By Williams Ayooso

Emerging facts have revealed Governor Darius Ishaku’s likely connection in the land grab quagmire that left one killed and several people injured in Dugwer Community.

Dugwer is a suburban community of Bali town, administrative headquarter of Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State. It is an ancient settlement, occupied largely by Tiv agrarian farmers in a space that spans across 500 hectares of land.

The trouble, which according to worldview checks, started many months ago, over a large portion of land, climaxed on Monday morning, with the shooting and killing of some community members by local vigilantes, allegedly on the instruction of the paramount ruler of the area, the Kuru Jibu, HRH Alhaji Abubakar Mahmood Adamu.

Kuru Jibu, HRH Abubakar Mahmood Adamu
The Kuru Jibu, according to worldview finding have approached the leaders of the community that the Executive Governor of the State, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku is interested in the land, therefore, they should vacate the land to a destination that the Kuru Jibu promised he will provide. Several interactions and coercive measures were taken in this direction, but the community leaders refused to obliged, a development that led to the present violent approach.

Mr Apee Azera, a 67-year-old member of the community provided a graphic account of the conflict, when he told our reporter that the attempt to take over their lands manifested during the communal crisis of 2014 and since then, the community has known no peace.

‘When the 2014 conflict which displaced our people was over, we returned to our ancestral home only to meet a strange person, by name Alhaji Danladi claiming ownership of our land. We challenged him in the court of law, up to Court of Appeal Yola and defeated him.

‘In 2017/2018, another communal crisis chased us away. Upon return, we met some people surveying our lands. They were armed. They could not allow us get close to them, so as to know their mission. After some time, Kuru Jibu invited some of us, who are elders of this community to his Palace
and told them that the Governor of Taraba State wants our land. We told him we are not civil servants, neither are we business men, all we do is farming. Therefore, if the government is taking this place from us, where are we going to stay? He said he would show us a place to relocate. We were yet to be shown the place, only to wake up on Saturday to see a bulldozer that was battle ready to destroy our ancestral homes.’ He told our reporter.

The octogenarian community leader, who told our reporter that, even his father was born in the community, wondered why government would consider such an action against them when they have the graves of their forefathers and loved ones, aside their farming activities that is the mainstay of their survival.

Another member of the community, a 56-year-old Zaki Iorchir Ternenge, who said he is the leader of the Dugwer Community, told our reporter that their community never had it this bad until recently, when the Kuru Jibu mounted the throne.

‘We have been here for many decades, even before the Kuru Jibu was born. Some of our uncles even taught him in his primary school days. When he contested election, we gave him our massive support, feeling that he is part of us. Since the days of our fore fathers, we never had any issue with any authority. Now that our fathers are no more, Kuru Jibu and his cohorts are all out to destroy us. He is fond of giving portions of our lands to strangers and using security men to intimidate us at any slightest resistance.

‘On this phase of the land grab attempt, he started by inciting one Alhaji Danladi to claim the land. We defeated him in the court of law. When that approach failed, he engaged us in several meetings, trying to convince us that the Governor of Taraba State is interested in the land, therefore, he did not want to disappoint him. He promised to give us another land. But we asked him the fate of economic trees, graves of our forefathers and which portion of land within Bali LGA, is so vacant such that it can accommodate about 6000 people, which is the population of our community.

Some Dugwer community members gathered helplessly around the Bull Dozer that was mobilised by Kuru Jibu to crush their ancestral homes
‘We were in this stalemate when on Saturday, 1st April, some people, including Mallam Dabo, who is the Wazirin Kuru Jibu and Mallam Gambo, Maji Kuru Jibu, brought in a bulldozer into our community. They told us that the Kuru Jibu has directed that every occupant of the community should vacate the premises to allow the Bulldozer to start clearing the land, adding that everybody who stays behind is doing so at his own risk.’ He stated.

When Worldview Magazine team visited the embattled community on Saturday, 2th April, the Bulldozer was still parked within the disputed premises. It was surrounded by hundreds of community members who were looking perplexed and disillusioned.

One Terhemen, killed by the attackers this morning
Meanwhile, the crisis took a deadly dimension on Monday, 3rd April, as armed local vigilantes, allegedly under the instruction of the Kuru Jibu, stormed the community, killing a 42-year-old Terwase Ayem, while several others sustained various degrees of injury and looting. The attackers, according statements from the locals, also looted agriculture crops and personal effects worth Millions of Naira.

Among those who escaped with severe injury, is the Leader of the Community, Zaki Ternenge. He survived the attack, but his Motorcycle was taken away, his property, just like those of other community members, were looted by the invaders.

‘The Kuru Jibu came himself in company of the DPO Bali and intimidated us where our people were gathered around the Bulldozer. Immediately they left, some armed youths, came, about 60 of them, fully armed with dangerous weapons. They were chasing people and shooting them. They also looted farm products reserved by some of our members, motorcycles and personal belongings. About 15 motorcycles are carted away. We lost property worth Millions of Naira.

‘I cannot ascertain the casualty figure at the moment, because I just came back from where I was hiding. I know that Mr Terhemen is death already. Some were shot while on the run. As I talk to you now, some of our community members are still missing.’ He told our reporter.

Bala Dan Abu, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, denied the Governor Darius Ishaku’s involvement the forceful land seizure quagmire. Bala Dan Abu, who spoke with our reporter in a phone conversation told our reporter that there is no way the Governor, who is a man of integrity, will be involved in a deal that does not have a clear arrangement.

While confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, Taraba State Police Command, DSP Usman Abdullahi, told our reporter that the situation has been brought under control. He added that some arrest has being made and useful information is being gathered so as to get to the root cause of the matter.

Dugwer, a highly populated Tiv community, is located along Takum road, 3 kilometres away from Bali Town. Worldview checks reveals that the community has a population of about 6000 people, spread across 500 hectares of land.


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