BASSA CULTURAL AND DEVELOPMENT UNION (BCDU)
THE REIGN OF TERROR IN BASSA LAND; STOP THIS GENOCIDE!
14th May 2018.
1. Gentlemen of the press, we welcome you to this all-important press briefing.
2. The Bassa people who are found in parts of Benue, FCT, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger states are peace loving people who have lived in peace and harmony with all their neighbours in all the places they live except the Egburas in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa state and recently, the Egburas in Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi state.
3. It is incumbent on us as the over-all body of the Bassa Nation to tell the world about the reign of terror and massacre unleashed on the Bassa People in the ongoing war in Toto Local Government Area Nasarawa state. Sadly, it does appear the government and all relevant bodies have strangely remained mute on the issue.
4. It is over two weeks now since the crisis in Toto began, and the Bassa people have been consistently attacked by the Egbura hired mercenaries who parade themselves in military uniforms. These mercenary gang are often mistaken as military men by our people who as it were ought to provide security, but are used by Egbura militia to wreak havoc on the Bassa.
5. It is on record that during these attacks, the Egbura militias who are practically led by these mercenaries in Military uniforms from behind burn Bassa houses and loot their property at will. Most Bassa villages have been invaded and completely razed down by the Egburas using these men in military uniforms.
6. We note with grave concern that military men who came supposedly to keep peace are now taking sides, they now go about chasing, shooting and killing our people in their settlements and allowing the Egburas a field day. The scenario is worrisome and gives serious doubts in the minds of our people and indeed the general public as to the true status of the supposed deployed military in Bassa Communities in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. We are constrained to believe that there are clear elements of bias which can be attributed to connivance and collusion between the Egburas and the law enforcement agents to completely extinct the Bassas. As we speak this genocide is ongoing in Ugya with the Military leading the attacks against the Bassa people.
7. There is no gainsaying that the role and responsibilities of the Military and every law enforcement agencies in situations like this is that of neutrality geared towards restoring peace law and order, but that have unfortunately remained in the realm of wish rather than reality. We are peaceful and law abiding people, with absolute trust in the institutions of authority, the Bassa people have high hopes in the military and other law enforcement agents and believes with good intentions are able to bring about peace and order.
8. The military presence in Toto LGA ought to have been a sigh of relief to all parties but sadly not the case, our people are treated in high handedness like rebels and common criminals while the Egburas are given preferential treatment. As we speak, there is complete restriction of movement for the Bassas only, we have never heard of a restriction of movement order that is targeted at a particular race or tribe alone especially in a communal clash as this, the situation is bizarre.
9. We have it on good authority that in all parts of Toto LGA, especially roads adjourning to other parts of FCT from Toto town to Abaji, and Kogi LGA is heavily mounted on roads blocks by the Egburas who at the point of sighting the Bassa, either pursued, shot or killed the Bassa at the supervision of some of this mercenaries is Military Uniform. The Egburas are going about with free movement to and from Toto, Umaisha and in all the villages carting away properties and food produce of the Bassas in their bans and in some cases further setting the bans are house ablaze without any confrontation or hindrance by the supposed military and security agents.
10. It is on record that on the 2nd of May, 2018, despite the perceived government security presence in Toto town, all houses belonging to the Bassa people were completely razed down by the militia at the supervision of its leaders. These are verifiable facts.
11. We are calling on the world to come to the aid of the Bassa people and save us from the conspiracy that is now playing out. Notwithstanding, we are yet urging the government to properly investigate these claims and ensure anyone found culpable in influencing the violation of the rules of engagement of the military is punished.
12. It is ordinarily believed that by now the crisis should have come to an end but the trouble continue to fester due to the care free attitude regrettably shown on the side of the authorities to nib the matter in the bud.
THE GENESIS OF THE CRISIS:
13. It was on the 22nd of April, 2018 when the Egburas were reported to have attacked the town of Kpanche in Bassa LGA of Kogi State. The paramount ruler of the town (Kpanche) narrowly escaped death but not less than six persons lost their lives in the attack. Unknown to the general public some Egbura field militia commanders from Umaisha in Toto Local Government of Nasarawa state were said to have participated in the invasion of Kpanche town and were neutralized by the military. This incident was widely reported and the Military Command in Kogi State issued a press statement to that effect.
14. The Egburas on the other hand having heard that their leaders have been ”neutralized” by the Military planned a reprisal attack on the Bassa in Toto LGA who did not know what happened in Bassa LGA of Kogi state. On the same Sunday, 22nd April 2018, the Egbura Kidnapped and killed two young Bassa boys who had gone to the farm at Sogene, a village near Umaisha. The children belonging to same parent Mr Moses Gunu were returning to Ugya after the farm work, they stood by the road including a woman who was also going to ugya. The driver asked them to pay N300 which the two boys paid but the other woman couldn’t pay as she had lesser amount. The woman who witnessed the incident narrated the story how the driver rather than driving towards Ugya took a U-turn to Umaisha, the boys were never seen again.
15. The Kidnap of these boys was reported to local authorities and security agencies in Toto LGA including the IMC Chairman of Toto LGA Mallam Nuhu Dauda. The paramount ruler of the area, The Ohimege Opanda and the Toto Divisional Police Officer were also contacted. These authorities (especially the Police) went to Umaisha to investigate the matter and yet, could not secure the release of the kidnaped victims. These victims – Ephraim Moses Gunu and Manaseh Moses Gunu – have not been found till date and are therefore presumed to have been murdered.
16. While still in the quagmire of these missing boys the Egbura militia attacked Sebu a Bassa village on Monday, 23rd April, 2018. Subsequent they went on a killing spree to Kpana another Bassa settlement.
17. By 5.30am on Tuesday, 24th April, 2018, news filtered into Ugya that the Egbura militia had attacked the interior Bassa villages of Sebu and Kpana. Naturally, (as a self-preservation measure) Bassa residents of Ugya began to make concerted efforts to exit the town in order to preserve their lives. These attempts were unfortunately blocked by the Egbura who mounted road blocks along the major highway leading from Umaisha to Toto. At one of the road blocks in Ugya town, the Egbura militia hacked and killed a Bassa man named Josiah Musa. We are not against lawful road blocks aimed at curtailing further spread of violence, but such measures should not be targeted at certain group or tribe it must be done and seen to be done in all fairness not as in the current situation we have so far highlighted.
THE PERSONAE DRAMATIS OF THE CRISIS:
18. The most shocking component of this crisis is the fact that the traditional rulers as well as the political office holders from this Local Government Area have kept mum from the inception of this crisis to date giving us the impression that they could be responsible for this genocide since they are all of the Egbura extraction. These leaders in the persons of: Arc. Ja’afaru Mohammed-Ibrahim – currently a member of the House of Representatives he is an Egbura man, representing Toto/ Nasarawa Federal Constituency, Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi – current Speaker Nasarawa State House of Assembly Hon. Saidu Galadima – current Member, Nasarawa State House of Assembly representing Toto/Gadabuke Constituency. He is the Chairman of the House Committee on local government and chieftaincy affairs, Hon. Nuhu Dauda, is presently the Interim Management Committee Chairman of Toto local government. They are expected to have made strong statements condemning the killings and arson but rather in their full glare the burning of Bassa Houses in Toto town, Ugya and other major Bassa settlements in broad day light. The Ohimege of Opanda, Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, the traditional ruler of Umaisha and the chairman traditional council Toto Local Government has also refused to speak as a father. Hence the crisis perpetuates.
19. For emphasis, we wish to reiterate that beyond the attacks, killing and sacking of Bassa and their villages, all the roads leading to Toto, Ugya, Umaisha, and Ayewawa are currently being blocked and manned by the Egbura militia claiming to be vigilante groups who stop and search vehicles as well as motorcycles thereby killing anyone identified to be of the Bassa extraction. As at the time of writing, over 20 Bassa men and women have been killed on these road blocks in the past seven (7) days. This callous act must stop!
20. These militias have found their way into Koton Karfe, Tawari and Gegu axis in Kogi LGA of Kogi State were Bassa people are murdered in cold blood on daily basis via these road blocks.
EXTENSION OF THE CRISIS BY EGBURA
21. The current war in Toto is a replica of what happened in the past especially in 1997 when the Bassa were sent into forced exile. The Egbura believe they are rich, well connected and have military personnel to wreak havoc and go scout free. But it is imperative to note that from time immemorial the Egbura have been the cause of every crisis in Toto LGA.
22. We wish to draw the attention of the world to the event of 2014 when the Ohiogba of Mozum, Khalid A. Bukar made unprovoked but very inciting statements about the Bassa people which culminated into unwarranted but God-revealing outburst on his verified facebook account where he claimed that the Egbura of Mozum were superior to the Bassa people and further claimed that the Bassa people are nothing in terms of resources to fight war; in his words “who then is the Bassa Kwomu? They could not conquer the little one of panda in Toto LGA even when a Bassa Kwomu was a chairman in Toto.” He was referring to the 1997 genocidal activities they carried out in Toto Local Government.
23. In consonance with our position as presented herebefore B.K.M. Waters while exploring the riverine areas within Toto LGA in 1915 in his report made the following remarkable observation about the Egburas:
“If there is any crisis between the Bassa and Egbura in Umaisha and Toto districts, nine out of ten troubles are caused by the Egbura”.
24. From the foregoing it is clear that the Egbura have the legendary history of trouble making, growing into a militia group was more like a natural occurrence for them.
25. Gentlemen of the press, it is instructive to note here that, there are clandestine moves by the egburas and their leaders to attach religion in the ongoing crisis. This is no religious crisis but an act of ethnic cleansing targeted at the Bassa people, we condemn it.
, Our Clarion Call:
1. Unbiased Security personnel to be deployed to Toto, to dismantle road blocks, stop incessant attacks on the Bassa and guarantee free flow of movement to all and sundry.
2. A Judicial panel of inquiry to be set-up with immediate effect.
3. Meeting of stake-holders from both Bassa and Egbura should be held as quickly as possible.
4. A Military Base should be established between Toto and Umaisha axis to checkmate these constant unwarranted attacks by the militia.
5. The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria His Excellency President Muhamadu Buhari, international communities, Donor Agencies, NGOs, NEMA, SEMA as well as well meaning individuals to quickly come to the aide of our people who have been rendered refugees in their own land.
6. His Execellency Alh. Tanko Al Makura, Governor of nasarawa State should visit Toto LGA with immediate effect and invite the two warring parties for a dialogue.
7. Before the Bassa home return, government should set up IDP camps for the refugees, where the governor and relevant agencies will visit forthwith.
26. As a body we have confidence in the government and trust that drastic and appropriate measures will be taken to end this senseless killing of our people.
27. We also wish to stress here that we are peace loving people and will do all that it takes to ensure that peace is restored in the LGA but any attempt to exile the Bassa people from Toto LGA by the Egburas will be resisted with everything it may require in accordance to law. We a right to be protected; It is our land.
28. May God restore peace to our Land.
29. Long Live Bassa Nation!
30. Long Live BCDU!!
31. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
32. Thank you all.
National Secretary . National Publicity Secretary.