A group of various ethnic nationalities in Taraba states under the aegis of Save Our Souls Group (SOSG) has written a letter to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, demanding justice in the killings of their people by suspected herdsmen.
The SOSG gave Osinbajo a 24-hour ultimatum to bring leaders of Miyetti Allah Cow Breeders Association (MACBAN) to book or face a court action.
They said they have also mobilised ten senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to pursue a suit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, the Netherlands.
They said herdsmen have committed more acts of genocide against their people over the years.
The petition was signed by Othman Dan Ali, president of SOSG, and Helen Adi, secretary of the group.
“While appreciating your commitment to peaceful coexistence, we are strongly moved to write you sir and seek redress for many years in which we have lost countless souls and food items on our farm lands. We have lost villages and ancestral heritage,” the letter read.
“The graves of our fathers, mothers and great grand parents have been desecrated and ravaged.
“Our women and children have been slaughtered. Our farms have become grazing fields, taken over by cows.
“And all the while sir, your government have behaved as if our lives do not count. In Benue state alone, as Governor Samuel Ortom recently said, over 6000 lives have perished in the last few years now. They were killed by Fulani. If that is not genocide, we wonder what else it is.
“In our own state Taraba, we have lost uncountable numbers of Tivs, Jukuns and Kutebs in repeated attacks by Fulani.”
The group added that ethnic groups can no longer watch as the highest authority in the land pretends as if non-Fulani lives do not count.
They claimed that the federal government had taken swift steps when Fulani cried out but the reverse is the case in their own time.
“But the presidency has never bothered to send delegations to our villages to ascertain these pogroms carried out by Fulani. We have thus reached the conclusion that only Fulani lives matter to the federal government and only their distress call attract any presidential attention,” the letter continued.
“Our own lives are worthless since we are hunters and farmers. We are no longer welcome to be part of the union. We are not represented at the national level or the presidency.
“Your Excellency, we have reached these conclusions because of how the federal government recently responded swiftly when our Fulani brothers cried out that they were at the receiving end of these senseless and condemnable killings.
“We have never seen such an overwhelming presence of federal might. Our leader, the Governor of Taraba state, Arc. Darius Ishaku, has been harassed, summoned and queried by the presidency after the Sarduana crisis.
“This is the same Governor who cried out eight (8) times for the presidency to come to the state’s aid when Fulani over ran Ussa, Takum and Donga local governments.
“The federal government delegation to Sarduana local government was only concerned about the Fulani who died in the sad and regrettable fracas while not even mentioning the Mambilla and Kakas who died. Life is life according to all religions. No life is higher than another.
“We are therefore calling for a Presidential Panel of Inquiry to investigate the killings at Bali, Ussa, Lau, Wukari, Takum and Donga where Fulani herdsmen took many lives.
“Forgive us Sir, but while we await your response, we have concluded with our lawyers to begin arrangement for a suit to be sent to ICC for all the atrocities committed in our land.
“We have also decided to lead nationwide protests of all our people across the country (and even in Diaspora) to save us from annihilation.
“Your Excellency, we urge you to take these calls seriously. We wish to see the same swiftness in response we saw recently when Fulani cried out.
“Be rest assured of our commitment to peace and lawful existence but we want you to tell us if we should just sit back and watch our people get slaughtered like chickens.”