By PAUL ADAJI
The Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) has rejected in its entirety the report by a panel set up by the Nigerian Army to probe allegation of collusion of Nigerian soldiers in the pogrom going on in some parts of Taraba State, where Fulani herdsmen have allegedly been killing farmers and innocent villagers.
At a press conference in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday, JDAN National President Chief Bako Benjamin said the panel’s report, falls far short of expectations and can at best be described as a shoddy job fit for the waste bin.
He lamented that rather than give hope of justice, to the families of the innocent farmers and other villagers hacked down by the herdsmen, the Army merely engaged in “empty rhetoric” of setting up of panels to cleanse themselves of wrong doings, a practice, for which he said, they are becoming notorious.
According to him, the Nigerian Army yet again missed another opportunity to cleanse itself of allegations of gross abuse leveled against them not only by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma but by a number of other human rights organisations including Amnesty International (AI).
“The Nigerian army panel did a very poor and unprofessional job and wasted the opportunity to scribble their names in gold. The report is unacceptable to Jukun people and therefore it is hereby rejected in its entirety,” he said.
It was in response to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai’s remarks on the 10-member committee set up to probe former Defence Minister Maj.-Gen Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma’s allegation of military’s involvement in the pogrom going on in Taraba. Buratai had said there was no truth in the allegations, urging the people to have confidence in the soldiers posted to the area to defend them against the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
He wondered why the principal characters (Fulani herdsmen) accused of precipitating the crisis that gave birth to General Danjuma’s allegations was never mentioned in the report.
The panel, he further stated, almost completely avoided the main subject of the matter which is the attacks and killing of farmers and innocent villagers, but was addressing porous borders and past misunderstandings between brothers in a deliberate attempt to stir up tempers and portray Jukuns as historically troublesome.
“It is also curious that the panel deliberately refused to use a single material out of the hundreds of documented paper works, audio and video recordings of eye witnesses, community leaders and youth groups with shocking and gruesome evidences of ethnic cleansing and genocide in more than 20 villages across southern Taraba,” he said.
Benjamin said Amnesty International’s claims and conclusions against the Nigerian Army are not far-fetched. The Nigerian army must come to terms with the enormous responsibility that rest on their shoulders to keep this country united, it must also realise that it owes Nigerian citizens a duty to be unbiased and thoroughly professional under a democratic government. It must completely shun the temptation to play to the gallery.
According to him, Buratai’s defence has gone to confirm that it is increasingly likely that the Nigerian Army does not know where to draw the line between defending the nation and enforcing and controlling indiscipline within its ranks.