The Nasarawa South Senatorial District, comprising Awe, Keana, Obi, Doma and Lafia local government areas have come under fresh attacks as some herdsmen armed with their trademark AK-47 rifles invaded more Tiv communities, gunning down men, women, children and the elderly.
The latest attacks, coming after the April 24th Ajikamaka attacks in Doma Local Government Area, which displaced more than 50,000 farmers in 13 communities, included the one at Tse Amudu, in Giza Development Area of Keana Local Government, where a Catholic catechist, Mr Sydney Shirsha, was slaughtered along with two others on the night of May 15, 2021.
The scale of destruction in the latest attacks was massive as several communities were completely destroyed and rendered desolate. The pockets of attacks on Tiv communities in the last one week have displaced about 70 Tiv villages with over 300,000 farmers fleeing their ancestral homes in fear for their lives.
The Tiv settlements in Keana Local Government Area where the indigenous farmers deserted their homes include Dooshima, Kyayol, Targema, Antsa, Mdza, Nyamgwatse, Azer, Nyamada, Kirigh, Shoho, Tornyiatu, Mori, Usuwe, Tse yaji, Tse jough, Tse yanwua, Ajo, Tse Akura, Amudu, Tse hyobo, Agberagba, Abebe, Tse Gyo, Chiata, Iorna, Tse Abegu and Peverga Sor village. They are all taking refuge at Agyaragu, Kadarko, Keana town and Kuduku areas.
In Doma Local Government Area, the sacked Tiv villages include Ajimaka, Dooga, Gborgyo, Angbo Adaka, Tugudu, Gboko, Uluva, Iwyar Ihyar, Zegeyo, Zever, Kwanan kere, Atadera and Tse Sebu, while their residents are currently taking refuge in Rukubi, Doma and Okpata areas.
Our Correspondent gathered that in Obi Local Government Area, about six Tiv villages were deserted over the inhabitants’ fear that they could be attacked by the militia herdsmen. They include Abaagu, Tse Adam, Shishim, Apurugh, Wurji and Abiji, while the fleeing residents are taking refuge at Agon, Abaagu, Imon and Ibuan areas.
In Lafia LGA, about seven large Tiv settlements were sacked by the invaders. The affected villages include Chorun, Agberchamegh, Bem, Gwabo, Angwa Ayaba, Jooke and Haghe. The fleeing inhabitants are taking refuge in Asumeku and Ugber Igbul areas.
In Awe LGA, the attackers sacked seven Tiv villages and occupied their ancestral homes. The villages include Orvaanya, Wurji Gusa, Tse Kuma, Maraba Mbuegh, Tse Ayegh, Ikyosun and Kaambe. The farmers are currently taking refuge at Awe former Secretariat and Tse Atsember area.
The question on the lips of concerned observers is how long can the Tiv farmers in Nasarawa State survive the ongoing invasion of their lands and houses by herdsmen?
The fertile fields of the Tiv people in Nasarawa State are at the risk of being overrun by the herdsmen who see the lands as good for grazing their cows.
Our correspondent, who accompanied the President of the Nasarawa State Chapter of Tiv Development Association (TIDA), Comrade Peter Ahemba and his executive members to access some of the deserted villages in the latest attacks, found that many communities in the area had become totally inhabitable while the invaders’ cows had taken over several farms and were seen eating up newly planted crops and destroying recently planted yam sets that had started growing.
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With the exception of a few chickens and goats wandering about aimlessly in the deserted villages, there was no sign of human life. The people had either been killed or they had fled for dear lives.
The scenes of attacks in some of the communities visited by the TIDA president in Keana, Obi, Doma and Awe, were reminiscent of scenes of attacks in a war situation. Many of the affected villages now bear the semblance of a war torn environment.
The TIDA president said: “I am shocked beyond words at the extent of destruction I have seen; the magnitude of the disaster carried out against my people.”
He alleged a grand plot by the herdsmen in collaboration with some tribes in the state to completely annihilate the indigenous Tiv farmers.
He appealed to Governor Abdullahi Sule not to allow the planned extermination of the Tiv ancestral homes by the militia during his reign as Governor of Nasarawa State.
Ahemba said: “Few days ago, they murdered a Catechist, Mr Sydney Shirsha of Amudu village in Giza chiefdom of Keana Local Government Area of the state, alongside two other people.
“The militia men, armed with sophisticated weapons, invaded the Tse Amudu, a Tiv village in Giza Development Area of the state, killing the Catechist and two others in the midnight attack.
“The attack left several others with various degrees of gunshot injuries, just as the incident has led to the displacement of over 20,000 more Tiv farmers in the area alone.”
The TIDA president said Governor Abdullahi Sule is a father to all the Tiv people in Nasarawa State.
“He means well for us. He is doing his best to secure us. He is passionate about our safety and our security, and I believe he will not allow the herdsmen to take over our ancestral homes,” he said.
He regretted that the Tiv people in the state have remained under sustained attacks by armed herders for no reason.
“The killing and displacement of the Tiv people of the state in the coordinated attacks have continued unabated since the first attack on Ajimaka community in Doma Local Government, which led to the gruesome murder of nine persons about a month ago.”
“We call on His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi Sule, to save our soul. We are being chased out of Nasarawa State and we are appealing to the governor not to allow the seemingly planned elimination of the Tiv community succeed under his watch”
“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the state government towards restoring peace and security in the affected areas, and we as law abiding citizens shall continue to count on the government for protection of our lives and property.
“It is unfortunate that while the government is making frantic efforts to restore peace, the attackers and their collaborators are bent on ensuring that the Tiv community is completely wiped out of the state.”
The Nasarawa Tiv leader also appealed to the state government to beef up security around the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps, alleging that there are threats of more attacks on Tiv villages and IDP camps in the affected areas. While appreciating traditional rulers in the affected Local Governments for accommodating many of the displaced Tiv persons in their personal homes and public facilities, the TIDA President also acknowledged their untiring efforts towards complimenting the government’s quest for peace and security.
Our correspondent gathered that schools, churches and small-scale cassava factories in the area have all become shadows of themselves.
Some community leaders who followed the TIDA president to inspect the extent of the damage have described the invasion of their lands as a “deliberate act of genocide” against the Tiv indigenes in Nasarawa State.
“What we are seeing is a pogrom against our people, as it is now obvious that they want to destroy our houses, farms and take over our lands for cattle grazing. The extermination of our ancestral home is taking place before our eyes,” a community leader, Mr Agbe, said.
It was also gathered in some communities, women and children have relocated to far distances while the men were keeping vigil in some yet to be attacked villages nearby.
A humanitarian disaster appears imminent among the Tiv population in Nasarawa State as the situation appears to be deteriorating by the day.