and stop without encroaching to each other’s land; but immediately I left for Jalingo, I received a call from the DPO that they found two dead bodies on the main road which happened to be bodies of Ichen guys. I informed the CP and he ordered the DC Operations to attain to us. While in Jalingo, I met with some Tiv prominent personalities in my area; I pleaded that they should talk to their people on the need for us to leave in peace. Accountant Ananum is one of them but before I knew it, the Tiv people attacked Sanso. They burnt down Gidan Adamu and went to Gangwe and went as far as attacking Suntai Daji. I heard that the President of Tiv association is accusing me of being bias. Even my people are accusing me of taking side with the Tiv people. They sometimes vandalized my house; my people faulted me because I prevented them from going for reprisal attack. What else do they want me to do? I have done my best as a leader by preventing our boys from taking laws into their hands.”
On whether an
unknown helicopter landed in his area, he said yes.
"We were in Donga when an helicopter landed at Ananum. We saw it even together with security men; no doubt about it. You can even call any of the security men to confirm or verify from them," he said.

When contacted, the Senator representing the Southern Taraba, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, a Mararba indigene, to know his role in the crisis, he said, ‘‘Yes there is crisis between the Tiv and Ichen in my place; but to the glory of God, everything is under control now.
“I have called on the army to take over the place. I raised that issue in the Senate, which I appealed to the federal government to send soldiers who will be neutral and willing to protect lives and property of both the parties and I am glad that they responded and normalcy has since returned to the area.
“I also called on both warring factions to please lay down their arms as crisis of any form deters progress; they should embrace peace because peace is the catalyst for development.”

News Category: