We note with utmost concern an open letter to the Executive Governor of Plateau state, Da Jonah David Jang alleging criminal war of terror of the Langtang Tarok on Wase supposedly written by nine persons representing various ethnic groups in Wase Local Government Area. The said open letter was published in the Daily Trust newspaper of Friday September 13, 2013 from pages 46 to 47. Any critical and discerning mind would not bother to respond to the jaundiced and puerile arguments canvassed therein. It is important however to note the point that the Langtang Taroks are not and have no plan to be in conflict with any group from Wase LGA. The wild allegation of criminal war of terror of the Langtang Tarok on Wase is therefore a figment of imagination of the writers of the open letter. The conflict in Wase is between the Tarok of Wase and a coalition of other ethnic groups with the Fulanis as the arrow head. We want to understand the meaning of the caption of the write up to mean advance warning of possible attack against the Langtang Taroks. The Langtang Taroks have consistently maintained dignified silence and calm in respect of the unfolding conflict situation in Wase.However, if the frontier of the conflict is extended to cover Langtang North and South Local Government Areas, we must defend ourselves against unprovoked aggression. For now, we will resist any unreasonable attempt to pull us into the conflict in Wase. We view the jaundiced open letter as a futile effort to justify the sinister agenda of ‘Wase banda Yergam’ of the Hausa/Fulani elements in Wase LGA. The gross misrepresentation and misconception of historical facts were carefully orchestrated to mislead gullible minds into believing the impression being created. First and foremost, reference to CL. Temple’s work on Tarok was mischievously quoted out of context. The writers have demonstrated abysmal ignorance of the fact that there were the Hill and the Plain Taroks as accurately captured by the work of Temple. The claim that “the Tarok at first recognized Sarkin Pankshin as their head,” was applicable to the Hill Tarok and not the Plain Tarok and this essentially for administrative convenience.
Reference to some settlements bearing Hausa names by the writers as basis of ownership of such settlements is the outlandish strategy of the Hausa expansionist agenda. Sociologically speaking, majority ethnic nationalities, especially in a plural society like Nigeria always exercise undue socio-cultural influences on minority groups because of their capacity to penetrate minority enclaves without corresponding capacity of minority groups to counter penetrate them and exercise similar socio-cultural influences. The naming of settlements in Hausa as alleged by the writers of the open letter cannot constitute scientific basis of claiming ownership of such places. Therefore Tarok settlements such as Kadarko, Wadata Garga, Mabudi, bearing Hausa names is not any basis for claiming ownership of these places by the Hausa in Wase LGA. If this were to be the basis of claiming ownership of settlements in Plateau state, Barkin-Ladi, Dogo Nahawa, Angwan Doki, etc. would belong to the Hausa people. The Taroks of Wase who are predominantly settled in these aforementioned places cannot by any stretch of imagination by considered as settlers because they preceded any other ethnic group in the chronology of arrivals. Reference to the Wase Native Authority Rules of 1958 as instrument and basis for labeling the Tarok in these settlements as settlers is illogical, anachronistic and a misnomer because they were there long before the coming of Hassan Madaki from Bauchi Province in 1820. Colonial records indicate that the Tarok people were in Wase as far back as 1760. This pretty much was confirmed by AB Mathew, the then Divisional Officer of Shendam Division in 1930 when he remarked that “1760 is given as the date of the settlement of the Jukun at Wase Tofa and the Yergams (Tarok) are supposed to have been in the area before then.” This historical account negates the sterile efforts of the writers to reconstruct history to provide a context for referring to the Tarok as settlers in Wase LGA. This status fits them more than the Tarok people who arrived Wase much earlier than the Hausa/Fulani. Strangely enough, even the Jukun people as represented by one of the writers, Musa Umar Mavo are also victims of this historical amnesia. The Tarok and the Jukun had coexisted in Wase for a considerable length of time before the arrival of Hassan Madaki in 1820. This account is copiously supported by Ames GG in the Gazetteers of the Northern Provinces Vol. iv from pages 206-209 “the Taroks then called Yergam were in contact with Jukun who lived in Wase and had settled in Wase before the coming of Madaki Hassan, the Fulani Muslim from Bauchi in 1820.” It is therefore utterly fallacious and misleading the claim that the Tarok people moved to Wase in the 20th Century. One would have expected the writers of the open letter to show some measure of integrity in the presentation of their views on some of the issues they are ill equipped to comment.
Genesis of the current crisis in Wase LGA.
As we have alluded to in the foregoing paragraphs, the Hausa/Fulani and other ethnic groups that have subscribed to the Islamic faith have hatched a satanic plan to drive out the Tarok people from Wase LGA. The enterprising, peaceful and good sense of responsibility of the Taroks of Wase has never endeared them to the oppressive, unjust and exploitative emirate system in Wase. The emirate would have been much more accommodating, tolerant and friendly if the Taroks of Wase were to be subservient, indolent, unprogressive and without uncommon sense of industry. As it is, the numerical strength of the Taroks of Wase is incomparable with any other ethnic group in Wase. In addition, their rising socio-economic and political profile in Wase has made them the target of envy of the Hausa/Fulani for a very long time. Lacking what to do to catch up and possibly overtake the Taroks of Wase, the Hausa/Fulani in concert with some of their cronies, constructed an exclusive platform with only Muslims as members and the critical target were the Taroks of Wase LGA. In 1996 to be precise when Local Government Elections on non party basis were to be conducted nationwide, they came up with the ‘Al-Ummah Wase’ as an alternative platform for mobilization for the elections and their sinister slogan was “Wase banda Yergam” which literally means ‘Wase without the Tarok.’The primary objective was to deny Tarok representation in the Local Government Council. It was this seed of discord sown by the Al-Ummah in 1996 that germinated and led to the 2002 to 2005 conflict between the Taroks of Wase and the Hausa/Fulani and their cronies. On Thursday 4th July, 2002, the then Emir, Dr. Abdullahi Haruna had met with some Tarok elders in his palace on his invitation and told them he went to Wadata and saw more than 1,000armed Fulani militia. He further told them that he was opposed to the use of soldiers and police to quell the civil disturbances as according to him, the Fulani would only listen to the ‘Lamido.’ Few hours after the Emir turned down the use of security agencies to stop the killings which started in Wadata, the carnage erupted in Wase town and within a twinkle of an eye, all Tarok houses in Wase numbering over 200 were burnt and heavily looted and many of them brutally killed including some of the elders with whom the Emir had held a meeting with them earlier. Among those killed were: Hon. Gabriel Zhimwang, Hon. Nimvyap Napgang, Hon. Ishaya Kumfa, Police Inspector Danjuma Laven, Mr. Binven Lar, Mr. Mamjing Gwaram,etc. Emboldened by this development, the Fulani militia launched attacks on Tarok people in all villages in Wase LGA leading to massive displacement of Tarok settlements with the exception of Kadarko.
We have gone down memory lane to emphasize the point that what is happening in Wase LGA is a continuation of the unfinished agenda which started in 2002 by the late Emir’s son who succeeded him. He has vowed to complete what his late father started but was unable to push it through to its logical conclusion. The use of Fulani is deliberate so as to create the impression that it is a brawl between the Taroks of Wase and the Fulanis. Indeed, the identities of the writers of the open letter have further revealed more actors in the conflict than the hapless Fulani who are being used as fodder. The creation of Kardako Chiefdom on the recommendation of the Emir of Zazzau and which was further confirmed by the Plateau Peace Conference in 2004 and implemented by the then Governor Joshua C. Dariye which brought the conflict to an end, is what the Wase Emirate is not comfortable with. Brigadier General JN Temlong (Rtd) had emphasid on the strategic significance of the Kadarko Chiefdom to the restoration of durable and sustainable peace in Wase but was mischievously quoted out of context as saying that “the reasons for the current spate of attacks by the Langtang Tarok against the multiple ethnic groups in Wase (Fulani, Jukun, Jarawa, Bogghom, etc) is the demand for Chiefdom to be created for the Tarok out of the lands of Wase. He further enunciated that there would be no peace in Wase if the Chiefdom is not created and indeed there is no peace and yet he is walking free.” This was a deliberate misrepresentation of the position canvassed by General JN Temlong to suit their ill motive or a consequence of their poor comprehension of what the peace loving General said. What the General said was that the ill-advised dissolution of the Kadarko Chiefdom should be restored since it was a product of a peace parley and was created in response to the crisis at the time. As we have said earlier, the Langtang Tarok are not in conflict with either the Hausa/Fulani or any other ethnic group in Wase LGA. The conflict is between the Tarok of Wase and their Hausa/Fulani neighbours. The Tarok people are generally peace loving, disciplined, self motivated and with uncommon sense of industry who would not get involved in this kind of brawl unless they are provoked. They are the Israelites of Nigeria as they are a minority surrounded by some hostile neighbours and yet remain formidable and invincible because they are always guided by the principles of truth, honesty, fairness, courage and peaceful coexistence. They worship the living God who is the source of their strength.
Who is the Aggressor in the current Wase conflict?
Anybody who is a keen observer of the unfolding conflict situation in Wase is tempted to believe that Boko Haram which has remained an albatross on the necks of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has penetrated and established some cells in Wase LGA. The Hausa/Fulani attacks are always deadly and merciless. If not for the grace of God, the Taroks of Wase would have been totally eliminated. Their significant numerical strength in Wase LGA and their unwavering belief in God have combined to help them survive the multiple evil machinations of their neighbours who would not rejoice with them when they are prospering but would rather seek to eliminate them. God is against deadly passion in all it manifestations. We have chronicled below the spate of attacks on some Tarok of Wase settlements and the resultant deaths and destruction of farm lands and looting of assets including cattle rustling which is a thriving illicit business in Wase LGA perpetrated by the Hausa/Fulani as a way of diminishing the socio-economic stature of the Wase Tarok.
1. Four (4) Tarok men killed by the Hausa/Fulani jihadists on 25th July, 2012 on Wase- Kadarko road.
2. A Fulani man was killed by his kinsmen in Gimbi in November, 2012.
3. Two (2) Bogghom persons were killed by unknown gunmen in December 2011.
4. A Tarok man was killed in Kurmi on 17th January, 2013 by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists.
5. Nine (9) Fulanis were killed by suspected Fulani gunmen along Wadata-Kurmi road on 23rd January, 2013.
6. A Tarok settlement of Tenam was attacked by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 24th January, 2013 and two huts were burnt down.
7. A Tarok settlement of Borgu near Safiyo was attacked and five (5) huts were burnt on 28th January, 2013 by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists.
8. Jawando, a Tarok settlement was attacked by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and six (6) compounds were burnt down.
9. A hurt was burnt down by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists in Damna, a Tarok settlement on 31st January, 2013.
10. The Hausa/Fulani attacked and killed a Tarok youth along Kurmi-Wadata road on 1st February, 2013.
11. Security agencies confirmed the killing of Mai-Angwan Shengel by the Fulanis on 2nd February, 2013.
12. The village of Vinning was burnt down by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 16th February, 2013.
13. A Tarok man was killed by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 17th February, 2013 on Kurmi-Wadata road.
14. Some Tarok houses were burnt down by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists in Guram, Bashar Chiefdom on 25th February, 2013.
15. Two motorcycles belonging to some Tarok men were snatched by Fulani youth on 25th February, 2013.
16. Two (2) Tarok youths were killed by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists behind the Wase rock on 16th March, 2013 in a well planned provocation in line with the slogan of the so-called Wase Unity Forum.
17. Dam Shenya, a Tarok settlement was invaded by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and houses were burnt down and a woman molested on 18th March, 2013.
18. Hazo Lar and James Lakong (two Tarok men) were killed by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and their corpses were dumped near Kanwa Mavo, on 19th March, 2013.
19. Mr. Danjuma Dashe from Zunzukut was matcheted by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists along Wase-Kuka road on 19th March, 2013.
20. Tarok people in Mavo, a Jukun settlement were attacked and many killed in the market on the 19th March, 2013.
21. Three Tarok men rescued in Mavo by Security Operatives on 19th March, 2013 and handed to the Chief of Mavo but have not been seen or heard of in a strange security arrangement.
22. Nantim Maisamari, a Tarok man was stabbed in Wase town on 20th March, 2013.
23. Nyingling (a Tarok settlement) was burnt by Hausa-Fulani Jihadists on the 21st March, 2013.
24. Sabon-Gida Mavo a Tarok settlement was burnt by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and Mavo Jukun Jihadists on 22nd March, 2013.
25. Tsamiya and Angwan Sokowa, two Tarok settlements were burnt down by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists resulting in loss of two lives, one of them a prominent politician, Baba Siman Dangbong Mavo.
26. Tunga, Dam Shenya and Cubtim, Tarok settlements were burnt down by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 24th March, 2013.
27. Tsamiya was attacked and burnt the second time by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 25th March, 2013.
28. Ndinka (Ruwan Gogo), a Tarok settlement was attacked and burnt down by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 25th March, 2013.
29. Dam one, a Tarok settlement was attacked and burnt down by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 27th March, 2013.
30. Poyi Vonkat (a Tarok man of Karkashi) was attacked and killed by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 29th March, Jihadists on 29th March, 2013.
31. Bakin-Rijiya and Hamale (Tarok settlements) were burnt down by Hausa/Fulani and Mavo Jukun Jihadists on 31st March, 2013.
32. Tarok settlement of Gungu and Karkashi were burnt by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 3RD April, 2013.
33. Kurmin Gajere was burnt by Hausa/Fulani Jihadists on 4th April, 2013
34. Kuka and Pako (Tarok settlements) were burnt by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and some mercenaries on 5th April, 2013.
35. Zongo village was attacked by the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and mercenaries and 10 lives were lost with several others critically injured and scores of houses burn on 6th April, 2013..
36. Zongo village was attacked the second and third times on 8th and 10th April, 2013.
37. Tsamiya (a Tarok settlement) was again attacked on 16th April, 2013 with many lives lost and some houses burnt down.
38. On 16th April, 2013, the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists attacked Badarai in Wase Tofa and killed one Tarok man and injured four persons.
39. On 18th May, 2013, Hausa/Fulani terrorists attacked Wurmat in Kadarko and burnt down many houses.
40. On 23rd May, 2013, there was an attack on Tsinsiya and many houses were burnt down.
41. On 7th June, 2013 Guiwan Kogi was attacked, two people were killed and many houses destroyed.
42. On 11th June, 2013 Latong village was attacked and many houses burnt down.
43. On 16th June, 2013 Kogi Kassa was attacked, crops on the farms were destroyed, two people were killed and four persons injured.
44. Hausa/Fulani Jihadists attacked Bakin-Rijiya and killed one Binbol Nansoh and seized his motor cycle on 9th August, 2013.
45. On 7th August, 2013, cows were rustled at Ungwan Balak, a Tarok settlement in Wase LGA
46. On 11th August, 2013, Wase Tofa was attacked, eleven persons were killed.
47. Crops were destroyed in Kuka, Ruga near Saluwe, Gandu, Zongo, Duwi, Myer, Timshak, Wase Tofa and Bakin Rijiya on 12th August, 2013.
48. Barracks and Timjul in Lantang South were attacked on 8th September, 2013 with four lives lost.
49. On the 9th September, 2013 people were attacks on the farms in Kuka and Layi Wase Tofa and two motor cycles were stolen.
50. On 10th September, 2013 Takbol village in Langtang South was attacked leading to the loss of one life with scores of houses burnt down.
51. On 10th September, 2013, Gidan Bwa in Langtang South LGA was attacked with scores of houses burnt down.
52. The hausa/Fulani jihadists attacked Nbiyak community of Kadarko district of wase local government on 20th September 2013, just yesterday. They killed several Tarok residences of the community and razed their homes.
From the foregoing statistical data on the spate of attacks against the Tarok of Wase and Langtang South Local Government Areas, it is pretty clear that the Hausa/Fulani have planned to uproot the Tarok of Wase to achieve their satanic agenda of ‘Wase Banda Yergam.’ They have employed all other possible means including the use of mercenaries from neighbouring states but to no avail. They are now driven by a huge sense of frustration and confusion to cry for help in a needless crisis generated by them. Their cronies are busy amplifying their inaudible voice so that they can continue to be in their good book. We all know why they are crying at this time with the release of the Local Government Election time table by the Plateau state Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), they are feeling threatened by the sheer numerical strength of Tarok of Wase and the possibility of winning the Chairmanship and majority of the Councillorship seats as it was the case before the ‘Wase banda Yergam’ slogan. We understand what is happening in Wase LGA as a calculated attempt to exclude the displaced Tarok persons from participating in the Local Government Elections fixed for 7th December, 2013. It is the fundamental right of every Tarok person of voting age to participate fully in the democratic process and no person or group of persons can deny them this inalienable right. It was John Ottis, a renowned American lawyer who contended that “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”
It is a contradiction in terms for the writers to say at one point that the Taroks of Langtang are stupendously rich and influential because of their fulfilled military career in particular and public service in general and at another point, to claim that they are driven by sheer quest for economic resources to engage in armed cattle rustling. On the 9th of September, 2013, three Fulani cattle rustlers, Adamu Usman, Haruna Jika and Saidu Shehu were sentenced to jail by Shendam Magistrate court for stealing cows belonging to one Nanbol of Zamwal village. All the three accused pleaded guilty of the offence before the Magistrate court. What more fragments of evidence does the public need to reach a conclusion as to who is engaged in armed cattle rustling business between the parties involved in the Wase conflict? This hard fact simply portrays the writers of the open letter as not only pathological liars but unrepentant conflict entrepreneurs who feed fatter during crisis situation as it gives them credible grounds for them to make solicitation for resources. We challenge them to present evidence in support of their allegation that the Taroks of Langtang have been engaging in cattle rustling for economic consideration.
The Hausa/Fulani and their cronies in Wase have no say in who becomes the Chief of the Tarok people of Wase LGA. Just as the Tarok people have no say in who becomes the Emir of Wase emirate, so also the Hausa/Fulani and their cronies cannot have a say in who becomes the Chief of the Kadarko LGA. You may call Chief Lot Nden any name; it does not make him less qualified for the stool. It is laughable that the writers of the open letter claim to have a better sense of history of traditional ruler ship heritage of the Wase Tarok than the people themselves. The well known but ineffective divide and rule antic of the Hausa/Fulani in the 21st Century is not lost here. The Tarok people of Wase are too familiar with this outlandish strategy that they will not allow anything to tear them apart as their survival in Wase LGA is critically dependent on their robust and strong sense of unity and solidarity. After all in the Wase banda Yergam slogan, all the Taroks were target and therefore no Tarok should yield to the divisive tendencies of the Hausa/Fulani Jihadists and their cronies as represented by the writers who have become abjectly servile to them for survival. It may interest this group to know that the republican nature of an average Tarok person does not predispose him to the culture of subservience to any self acclaimed ‘lord’. This is at the core of the intense and deadly passion of hate the Hausa/Fulani and their cronies have towards the Tarok nation in general and the Wase Tarok in particular.
The demand for Chiefdom by the Tarok of Wase is their legitimate democratic right and no person or group of persons can cow them into submission to the undemocratic and oppressive emirate system in the 21st Century. After all freedom is not obtained on a platter of gold. It is always a product of intense anti-undemocratic struggle in any political community. We were bearing the pangs of the oppressive and exclusive emirate system with equanimity of mind until when we were pushed to the wall. To think that the Tarok of Wase would capitulate easily to the frequent provocations of the Hausa/Fulani and their cronies is to underestimate the resolve of the people to defend themselves at all times. Our co-travellers in Southern Kaduna gained freedom after some sustained struggles against forces of oppression, domination and retrogression. Anybody who is rattled by the indomitable spirit of the Tarok of Wase has only two options: either to renounce the culture of violence or to relocate to another planet where he can exercise undemocratic and illegitimate authority without constraint. The principle of peaceful coexistence is mutual respect, tolerance and accommodation. As Thomas Jefferson captures it aptly, “a coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.” The basis of peaceful coexistence is predicated on mutual acceptance that none is a second class citizen in a free and democratic society. The Governor of Plateau state, Da Dr Jonah David Jang is a rational decision maker whose sense of rationality is not easily influenced by the sentimental partisan outcry of a sinking group whose only pastime is causing intergroup disharmony where there is no rational basis for doing so. The Tarok of Wase have every reason to be perpetually rebellious toward the Hausa/Fulani emirate system but as civilized, disciplined, and law and order conscious citizens, have chosen the conventional path to express their grievances and seeking for remediation before relevant authorities in the state. The irrational opposition of the Hausa/Fulani and their cronies to the legitimate demand of the Tarok of Wase to own Chiefdom is like the ranting of an ant. The earlier they accept this hard fact the better for durable and sustainable peace in Wase LGA. Socio economic development has for long eluded Wase LGA because of the evil agenda of those who would not give other stakeholders equal sense of belonging and inclusion. Elsewhere their kiths and kins are fighting for belonging and inclusion but the Hausa/Fulani would be more comfortable with the Tarok of Wase perpetually subservient to them.
In conclusion, we want to thank the writers of the open letter for alerting the Tarok of Langtang of impending attacks which would elicit the kind of “criminal war of terror of the Tarok of Langtang,’ whatever that means. We pray the Hausa/Fulani do not push the sinister agenda beyond the territorial confines of Wase local government area. We are for peace because it breeds congenial climate for meaningful socio-economic, cultural and political development. The Tarok nation is too obsessed with developmental challenges than engaging in anything that would cause it to lose focus. Our motto is “forward ever, backward never” and we have remained faithful to this. As long as the conflict does not extend to us, we remain committed to the enterprise of development in our land rather than engaging in petty brawl between the Tarok of Wase and their neighbours.