ACCDA to security agents: Berom are drumming for war
A call has been made to the relevant security agencies in Plateau State to monitor the activities of the Berom Nation to avert any break down of law and order allegedly being threatened by her umbrella body, the Berom Educational and Cultural Organization.
The Berom Nation has been accused by the Afizere Cultural and Community Development Association of beating war drums, which, if not checked, could ignite fresh violence in the state.
The ACCDA made this call on Friday while reacting to the a recent press conference addressed by BECO, laying claim of the ownership of Jos, the capital of Plateau State.
At the world press conference on Friday, the spokesperson of the ACCDA, Prof. Danladi Atu, said the Afizere are peace loving people, but would not by any act of cowardice
compromise their historical ancestral land to anybody.
The press conference, jointly attended by the Izere Elders’ forum, the youth and the women forum, boldly asked the Beroms to stay clear from their self acclaimed ownership of Jos North Local Government of Plateau State or face stiff resistance.
Atu said: “It is in the light of the foregoing that the Afizere Cultural and Community Development Association is compelled by the prevailing circumstance to set the records straight by reacting to the full text of press delivered by the President of BECO, one Ericson E. Fom, on Wednesday, 8th February, 2017 at the BECO National Secretariat, Bukuru on behalf of the Berom nation.
“As a community, we believe that in pursuing and upholding justice and liberation of all peoples, every community must be seen to be a beneficiary of the process. That is why it behoves on us as a people to not only place issues raised by BECO in correct perspective, but to equally bring out objectively the historical and social records to the fore for both governmental and non-governmental actors who are genuinely concerned with the task of upholding justice and liberation of all peoples as is being witnessed today on the Plateau. We therefore make bold to address the issues raised by BECO within the following framework:
“Re-citation at the coronation ceremony of Agwom Izere.
Historical exposition of the facts.
Justification of Jos Izere Chiefdom
Debunking the frivolous allegations; assertions, misrepresentations and contradictions in the BECO full press text.
“Gentlemen of the Press, the statement “… inglorious immediate past administration of the state” was directed at Da Jonah Jang, the then governor of Plateau State who during his administration, did not only deliberately place the Afizere people at a disadvantage position by denying us our legally constituted traditional institutions in Jos-North and Jos-East Local Government Areas, but terminated appointments of our sons and daughters in government without reason and also denied us appointments. As a matter of fact, Jang debased our personalities and rendered us as second class citizens of Plateau State. This explains why we referred to his administration as ‘inglorious’. In any case, the statement was not targeted at the Berom people but on Jang government except if the Berom are saying that it was a Berom government implementing a Berom agenda or receiving instructions from them.
“The Afizere of Jos North LGA are known to be in direct possession of the land we now occupy, for hundreds of years, without challenge as nobody was inhabiting them. Our forebears did not meet any resistance by any group when they settled here. It was, infact, virgin land. These areas include: Gwash, Nupis, Gwafan (Lamingo), Fudawa, Kwanga “b”, Katon Rikkos, Rikkos, Kubob (Gangare), Guash (Jos or the area now occupied by Nigerian Airways Office, NITEL, Ministry of Works Yard, Museum, St. Theresa’s Church and Boys Primary School, Bank of the North, Post Office etc. and all the surrounding farmlands stretching miles away), Gyese (Tudun Wada), Kabong, Rimado (Mado or Jos Wildlife Park) and Dong.
“An interesting phenomenon with Afizere settlements in the past, and as still seen in rural areas of Jos East, is scattered homesteads, instead of nucleated villages or towns. Thus, apart from the semi nucleated settlement of Jos (Guash) around the hill now bordered by Jos Museum, NITEL, Ministry of Works Yard, Nigerian Airways Office, St. “Theresa’s, Central Bank, COCIN Headquarters etc. and the surrounding farmlands, scattered settlement spanned from Gwash in the East across to Tudun Wada (Gyese), Kabong and Dong to the West covering all our territorial domains mentioned above. As mixed farmers, they needed such expanse of land for farming and tending their large herds of goats and sheep.
“Our immediate neighbours then were Afizere of Jos East to the East, Anaguta to the North, Rukuba to the West, and Berom to the South. Our shared natural boundary with the Berom was the stream immediately North of Bukuru town, which runs from the East to the West. (See Map M 60 of January 1927 and its extract: Map of Jos North and Jos South LGAs showing Gwong District of Jos North, indicating the exact area of naraguta District which later became Gwong District named after the amalgamation of Anaguta and Afizere of Jos North into one District. The word Gwong being an Afizere derivative from “Gwung”, meaning to combine, join, amalgamate or merge).
“Gentlemen of the press, other areas occupied by our people then were Old Airport, Rayfield, Dadin Kowa, Anglo Jos and Gigiring, which was actually part and parcel of Tudun Wada (Gyese). It is essential to note that as from 1927 to 1948, this last group of our settlements and farmlands were encroached upon and arrogated to Du District at different times.
“The following quotations and references from authenticated historical documents will elucidate more on our territorial boundaries with our neighbours, the Berom and Anaguta.
“(a)In a report signed on 30th June, 1914 by Mr. S.E.M. Stobart, Assistant District Officer titled: ‘Assessment Report on Anaguta and Jarawa Tribes of Bukuru District, Naraguta Division,’ Stobart stated: ‘The Anaguta Tribe and that portion of the Jarawa (Afizere) which inhabits the town of Jos reside among the hills overlooking the Government Station and Hausa settlements of Naraguta and Jos respectively, which they farm in the fertile basin formed by the Delimi River. They are bounded on the East, North-East and South East by the Jarawa Tribe of Bauchi Emirate, on the North-West by the Narabunu on the South west by the Burrum (Kikyen) and on the west by the Rukuba Tribe.’
“Furthermore, under the sub-title: ‘Historical and Ethnological’ of the same report, Stobart stated: ‘The people of Jos belong to Jarawa tribe and migrated from Fobur about a century ago….The Jos people speak the language of the Hill Jarawa but they are mixing with the Burrum (Kibyen) Tribe….’
“Certainly, this was the time our neighbours, the Berom, started making incursions into our territorial land as it is obvious that we had not lived in the same domain with them prior to pacification. After pacification of Plateau Tribes, the Berom started drifting to our vast farmlands, initially, as tenants. We allowed them, principally, on the basis of good neighbourliness and peaceful inter-tribal relationship, because at that time, there was much land hunger in their territorial areas. Shockingly, after just one generation, and the demise of their parents, the children started laying claims to these farmlands to the extent that we became litigants over land and territorial matters for two generations now as the Berom have never allowed us sleep.
“(b)In a similar report on the Berom, Mr. Stobart wrote inter-alia: ‘Neighbouring tribes on the North are the Jarawa and Rukuba, on the East, the Jarawa and Pyem, on the South by Kaleri, Baron and Sura people and on the West the Ganawuri and Irigwe. The Bukuru town itself was founded about 200 years ago, partly by the people from Gabon Hill, which is situated between Ngel and Miango and was probably the first occupied site on the Plateau….’
“By this description, ‘Gabon Hill’, which the Berom always associate with Kabong appears to be two different places. While Kabong is located North-East of Dong, Gabon Hill by this description is located somewhere South West of Dong. This is more so that when the Afizere migrated to Kabong, no tribe was found inhabiting the place. Secondly, if the area of Kabong had been a territory of the Berom, Stobart’s reports and those of his British compatriots would have indicated that Afizere of Jos and Anaguta were bounded by the Berom Tribe on the West and NOT the Rukuba Tribe.
“(c) Mr. E.W. Thomstone, Assistant District Officer in his ‘Reassessment Report on the Anaguta and Jarawa Tribes of Jos Division’, in 1920 wrote: ‘The jarawa (Afizere) are bounded on the North by the Anaguta, on the South by the Burrum, on the East by the Jarawa of Bauchi and on the West by the Rukuba.’
“(d) Likewise, in defining the Berom territory, Mr. H.A. Prankerd, D.O. in File NO. SNP9 3/69/1921 under the title, ‘Burrum Tribe’ found at the National Archives, Kaduna stated: ‘Its inhabitants are situated round Bukuru Hausa town, and South-East and South-West of it.’
“(e) Similarly, other ‘documentors’ e.g. Harold D. Gunn in his Ethnological survey of Africa, West Africa Part VII, “ People of the Plateau Area of Northern Nigerian London International African Institute 1953, page 63, footnote 1 which states inter alia: ‘… the conjecture is perhaps more interesting when it is noted that the migration from Fobur, to which the foundation of Jos is attributed went as far as Chawai, according to tradition.’
“Surely this statement also reinforces our assertion that our settlements spanned from present Jos town location to include Tudun Wada, kabong, Mado and Dong, where, west of these villages we are bounded by the Rukuba and Irigwe.
“(f) Anthony Dung Bingel (a Berom man) in his book: ‘Jos Origins and Growth of the Town 1900 to 1972, University of Jos, Department of Geography, Publication No. 1 Nigeria, 1978 pages 2 – 3. He did not mince words when quoting from Col. Laws reported, as follows: ‘…. A small village called Guash, occupied by the present location of Jos. Hausa traders who arrived supposedly mispronounced Guash for Jos, and the name stuck.’
“Borrowing from Harold D. Gunn, he stated: ‘… the original native village of Guash was founded by the Afusare people of the Jarawa tribe who are sometimes called the Afusare or Jarawan Jos.’
“All these reports are consistent with our assertion that the Berom only came to settle among us after pacification and at the beginning of colonization. Prankerd’s report is even more specific and conforms to the fact that our boundary with Berom was the Bukuru stream. That is to say, the Berom were only located South West and South East of Bukuru town and not anywhere north of the town.
“In a memo to the secretary, Commission of Inquiry into the disputed Land areas of Du, Gwong and Gyel dated 22nd May, 1991, Ujah Jauro Magaji asserted that ‘one of the nine villages that make up Gwong District is a village called Gwafan….the village head of Gwafan as well as Zangam, Nabor has ward heads at kabong. All the inhabitants of kabong pay their tax through the District head of Kabong’. This statement buttresses the fact that kabong is not part of Du. It is in the light of the above that Ada Ama Atang was remitting his tax to then Gwong District as a village head before the stool was elevated to a district by the Dariye administration in 2004. Dong and Tudun Wada (Gyese) also benefitted from the same exercise as shown in the Plateau state Gazette No. 4 Vol of 22nd June, 2006. This gave us the legal backing to install district heads in those areas.
“Gentlemen of the press, following the decision of the Dariye administration to create new chiefdoms and Districts in order to liberate its people, the Afizere and Anaguta ethnic groups initially lobbied for the creation of one chiefdom to be named as Gwong Chiefdom, the two ethnic groups however mutually agreed to seek for their separate chiefdoms. It was on that basis that the Afizere people (with five Gazetted villages in Jos-North) sought for the creation of Jos Izere chiefdom on second class status while the Anaguta sought for the creation of Anaguta chiefdom. Jos Izere chiefdom, which is presently on second class status, as shown in the Plateau state Gazette No.4 Vol: 10 of 12th May, 2005 has eleven districts namely: Jos Jarawa, Fudawa, Gwafan, Gwash, Nukpis, Rikkos, Furaka, Tudun wada (Gyese), Dong and Kazumung-Kabong. It is a fact that the rescue administration of Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong administration recognizes this Gazette as a legal document.
“The spurious allegation by BECO that the chiefdom was created three days to the end of the Dariye administration is false as can be seen from the Gazette quoted above, in addition, the first paramount ruler of Jos Izere chiefdom was the Late ada Innocent Bala (May God rest his soul) who was on the throne on government salary for two years before his demise. How then can two years suddenly shrink to three days?
“On Districts/Jos Izere Chiefdom of Izere people of Jos North.
“It beats our imagination for BECO to recognize their Gwom Reis all across Jos South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi but do not recognize the 2nd class status of Jos Izere Chiefdom in Jos North when both were created under the same Law. Or is it a case of all animals are equal but some are more equal than others?
“We are not aware of having any court case with the Berom, or perhaps it only exists in their imagination.
“BECO mischievously disclosed that ‘… Curiously, this creation (of Jos Izere chiefdom) was without corresponding districts and village areas in Jos North’. We make bold to say that Jos Izere chiefdom was created with the full compliments of districts and villages as shown in the Plateau state Gazette No.4 Vol: 10 of 12th May, 2005 pg 39-40: ’…the issues raised in this press conference should not be viewed as minor as they have the capacity to generate avoidable chaos, disharmony and violence amongst our peoples’.
“This statement shows that the Berom do not want peace with the Afizere people as their antecedents attest to the fact that they have at one time or the other had crisis with Mwaghwavul, Bokkos people, Ganwuri people, Irigwe, Pyem and Afizere people in Fursum district of Jos East LGC ( all of whom are their neighbours). The Afizere people on the other hand are known for peaceful co-existence with our neighbours. Who are then the ‘war mongers and conflict merchants amongst us’? Your guess is as good as ours.
“In what way did the Berom influence the creation of Jos North LGA in favour of the Afizere during General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime when it was the same community that addressed a press conference in Abuja in Protest of the creation of Jos South LGA?
“What was the contribution that they made in establishing the first class stool of Izere chiefdom when it was the inglorious regime of Jang that suspended the stool simply because it was a first class stool which to him the Afizere did not merit?
“Abuse of Local Government authority by past and present Afizere chairmen of Jos North
We make bold to state that all past and present Jos North local government chairmen of Izere extraction have always acted according to the dictates of their office by carrying everybody along without any form of discrimination. The facts are there for all to see.
“The Afizere people are aware of the trade of engaging on unnecessary controversies by the Berom, this does not add value to anyone, because it appears BECO wants to create ethnic tension by stirring the nest of melee and discord.”