After some local vigilante members on Thursday attacked and injured at least four herders whom they accused of hiding a suspected criminal, residents of Gaa, a community in Garki Local Government of Jigawa State, said the increasing clashes between the vigilantes and herders have become a source of concern.
This is after a similar incident resulted in the death of one person in the area a few weeks ago.
Residents said the vigilante group known as ‘Yan Bulaliya’ pursued a herder named Adamu Baushe. But when they could not apprehend him, they accused a group of herders of hiding the fleeing suspect.
“After they (the Yan Bulaliya) could not catch Mr Baushe, they started assaulting the herders believing that they were hiding Mr Baushe,” said a community leader, Haruna Malam.
“The herders were unwilling or perhaps genuinely unaware of Mr Baushe’s whereabouts but found themselves at the receiving end of the Yan Bulaliya’s wrath,” the community leader added.
“In an appalling turn of events, the Yan Bulaliya group resorted to unspeakable violence, inflicting grievous injuries upon residents they presumed guilty. Their actions sent shockwaves throughout the areas, leaving scars that would not easily heal and may end up in violent reprisals, Mr Malam claimed.
He showed PREMIUM TIMES gory pictures of those he claimed were victims of the attack. He claimed the victims are receiving treatment at a hospital in the area.
How it started, and now escalating
Another resident, Iro Abubakar, said the group’s activities are becoming worrisome. He urged the Jigawa government and security agencies to act before the situation deteriorated to reprisal attacks.
“In the face of such atrocities, the victims, mostly herders, decided it was time to seek justice through the legal system, filing criminal complaints against the ‘Yan Bulaliya’, but it has been to no avail.
“Curiously, despite the group’s admission of guilt during one of such incidents after a police investigation, they were surprisingly released without facing trial.
“This glaring miscarriage of justice deepened the wounds of the aggrieved communities and may erode their trust in the system meant to protect them if nothing is done to correct the wrong impression,” Mr Abubakar said.
“The vigilantes had taken it upon themselves to maintain law and order in the Garki. However, they operated outside the law, unregistered and unlicensed,” he added.
The growing discord
Mr Abubakar said the animosity between the group and the herders is fast becoming a security concern. He said the government should intervene to prevent escalation.
“Yan Bulaliya’ killed one Muhammadu Kato, a herder. The police arrested three members of the group linked to the killing, but to the dismay of the grieving family, they were soon released under the pretence of forgiveness from the victim’s families. However, the widows and children of the deceased were unwilling to let his killers escape justice so easily.
“The bereaved family confronted the police headquarters in Dutse, demanding justice and accountability for their loss. The relentless pursuit for justice finally bore fruit as the police eventually charged the three members of the vigilantes in court.
“The group made desperate attempts to secure the release of their members. Frustration and rage consumed them as their efforts yielded no results. In their fury, they retaliated by raiding the house of the deceased, Mr Kato, subjecting his elder son to a brutal assault and pursuing his younger brother, Mr Baushe, who fled for his life, which resulted in the fresh attack of the rearing herders on Thursday after accusing them of hiding Mr Baushe, Mr Abubakar alleges.
Residents said the growing incident has resulted in animosity among the Yan Bulaliya group, primarily farmers and the community, mostly cattle herders.
The leader of the vigilante group in Jigawa, Sharu Sani, said the Yan Bulaliya group is not a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria. He said the group may be sponsored by local politicians. Thus, he cannot speak about their operations.
But the police commissioner in Jigawa, Emmanuel Ekot, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police have arrested and charged some members of the group to court following an attack on residents of the area.
He said the latest incident that occurred is being investigated by the command.
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