Plateau, Central Nigeria: Leaving his home last Sunday at about 4:30pm in Barkin Ladi town for the farm in Rakung, Gassa village, 10kms away, Victor Samuel, 43 hadn’t the slightest idea he would return with knife injuries.
He had attended Church and was idle at home when he felt moved to go and check his ripening maize crops. On arriving the farm, Victor heard disturbances from the middle of the farm, but what he thought to be crop thieves turned out to be the cause of his near death experience.
According to Victor, “I first saw a lonely Fulani boy in the farm. I asked what he was doing there. He did not respond but left. Still I could hear the ruffling of leaves and corn stocks breaking. I traced it and found cattle grazing in the middle of the farm. I asked the herder why he brought his cattle that far. He first kept mute but later apologized. I told him we would have to go settle before law enforcements. When he attempted to flea, I called my brother on phone and he came. We tried to stop him from escaping but could not so my brother held a little boy in the herder’s company. Then instantly, the older herder rushed towards him and hit him three times with his herding stick.
“By the time I approached to rescue him, the herder had pulled a knife and cut him on the cheek and hand and was rushing at me. I ran but could not go far. He hit me with the stick several times before striking me with the knife on the head and hands.”
The herder initially meant to stab Victor’s brother, Mr. Davou Samuel in the stomach but missed and went for the cheek and hands.
“He first targeted my stomach but when I dodged, the knife cut me on the cheek. Still he followed me and I kept dodging and blocking,” said Davou.
The two brothers, both of whom have five children each were displaced in 2012 when religious uprisings broke out in the Local Government headquarters.
“The day our houses were burnt down, we were at home and suddenly we heard people yelling “Allahu Ak’bar”, shooting and advancing towards us. We fled from the houses and they set them ablaze with everything inside,” Victor recalled.
The latest farmland destructions follow series of attacks within and around the Local Government.
In June 2012, over 800 people were reportedly killed mostly in overnight attacks. During a mass burial of victims of one of the attacks, the then Senator representing Plateau North in the Nigerian National Assembly, Gyang Dantong and then Member representing Barkin Ladi Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani were attacked and killed.
The attacks persisted but subsided in 2016, relapsing in June 2018 with over 250 people killed.
Task Force troops arrested over 20 herdsmen with assault rifles during the June 2018 attacks but none of them was tried.
Six suspects believed to have taken part in the attacks were later arrested in connection to different murders and other crimes but freed in July in an allegedly framed ambush on Prison guards while taking them to court in Barkin Ladi.
The suspects have been rearrested in different raids but after many were killed in Southern Kaduna, in series of attacks believed to have been assigned to the freed inmates.