From Jude Owuamanam, Jos

A coalition of ethnic nationalities under the aegis of the Atakar, Berom, Irigwe, Mwaghavwul, and Ron Youths Associations, in conjunction with the Coalition of Plateau Indigenous Youth Bodies, has raised the alarm over the forceful displacement and annexation of over 151 indigenous hamlets, villages, and communities, as well as land grabbing in Plateau State by the Fulani.

In a press briefing held at the NUJ Press Centre in Jos on Monday, the group expressed disappointment over the lack of response from various levels of government regarding their plight. The annexed communities, they said, are scattered across Bassa, Bokkos, Riyom, Barkin Ladi, and Mangu local government areas.

The text of the briefing, read by Chairman of Indigenous Youths, Mr. Paul Dekete, alongside other tribal leaders, stated: “In view of the unsatisfactory and feeble responses so far received from all levels of Government in Nigeria, the Atakar, Berom, Irigwe, Mwaghavwul and Ron Youths Associations in conjunction with the Coalition of Plateau Indigenous Youths Bodies are constrained to draw attention of the public and, especially, International Community through this Press Conference on the alarming and unacceptable loss of ancestral lands as well as the denial of access to farmlands and mining sites currently being suffered by the customary landowners in the State.”

The group accused Fulani militants of carrying out attacks and killings in hamlets, villages, and communities, intimidating and displacing native inhabitants, disrupting their livelihoods, and paving the way for the occupation of their lands. This, they said, creates “no-go” areas for the indigenous people in the 21st century.

They highlighted a strong connection between the areas where their people have suffered the worst forms of displacement and denial of access to the rich natural and mineral resources of those locations.

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“It’s common knowledge that hamlets and villages in Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Bokkos Mangu and Riyom Local Government Areas are richly endowed with resources such as favourable weather conditions, natural tourist sites, fertile soils, water bodies, Cassaterite, Columbite and so many other minerals,” the statement read.

The group pointed out the rapidly changing economic and occupational demographics in the occupied territories, citing the Gashish District of Barkin Ladi LGA, where the Fulani have taken over economic activities, displacing native farmers. They also highlighted the exploitation and domination of the people in local produce markets and transport businesses in and around the Gashish District.

“It’s quite provoking to imagine that the foundation of churches that were destroyed by these terrorist elements have overnight been reconstructed as Mosques to the utter disregard of the Fundamental rights of the displaced people,” the statement said.

They cited specific examples, including Rankum (Mahanga) in Jol, Ranchos, and Kak in Sopp, all in Riyom Local Government Area, where churches were destroyed and replaced with mosques.

The statement concluded by stating that over 151 hamlets and villages have been “annexed” or effectively occupied by Fulani militants, bandits, or terrorists in the aforementioned local government areas. They provided a list of the affected areas for independent verification.

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