Working in synergy with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN in Kogi State, Fulani militia are daily flooding Bagana, a riverine area in Omala Local Government Council in Kogi East Senatorial District, CAPITAL POST, reports.
Bagana, a community situated by the lower River Benue part of Kogi East once have a robust and thriving trade by barter transactions which has lasted for centuries, but got embroiled in communal clashes with Patanyi and Omagede communities claiming ownership of Bagana in few years ago.
Before the crises snowballed into uncontrollable level in barely eight years ago, it has all been animosity among residents of Bagana, Patanyi and Omagede, but in Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration, the communal clashes became deepened due to political interest introduced into it.
The cause of crises were due to revenue generated on market days as traders came from all parts of Kogi East, Enugu and Anambra due to its trade by barter and cheap food items including fresh and dried fishes which were majorly supplied by the Agatu speaking people.
When our correspondent visited Bagana in the guise of buying dried fishes, to the consternation of all imaginations, Fulani people have taken over the entire community and could be seen collecting revenue and issuing receipts to motorists.
It was also discovered that motorists plying Abejukolo, headquarters of Omala and Bagana road including those coming to the market from outside the LGA have surrendered their fate to Fulani impostors and were willingly paying levies to them.
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Apart from the fact that they look alien, and hardly speak ‘pidgin’ English, their Hausa accent is that of Nigeriens. Fully armed, each Fulani sighted has an AK47 including some on guards in readiness to pull trigger in case of any eventualities.
As at the time of CAPITAL POST’s visit to Bagana, no single residential building was standing on its own, no thanks to the last crises which the Patanyi and Omagede people unleashed Fulani hirelings on them.
The Bagana which was home to Agatu and Igala speaking tribe has completely been deserted after gun battle with hired Fulani mercenaries by the Patanyi and Omagede communities, thus, every houses are either reduced to rubles or set ablaze by the invaders. Currently, the residents have been turned into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Abejukolo-Ife.
Political Interest/Crowding of Fulani militia ahead of Governorship election
Presently, the Fulani militia are flooding Bagana on the invitation of those earlier hired for gun battle by the Patanyi and Omagede communities for purposes of dislodging Bagana residents.
Speaking with one of Bagana’s youth leader who pleaded anonymity, he told CAPITAL POST that Fulani militia has gone beyond the communal crisis and has metamorphosed into Kogi State Governorship Election now. He revealed that the militias are crossing River Benue down to Bagana from the neighbouring Nasarawa axis. A development he said, was on the involvement of the leadership of Kogi MACBAN who chose to assist Yahaya Bello’s administration in the forthcoming governorship election in the Eastern Senatorial district.
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He said, Bagana has become a camping ground for the militias preparatory to invade Omala in connivance with thugs loyal to the All Congress, APC who are familiar with the forest in order to make the affected LGAs inaccessible for election.
“I was in Bagana market and it’s fearful, the sophisticated guns being brandished by the militias. I can confirm to you that on Wednesday last week I sighted some militias coming into Bagana and currently their number has gone up to 300.or thereabout.
“The authority has interest in using them to distabilise Kogi East so that election will not hold”, the youth leader said.
In the similar vein, the President of Ife Development Association, IDA, Dr. Aaron Omale confirmed the camping of Fulani militias in Bagana for election purposes. He lamented how political leaders in the State and at the LG are feigning ignorance of strange faces in Bagana because of political interest.
According to him, the leadership of the socio-cultural group has scheduled a meeting with the traditional rulers in Omala LG in order to discuss the challenge and push it up to the appropriate quarters.
A local vigilante leader in Abejukolo, speaking on the development, admitted that there is tension over the presence of militia with the high calibre of weapons they are brandishing.
He said, they will remain law abiding, pray and calm, believing that government would take action at the right time.
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Meanwhile, calls and Watsapp messages sent to the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Williams Ovye Ayah to react if the Police was aware of the presence of Fulani militias was not responded to before filing this report.
CAPITAL POST recalled that the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Kogi State Chapter on Saturday, September 16, paid a courtesy call on governor Yahaya Bello at the Lugard House, Lokoja.
The Chairman of the Fulani group in Kogi State, Umar Yusuf Damina assured the governor of their support for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Ododo Ahmed Usman.
The MACBAN leader in his address claimed that Bello has numerous achievements to his credit, saying that the governor has secured the State in past years.
In his welcoming address, Bello lauded MACBAN’s endorsement of APC’s Ododo ahead of November 11, governorship election, adding that he was “deeply moved by this display of unity,” while he reiterated his administration’s stance against any form of discrimination against the Fulanis in Kogi State.
He lauded MACBAN for its valuable contributions in sharing information and gathering intelligence, which had aided conventional security forces in identifying and eliminating criminal elements among the Fulani community in the state.
Governor Bello expressed his conviction that the Fulanis, known for their unwavering commitment to their word, would undoubtedly throw their support behind the APC during the November 11 polls.