Alhaji Zubairu Hammangabdo, the traditional ruler of Gashaka in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State, has called on Defence Headquarters to empower soldiers of 20 Mechanised Battalion in Serti with facilities and trained personnel to improve surveillance to rid the area of criminal elements.
Hammangabdo, who is the Lamdo of Gashaka, made the appeal on Sunday when he received a military fact-finding team set up by Chief of Army Staff to investigate an allegation made by former defence minister, Retired Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma.
Danjuma had on March 24 2018 at the convocation of Taraba State University in Jalingo, alleged that the armed forces in Taraba and other states colluded with killers and marauding herdsmen and did not protect the people.
Hammangabdo said the Gashaka-Gumti National Park, located in his domain, which he said, was larger than the dreaded Sambisa forest could be a safe haven for criminals.
He added that the local government, which had not experienced any crisis since its creation, had become home to many peace-loving Nigerians.
The crisis in the North East and the recent communal clashes between Mambilla and Fulani groups in the neighbouring Sardauna Local Government led to increase in the number of people seeking refuge in the area, he noted.
He explained, “The influx of people and presence of the Gashaka Gumti National Park in this area may turn the place to safe haven for criminal elements.
“We are appealing to Defence Headquarters to empower soldiers of the 20 Mechanised Battalion in Serti with facilities and trained personnel to improve surveillance to rid the area of criminal elements.”
He commended the chief of army staff for setting up the panel.
The chairman of the probe team, Retired Maj.-Gen. John Nimyel, told the traditional ruler that the group also visited Gembu, headquarters of Sardauna Local Government Area, being one of the areas worst hit by the recent violence, as part of efforts to get to the root of the retired general’s allegations.
While suing for peace, Nimyel urged the traditional institutions to be at the forefront in mapping out strategies for peaceful coexistence among the various ethnic groups living in their domains.
The chief of army staff had raised a committee to clear the reputation of the Nigerian Army, saying such allegation could not be ignored.