Kobir Community: Living in perpetual fear | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Kobir Community: Living in perpetual fear

Posted: Apr 21, 2015 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Hassan Zaggi / Correspondent, Abuja


Since the attack on the once serene and peaceful  Kobir village by suspected Fulani herdsmen in June last year, the community has not known peace as the villagers now live in perpetual fear of another attack.

•Jirbin Ambi

Jirbin Ambi

Kobir village is in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The village is situated along the popular Jos road, about 20 minutes drive from Gwantu, the local government headquarters.

Predominantly an agrarian community, the village has a population of about three thousand people.

It would be recalled that in the great parts of June and July last year, , suspected Fulani herdsmen launched series of attacks on different villages in Sanga local government killing close to 200 persons and  many  others injured. Some residents of the area are still missing and could not be accounted for as their where about is still unknown.

Recalling the ugly incident in an interview with Daily Independent, the Spokesperson of Kobir village,  Jibrin  Ambi  said: “It was on June 24, 2014, around 1:15pm, when we just saw Fulani herdsmen in our village with heavy guns. On sighting them, some of us that have the ability to run, ran to the bush. Unfortunately, our women because they could not run fast, 38 of them were killed and 3 men also fall victim of the guns spray by the killers.”

When asked whether there was an early provocation on the Fulani herdsmen before the attack considering that  both of them (the herdsmen and villagers are neighbours’) , he said: “No. What we know is that the day before they came to our village, the killed people in a nearby village called Nandu and some of us out of sympathy for what happened went to the General Hospital in Gwantu,  our local government headquarters to see what had happened. We saw many copses of people who were killed by the herdsmen.

“When we came back, we never knew that we were the next target. At around 1:15pm, they came in here without any provocation or any quarrel between us and them. We never expected that they will come here.”

Since then, according to him, the community has not known peace as the Fulani herdsmen always lead their cows to destroy their farms. They sometimes, he noted “come to our village brandishing dangerous weapons and intimidating us.

“We are living in constant fear. They always provoke us by cutting down our crops. As at now we don’t have banana again. This is because the Fulani men as they are rearing their cattle, they always cut down any banana plant in sight.  They also cut down our cassava and throw it for their cows to eat.

“Most of them are living around us and because they are always in the bush, when we go to the farm the following day, we see how they have destroyed our crops.”

Ambi   however, regretted that since the killings of many members of their community close to a year now, the government, either at the state or the local government level has not visited them, let alone give them any support.

“It is only one prominent person in our local government that came to see us here. Even the governor of our state, Ramalan Yero, has not deemed it fit to come here and sympathise with us let alone assist us.”

Commenting on the efforts of the security agents such as the police in providing some sort of security for them in the area, the spokesperson noted: “On the fateful day that the suspected Fulani herdsmen where planning to attack us, somebody came here and told us that they were painting their faces in preparation for the operation. One of us then called the then Divisional Police Officer (DPO) who has since been transferred on phone and told him what the suspected herdsmen were planning, but he did not do anything up to the time they came and attacked our community.  It was after the attack and the attackers had left before two policemen surfaced.”

While lamenting that the community is handicapped on how it will protect itself from the deadly Fulani herdsmen, the community spokesman explained: “We don’t have anything that we can do. These people have sophisticated weapons, where can we get the money to buy the weapons that can march their own. We have given ourselves to God.

“Even the DPO that is close to us here has not deemed it fit to send some police men to come and patrol here in the night. We don’t even sleep due to the fear. Even our farms, we go in fear.”

As a result of this intimidation and threat of attack by the suspected Fulani herdsmen, the economic life of the community has been paralysed.

“We are just struggling to survive. To further worsen the situation, whenever it is night, we don’t sleep till day break because of fear of the unknown.

“Even local carpenters that normally make brisk business here for making chairs for women, they cannot do it now because the women who normally buy the chairs don’t have the little money to buy again.

“Many of our women have been killed and even those that remain cannot freely go to the farm as they used to do to cultivate cash crops which usually contribute in moving the economy of the community.

“The yam farms we cultivated last year could not yield well because the time the incident happen was when we were supposed to weed from our yams.

“As a result of this, there is no yam in our community this year like it used to be. Food that we and our family will eat now in the community is a problem.

“Prior to this incident, some years back, you will see people coming from different parts of the country to buy yams in trailers  because we cultivate it in commercial quantity, but now, you cannot find any yam for sell here.

“We are hoping that this rainy season will be a good one for us and the ugly incident of last year will not repeat itself and we will have the enabling environment to freely cultivate our farms and revive our economic lives.”

He, however called on both the current and incoming government in the state to, as a matter of urgency attend to their security needs by sending some army officers to keep patrolling the village so as to scare the suspected Fulani herdsmen from the area.

“We are appealing to the government to provide security for us here,” he reiterated.

As a way of paying back to the current governor of Kaduna state- Ramalan Yero for abandoning them  at the time they needed his encouragement and support, the community leader said: “That is why in this our village, we all voted against the PDP. Our grouse is that the PDP-led government in the state abandoned us at the time we needed them most.

“When this ugly incident happened to us, they refuse to identify with us. That is why we all voted for the APC governorship candidate- Nasir el-Rufai, and thank God he won.

“We voted against the incumbent governor because of anger of his inability to sympathise with us at the time of our need.”

Effort to speak with the DPO in charge at the local government headquarters, were not fruitful as he was said to be out of town at the time Daily Independent visited.

However a junior police officer who pleaded not to be named confided on Daily Independent that the DPO could not sent some police to patrol the Kobir and other communities that are also living in fear of attack by the suspected Fulani herdsmen due to the insufficient number of personnel.

“How many are we here? The number of policemen we have here are not many let alone dividing ourselves and be patrolling the communities that were attacked by the suspected Fulani killers.

On why the police could not respond appropriately when the community notified them of the impending attack, the police officer simply said: “This issue is beyond me. Please wait for my ‘oga’ so that you can ask him this.”

However, some residents of the local government disclosed to Daily Independent that the Fulani herdsmen go around the in area with heavy and sophisticated weapons openly and that nobody dears to challenge them.

Most residents of the local government interviewed by Daily Independent therefore, appealed to both the police and military authorities to deployed their men and officers to protect the innocent  and harmless citizens of Sanga local government area, who according to them are facing traumatic conditions due to fear of attacks.