Fulani / Atakar War: How Poisoned Cows Sparked Killings, Arson On Uphill Villages

Like a little bush fire turned into a ravaging inferno, the discovery of two dead Fulani cows,allegedly poisoned in Zankan, an uphill village in Fadan Atakad Chiefdom, Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, ignited a bloodbath in Atakad villages in Kaduna and Plateau States in the past three weeks.
Alhaji Ibrahim S Abdullahi, Kaduna State Chairman of Miyeti Allah Kautal Hori Socio-Cultural Association – Fulani umbrella body – told Sunday Vanguard that the Fulani considers the cow as the equivalent of cash deposit in bank, and would do anything to take vengeance anytime his cow is hurt.
The national body of Miyeti Allah Kautal Hori Socio-Cultural Association was headed by the deposed Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki.
Members of the House of Representatives from Southern Kaduna wore forlorn looks last Wednesday when they visited one of the refugee camps holding some 10,000 Atakad refugees displaced from the violence and assured them of help and justice, while asking for calm.
The Atakad people live on lush plains and fertile valleys served by perennial stream high up the Atakar hills, that form part of the Kagoro mountains linking the Jos plateau.Unlike most southern Kaduna people, the Atakad are known to take dry season farming seriously, thus making them relatively prosperous among other tribal groupings of the area.
Also rich in fodder for grazing, Fulani nomads find the Atakad hills very attractive, and there had been cordial symbiotic relationship between the two groups as long as some of the oldest Atakad elders could recall to Sunday Vanguard, until the last three weeks.
On Monday, the Chairman of Kaura LGA, Mr Kumai L J Badung spoke to Sunday Vanguard at the refugee camp of Fadan Atakad on how the incident started. Said Badung:”There was a young man, Aboi Stephen (21), in Mafan, who had been complaining that some cattle had been grazing on his dry season farm. I was told that the cattle destroyed a good portion of the farm, and that there was no end in sight to the destruction.
”About two weeks ago, two Fulani cows were found dead, allegedly of poisoning. The owner of the cows was said to have publicly warned Aboi of the grave consequences of his action. I don’t know if it was Aboi that poisoned the cows, or even if they died of poisoning. ”Then one day, Aboi was found missing. A search by the villages found his corpse.

He had deep machete cuts all over his body, and his throat was slit.”Upon that discovery, women and children mobilised to the palace of the chief of Atakar, Tobias Nkom-Wada, and accused him of inviting the Fulani into Atakar land in the first place. They vandalised the palace.
The chief is now living in his personal house in Tachire, around here. ”On seeing what the women and children did, the Fulani started moving out en masse to their kins in Kanawuri areas of Plateau State, which also has some number of Atakar speaking villages.”On their way, they shot a young man that same day in Kanawuri area.
That pitched them against the Atakar in Plateau State and they fought for days. The fighting led to the burning of some Atakar villages. The affected ones had to move to this local government, where we opened the first refugee camp for them at Mifi. But we have closed it and merged it with the other two because it was vulnerable.
”When the army moved in last week, the Fulanis left Kanawuri in Plateau State back to this place with their arms.”Last Saturday, by 3pm they attacked Mafan, Zalang, Taliki and Zangkan villages up those hills, while able bodied men had gone to the farms or the market.
They went on unchallenged till Sunday morning. When the army arrived the scene on Sunday morning, the officer in charge told me that they counted 19 bodies. All the houses in the villages had been burnt.”They made no arrest, because the attackers had left before the came.”Right now, soldiers have escorted some men back to the villages to bury the dead.”We have not less than 5,000 refugees now, and that is a huge challenge to us.
The governor of Kaduna State, Alh. Muktar Ramalan, has done very much and is still doing more to help”.But events later revealed that the casualty was higher than the one given by the Council Chairman, when the House of Reps members came to find out what transpired.
The chief of Atakad chiefdom, Chief Tobais Nkom_Wada, while receiving the lawmakers, led by Hon Godfrey Gaya (Jaba/Zangon Kataf Federal Constituency), corroborated the story of Badung, but added that the death toll had shot to 28, the four villages left in ruins with the Fulani fully occupying them as their captured territory.”We gave 28 bodies mass burial, with the victims being mostly women and children.
The Fulani have fully taken over the villages. No one can enter,” he said. ”Now, the rains have started. Some have lost family members and are living as refugees. Yet they cannot go back and farm, after their entire food crops have been burnt. Next year will be terrible.”I am pleading with government to send securitymen so that we can go back and start our lives all over again.”As Christians, I call on my people to forgive, and keep living in peace with the Fulani like we have ever done ever since”.
The National President, Atakad Community Development Association, Mr. Ishaya Kudien told the visitors that the refugee figure had increased.”We heard the refugee was given as 5,000. That is far below the truth. As at yesterday, we have about 100, 000 refugees from the violence. Many are living with relations, some are staying with family friends, and some have relocated, more have joined the camps,” he said.
”There may be outbreak of epidemic, because everyday we take dozens of children for emergency treatment because of poor hygiene and feeding here.”We need relief materials and we want to go back home. We will always forgive, but we want government to help us get back our villages from the Fulani”.
Other members of the House of Reps from southern Kaduna were: Hon. Gideon L. Gwani (Kaura Federal Constituency), Hon. Adams Jagaba Adams (Kachia/Kagarko Constituency), Hon. Simon Arabo (Kauru Federal Constituency) and Hon. Shehu N. Garba ( Jema’a/Sanga Constituency).Meanwhile, Kaduna State Chairman of Miyeti Allah Kautal Hori Socio-Cultura Association, Abdullahi, spoke to Sunday Vanguard on behalf of the Fulani.”I was told that the corpse of a mentally deranged man was found in a bush in one of the Atakad villages. The Atakad youth attack the Fulani, and burnt their huts.
They even burnt the palace of their chief, who is peace loving man.”I am told that 20 Fulani were killed, and that the Fulani cannot go to the hills to bury their dead.”Let me tell you something that many people don’t know about us the Fulani. We don’t have bank accounts.
The cattle you see the Fulani with, represent his bank account. Therefore, if you hurt any of his cows, he can go to the end of the world and hide the remaining cows, then he will surely come back for vengeance.”But, we don’t want such crisis.
The Atakad and the Fulani have lived for decades and have even inter-married. It is sad that this is happening. I am still making more findings, and I will let you know next time”.
Source: Vanguard

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