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Displaced Residents of Bassa Communities in Nasarawa State Beg President Tinubu To Assist Them Return To Home
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Displaced Residents of Bassa Communities in Nasarawa State Beg President Tinubu To Assist Them Return To Home

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…Insist Bassas Have No Militia Group As They Couldn’t Have Formed Vigilante Group While in Forced Exile

Residents of Bassa Communities of Toto Local Government Area (LGA) of Nasarawa State have called on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to come to their rescue and help them home return to their ancestral homes after six years of forced exile.

They faulted a comments credited to the state Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Sule, during a State security meeting held on Monday, 15th April 2024, where he “unequivocally mentioned that the Bassas have a Militia group, which is quite strange to the Bassas as there is no such group.”

They insisted that it was impossible for displaced residents to set up Vigilante group in their community while in exile, calling on the state government to ensure the rebuilding of destroyed Bassa homes in both Toto and Nasarawa LGAs.

Speaking at a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, Abuja, on Wednesday, the Vice Chairman of the Bassa Cultural & Development Union (BCDU), Nasarawa State Chapter, Mr. Mark Jere, said that the call became necessary as all efforts to press for their home return through the Nasarawa State Government and dialogue with their neighbours, the Igburas in the last six years, have not produced the desired result.

“Further to the said security meeting, the State Government birthed a “Penal Code (Proscription of Kungiyar Zaman Lafiya nomad Vigilante, Bassa Vigilante, Eggon Vigilante and other similar Organization) in Executive Order No1, 2024” still dragging the Bassas in denigrate indictment. Our curiosity on this Executive Order is: how could the Bassa who have been in force exile for precisely six (6) years now, form a Bassa Vigilante group?

“We wish to State in clear terms that the Bassa Community has nothing known as Bassa Militia and/or Bassa Vigilante group anywhere in the State or outside the State.

“We vehemently perceived that the Governor was misinformed by some of his handlers in his move toward a peaceful approach to resolve the conflict between the Egburas and Bassas.

“To put things in perspective, a wave of attacks were recently launched by yet to be identified individuals on Katakpa and Shegye Village areas, a situation which propelled the Nasarawa State Government to promulgate the said Executive Order in which it called for the disbanding and disarmament of some certain tribal vigilante groups in the State including the Bassas.

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“We, therefore, want to reiterate in an unambiguous terms that the Bassa Community of Toto LGA does not have any known and existing vigilante groups”.

According to the group, “to set the records straight, based on information of hearsays, the attacks carried out by the unknown individuals on Katakpa and Shegye Villages were reprisal attacks as a result of the complete burning down of certain shanty and makeshift camps which were erected by some of the Bassas who are in forced exile at Angbara, a border town with Nasarawa LGA for the purpose of cultivating their farmlands for the approaching 2024 farming season.

“It was the Angbara village attack by the Egbura hoodlums that snowballed into the present clashes in Katakpa and Shegye Villages.

“One major concern of the BCDU is that after these clashes erupted, security agents deployed to the area whose national duty is to provide security of lives and properties to all and sundry, directed all their might and weaponry on Bassa villages of Gbende and Tukuruwa in Nasarawa LGA on 6th and 8th of February 2024 respectively, Robi in Gadabuke Development Area on 9th of February 2024, and also Angbara razing them to ashes for committing no crime except for the fact that they are Bassas. Recently, a Bassa compound in Kampeni, a small village along Nasarawa – Toto road also met the same fate.

“From the episodes of the forgoing incidents, it has become brazenly clear that each time a conflict erupts between the Bassas and Egburas, some officers of the Nigerian Army and or Police are used against the Bassa Communities in order to subdue them under the influence of the Egburas.

“This has always been the case since the outbreak of the November 1997 – March 1998 pogrom on Bassa people up to the April 2018 and now the April 2024 Katakpa/Shegye clashes”, the residents alleged.

The group said that they wanted “to make it abundantly clear that we, the Bassa Community of Toto LGA do not support any form of armed struggles against our Egbura neighbors despite placing a forced exile on our people for the past six years. However, we wish to reiterate that for a lasting peace to be achieved, our Egbura neighbors must embrace the mantra of live and let live.

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“If only the Egburas had not attacked the Bassa farmers in Angbara, we wouldn’t have witnessed the present reprisal attacks on Katakpa and Shegye Villages. We want to also make it clear that we hold the Nigerian Army and Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja in very high esteem and wish to call on him to call his men to order and also set up a machinery to checkmate their security activities and operations across the nation as it relates to Nigerian citizens and their communities.

“The Bassas wouldn’t have been sacked into exile if the security deployed to manage the conflict had played their civic role without bias. Unfortunately, their taking sides with the Egburas helped in furthering the hegemony of the Egburas and sending the Bassa into exile.

“The last six years has been turbulent, catastrophic and disastrous for our people in exile, to such extent that some of them have to go about begging and or pay rents for lands to cultivate in order to grow crops to feed their families while their fertile farmlands lie fallow and some giving out to strangers and trespassers in exchange for money in their ancestral homeland by some Egbura individuals.

“In all these years of suffering and being abandoned by the Federal Government, State Government and the Local Government respectively; without the delivery of any form of PALLIATIVE or RELIEF MATERIALS to our people in exile, finally, we are happy to hear that the Nasarawa State Government under the Administration of His Excellency, Engr., A.A Sule has taken the bold step in the right direction by constituting a High Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of HRH Justice Sidi Mohammad Bage, the Emir of Lafia and the Chairman Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs and Emirs saddled with the responsibility of returning all the displaced persons across all the tribes, and to look into the immediate and remote causes of the Bassa/Egbura age-long conflicts and come up with recommendations for a lasting solution for peaceful coexistence between the warring tribes.”

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On behalf of the entire Bassa Community of Toto LGA, the BCDU commended Governor for taking “difficult but frantic step in a bid to resolve all outstanding disputes and disagreements between the Bassas and Egburas. History will remember you as the seasoned administrator and peacemaker who defied all odds to conquer and overcome the almost impossible.

“We pray and hope that you will achieve even more during your administration as Governor of Nasarawa State.”

Recommendations

The group recommended that:

Government should ensure immediate home return of the displaced Bassa people and other displaced persons; a step already taken by Government.

Government should ensure the rebuilding of the destroyed Bassa homes in both Toto and Nasarawa LGA’s.

Government should ensure adequate compensation and release of relief materials to the displaced and affected Bassa people.

Government should prevail on the Egbura Community to henceforth desist from the purported installations of Egbura Kinsmen as Village Heads in the already officially existing Bassa owned Village Areas of Katakpa, Shegye, Kanyehu and Uttu.

Government should disband the so-called vigilante in Toto LGA and allow for the inclusion of the Bassa people the moment they are fully Return Home.

The Government of A.A Sule should as a matter of urgency and inclusivity give meaningful political appointments to Bassa people so that we will not continue to see his government as an extension of the Egbura hegemony over the Bassa.

The State Government should ensure that the implicit embargo on the employment of Bassa people at both the LGA workforce and at the State be lifted.

The Nasarawa State Government should revisit the Penal Code (Proscription of Kungiyar Zaman Lafiya nomad Vigilante, Bassa Vigilante, Eggon Vigilante and other similar Organization) Executive Order No.1 2024 which came in force on 15th April, 2024, to exclude the purported Bassa Vigilante owing to the fact that there is no such vigilante group; and the Bassa who are in exile could not have formed a vigilante group in Nasarawa State.

By this world Press Conference we are calling on the Refugee Commissions, NGOs, and the International community to come to our help now and even when we eventually return to our native home land in the nearest future to enable us to start rebuilding our lives afresh.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Lies don’t set a people free. Why would the Bassa not say it as it is for once? They have forgotten that in this digital world, the evidences are available. They have not realized that even from the Bassa militias information has leaked out on every of their movements, operations and resolutions.

    Bassa, say the truth and it shall set you free.

  2. The Bassas are not serious. We have all the facts where they claimed the attacks. They forgot the mention killing the army.
    They are just deceiving themselves and think the Governor of Nasarawa didn’t know what he is doing.

Comments are closed.

Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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