The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on Sunday said the arbitrary arrest and persecution of its members by the police and the Takum Council Chairman, Hon. Shiban Tikari, was inimical to peace.
The Northeast Zonal Chairman of the Association, Alhaji Mafindi Danburam, stated this at a press conference in Jalingo.
According to him, some Miyetti Allah members had on Wednesday, March 14 went to Bantaje Cattle Market to sell their cows and while on their way back, 52 of them were arbitrarily arrested by the police under the instruction of Takum Council Chairman, Hon. Shiban Tikari, and were later transferred to the state police command in Jalingo.
“We have visited the command and demanded for reasons for their arrest, charges against them and the complainant statement which have not being made available to us,” he said.
The zonal chairman called on the Inspector General of Police, IGP. Ibrahim Idris to intervene on the matter.
“We are really in the hands of elements of destruction who believe that a Fulani man has no right to live and enjoy his right as a citizen in Taraba State.
“Takum is now a no-go area for us. Our people are being killed, their animals maimed but nobody has been arrested for these crimes”, he said.
But when contacted, Taraba State Commissioner of Police, Mr. David Akinremi said 54 persons were arrested following information the police received that there was a mass movement of people suspected to be the perpetrators of some violent attacks at Bawe, Panshen, Muji 1 and Muji 2 villages in Takum local government area.
He explained that his men acting on intelligence intercepted four vehicles loaded with herdsmen, adding that some natives alleged that the suspects had positioned themselves to launch an attack in the area.
Akinremi said he ordered his men to bring the suspects to the state command in Jalingo for interrogation to determine their innocence on the allegation.
The commissioner said even though nothing incriminating was found on the suspects, the police had already conveyed 41 of them to Kashimbilla who claimed to have cows domiciled in the area for further investigation.
“About 41 of the suspects claimed they have cows at Kashimbilla. So, we need to verify if there is any evidence that they took cows to Bantaje for sale. We may probably find out from the native and middlemen if they had performed any transaction with them.
“Five of the suspects confessed to be cattle rustlers, while six were believed to be among the perpetrators of the violent attacks in Takum and it’s environs in recent times,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman Takum local government, Hon. Shiban Tikari told journalists that as a council Chairman, he was duty bound to report suspected criminals to the security operatives for necessary action.
Takari said the number of herdsmen spotted, coupled with the fact that they were not grazing cows, raised suspicion because herdsmen normally troop into the area with their cattle on their way to Kashimbilla around November and December not in March, more so that we are currently being attacked by herdsmen.
“The recent attacks on Panshen, Bawe, Muji 1 and 2 villages, and the information at our disposal that marauders were planning more attacks in Mudi, Tati and Manya made us to be security conscious. So, there my alarm was in order. We must as leaders make efforts to promote peace and not give criminals room to operate,” he said.
It could be recalled that the recent crisis between Fulani and natives in Takum and Ussa LGAs as well as Yanghtu Special Development area killed seven people while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.