The Federal Government has summoned a meeting with leaders of Berom community over petitions against its construction of two primary schools with VIP toilets in Rankum, a Plateau native community sacked, taken over and renamed “Mahanga” by herders.
Named Ardo Mamuda Primary School after a renowned Fulani leader, the 12 classroom blocks facilitated by the Sustainable Development Goals program “legitimizes land grab”, Jol Community Development Association (JCDA) said in two petitions dated 2nd and 10th July 2020.
“Carrying out such project by your good offices on land grabbed for the benefit of invaders/aggressors when it’s within public knowledge that over 50 villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State have been sacked through armed invasions and currently occupied by the attackers amounts to condonation, applauding, aiding and abetting crimes against humanity thereby legitimizing aggression in the 21st century which is an outright defiance to relevant statutes that prohibit such conduct,” JCDA said in the petitions signed by its Acting Chairman, Mr. Joshua Bashash and 36 others.
The speed at which the construction was done, “without due consultation,” the association said “raises a lot of suspicion that the fact of this development was railroaded to foist a fait accompli on the local community”.
The community in the petitions demanded the “reversal” of the projects which are already set for commissioning and return of the community and over 50 others sacked and occupied by herders to the original owners.
It said in the petition against the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on SDGs, “Since consent of the land owners and local community was not first sought and obtained before siting the project by your good offices, JOCDA demand for reversion of your action so that all the 6 built classrooms block with its furniture as well as the VIP toilets be exclusively allocated to the natives as the entire Rankum (Mahanga) is an area belonging to surviving native inhabitants now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were sacked through violent attacks by Fulani settlers residing thereon, and remorselessly renamed it “Mahanga Village in Riyom LGA”, which is alien to JOCDA. This is the natives-IDPs are in dire need of education since acts of inhumanity visited on innocent them rendered the whole survivors educationally backward.
“Your good offices and other relevant bodies are hereby urged to speedily commence an investigation into this weighty development so that your action and inaction will not project an encouragement to breach of public peace and order. Rather, native inhabitants/IDPs of Rankum should be resettled to their homestead through such intervention and also provision of relief materials and as well as psycho-social supports to alleviate the long traumatic plight of all the affected persons.
“Dislodgement of all Fulani from lands grabbed and/or sacked that have been forcefully occupied, especially Rankum be made a matter of urgent public importance as it will give the disadvantaged persons-IDPs sense of belonging as members of the human family and fulfill the promises and obligation of Government to restore the displaced landowners to their land.
“Your good offices and other relevant agencies should refrain from recognizing “Mahanga Village” other than the original native name “Rankum” of Jol in Riyom LGA. This is because the Rankum (now renamed as “Mahanga” is a hamlet and not a village as forcefully claimed by the Fulani aggressors.”
A response letter dated 10th August 2020 from the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals invited leaders of the community to discuss the matter.
The meeting slated for Monday July 17, 2020 holds from 10am at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja.