June 30, 2018 | Vanguard News | Marie-Therese Nanlong
When the alarm was raised, many thought it was false, some were complacent, calling it an ethnic crisis. But bit by bit, the fear became a reality; the subtle attacks which began over a decade ago have seen native communities in Plateau State taken over by invading herders.
The natives, mostly Berom by tribe watched helplessly as their homes were occupied, the people killed and farmlands taken over and in some cases, the original names of the villages changed. They wandered if their children would ever return to their ancestral land.
It will be recalled that the immediate past governor of the state, Jonah Jang, a Berom by tribe; the Member representing Riyom/Barkin Ladi in the National Assembly, Istifanus Gyang; the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba; all Berom Socio-cultural groups especially its umbrella body, Berom Educational and Cultural Organization, BECO and other tribes in Bassa local government area among others had consistently appealed to the Federal Government to tackle land occupation by foreign herders but all entreaties were ignored.
According to a document obtained by Saturday Vanguard, showing the various attacks in the area, over 54 communities have been taken over by the invaders which many of the occupied communities renamed. The occupied communities include “Rotchun (aka Rafin Acha), Dankum (renamed “Mahanga”), Hywa (renamed”Lugere”), Fass (renamed “Tafawa”), Davwak, Chwelnyap, Lyoho Dakar, and Angwan Dalyop which were all attacked Between September 7 and 10, 2001 with the original inhabitants displaced.
Others are, “Janda, attacked on 8th February, 2010; Darin, attacked on 28th April, 2013;, Shong I, Shong II; Rakweng; Dashugu; Diyan-Hei; Maseh (renamed “Lugel”) all attacked on 29th June, 2012. It’s worth noting that it was in this same community that Senator Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Fulani, a legislator representing Barkin Ladi Local Government Area were killed. Also occupied by the invaders are Kampwas; Kasa; Zere; Ninja-Hei; Seh; Nicha; Pwabeduk; Hyai; Kufang; Sharu; Dogo; Ningon; Rantis and Angio which were all sacked and occupied on the 7th of July, 2012. Kachin community was sacked on the 7th of November, 2012.