A socio-political group, Middle Belt Conscience Guard, has accused a former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), and the Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, of fueling armed conflicts in Taraba State and its environ.
The group made the allegation on Sunday in Abuja at a press conference addressed by its National President, Prince Raymond Enero, in response to the reported call by Danjuma on citizens of Taraba State to defend themselves against armed bandits.
The group described the comments made by the former Army Chief as unfortunate and unbecoming of a supposedly elder statesman who should commit to peace and unity of the nation rather than using his experience to fuel communal and ethnic crisis.
It said: “Prior to the issuance of Danjuma’s poisonous directive, the Taraba State Governor, Mr. Darius Ishaku, has been fingered in the escalation of the crisis between the farming and pastoral communities in Taraba State, especially on the Mambila Plateau.
“The governor reportedly armed ethnic militias to carry out attacks on other ethnic groups, which consequently fueled reprisals in other states of the Middle-Belt and beyond. A couple of other states copied the Taraba example and armed militias with the same consequence of endless reprisals that have seen the circle of violence enter a continuous loop and spiraling across the country.”
It further alleged that the former Army Chief was using his international connections in collaboration with some governors in the region to import weapons and arm local militia that have been perpetrating mayhem in the region.
It said: “TY Danjuma has revealed himself as the godfather of the militias and the governors are merely field commanders. The godfather has the international connections to procure black market weapons, the limitless resources to procure the arms and the incentive to distribute them.
“His call is just an attempt to project an argument for the weapons to get on our streets.”
The group while insisting that the unity and peace of the country should not be sacrificed for whatever reason, called on the military to ensure that weapons are taken off the hands of militia and ensure that peace thrives in the land.
It further expressed dissatisfaction that more than 24 hours after Danjuma made such heinous remarks, he has not yielded to reason to retrace his steps, adding that he will be dragged before the competent legal authorities – domestic and international – for any life lost because of his declaration of war.
It said: “Danjuma’s call for people to ‘defend yourselves’ is in no way to be taken lightly. He made that call only because he has the arsenal to deploy by way of providing weapons to his ethnic group to kill others. It has happened before during the Jukun/Tiv clashes. There is no guarantee that the geo-political zone can survive another round of crisis fueled by TY Danjuma supplied weapons.
“The call made to the people to defend themselves is apparently out of frustration because the governors he uses as his field commanders have been stumped with the launch of Operation Ayem Akpatuma (Cat Race) by the Nigerian Army. The operation had led to the uncovering of the militias that were armed under different and different names but all aimed at perpetrating genocide.”