A POINT OF ORDER!
Of recent, the Berom nation has been inundated with an avalanche of hate speeches, write ups, press releases, conferences and even protests by some groups and individuals within and outside Nigeria.
Notable among them are the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), with various captions such as, ”Matters arising from the Plateau”, “Stop Berom Terrorists now” and “Berom Christians, the real terrorists”.
The Berom nation takes serious exception to this smear campaign which is aimed at demonizing the Berom, heightening religious hatred and intolerance. To us, these narratives are largely blatant lies, others contradictory in terms, misleading or merely the figments of the authors’ imagination.
It is obvious that the purpose of all the write-ups is to change the well known narrative of sustained Fulani aggression and territorial expeditions against the Berom. According to this deliberate distortion of facts and reality, Berom Christians are vilified as evil, terrorists and cannibals fitting exactly into the schemes and justification of our detractors and invaders of our communities.
It would appear logical from their narration therefore, to continually brutalize, dispossess, displace and massacre innocent and defenseless peasants, women and children. It is quite revealing that none of these accounts made any reference to the past and present losses of the Berom in terms of lives, crops, farmlands, sacked communities and the displaced currently languishing in make-shift camps as IDPs. We dare to ask, who killed Rev. Bitrus Manjang, the then retired Vice President, Church Of Christ In Nations, (COCIN), in Rim village? Have the killers of Distinguished Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong or that of Hon. Gyang Fulani, the then Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly been brought to justice, not to talk of the killers of a First Class Chief in Bokkos LGA, Da Lazarus Agai, the Saf Ron Kulere? Have we forgotten so soon, several massacres (genocide?) of Dyenburuk (Dogo Nahawa), Gashish and Riyom in June 2018 and most recently, Loh-Pamdyet, where thousands of innocent lives have been wasted?
We find it very dubious to isolate the unfortunate disappearance of Major Gen. Idris Alkali and treat it outside the context of security challenges bedeviling Plateau State now for nearly two decades. In fact, to do this, it would conspicuously imply that thousands of wasted Berom lives do not count, neither do their property, farmlands and homes, even when from their ancestry, they remain unconquered people except for the British. More intriguing is the ignorance being feigned that there are no Muslims amongst the Berom when in fact, thousands of them are indeed devout Muslims, with some highly placed as Sheiks and Khadis. How on earth do we excuse Professors Salisu Shehu and Ishaq Akintola if they both claim not to know that the urban setting and cosmopolitan nature of Jos, the Plateau State capital demands a higher level of responsibility on any statements involving criminality? Again, how acceptable is the narration that every act of criminality in Jos is defined by the twin frames of Berom ethnicity and Christian identity, when indeed armed banditry, robbery and cattle rustling are organized by syndicates that transcend religious and ethnic boundaries?
In our view, “no matter how thick suspicion is, it does not translate into a fact”. The Berom nation strongly holds that the mere discovery of a car in veryunclear circumstances at a particular location does not immediately incriminate an entire community, no matter how much we are hated or demonized. Justice demands that particular culprits be fished out through established procedures of scientific and criminal investigation practiced all over the world. This is what we expect in the circumstance, not for the Nigerian Army to indiscriminately arrest and harass community members and passers-by including heavily pregnant women and the aged with the aim of torturing them and “cowing” them to make statements under duress.
It is unbelievable and indeed ungodly that highly regarded Islamic bodies under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, can fall to the low ebb of becoming abusive on fellow citizens. These bodies have chosen to malign and unscrupulously label an entire ethnic nationality as “… a bunch of evil and deadly ethnic supremacists whose brazen show of cannibalism astounded the world…”. How we wish that these Islamic bodies stood up for true religion that considers human life sacred and upholds the tenets of justice to all for the promotion of peace and peaceful coexistence without prejudices to ethnicity, religious differences or social status.
The fact remains that the particular incident being used in this wild allegation and abuse, like many others including Loh-Pamdyet, Dyenburuk, Gashish, Riyom, Jol, Fan and Foron are yet to definitively deal with specific individuals or groups that have been found culpable from an official investigation. Today however, what the Berom nation is confronted with is the biased speculation and religiously motivated campaign to justify the dispossession and extermination of its people.
More fundamentally, we consider the labeling of the yet unknown perpetrator(s) of the disappearance of Major General Idris Alkali, as “Berom Christian terrorists” as not only prejudicial but malicious and inciting, meant only to further entrench religious bigotry and hatred.
Here, the question that demands an answer is whether the so called Prof. Ishaq Akintola who issued the statement by Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC has any evidence that there is an established Christian terrorist network that is Berom either in the said community or Berom land? Otherwise, what is the aim of statements such as “the General was targeted by Berom Christian terrorists because he was a Muslim passing through Berom territory”? What is the basis for calling the Berom a terrorist nation? Have the Berom ever attacked any community within or outside Plateau? Are the Berom the ones fighting in the North East, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Benue, Zamfara and Southern Kaduna?
On reading the statements, one wonders whether Berom Christians or better still, Christians in Plateau State have any rights at all.
The disappearance of General Idris Alkali is without doubt, painful and unfortunate. However, this must be explained in a proper perspective of the prevailing general insecurity, the compromised security agents and the quality of governance amongst others. The Berom nation has never and shall not tolerate criminality or cover bad elements in any way. Nonetheless, it shall not fold its arms nor keep quiet when lies, ill conceived narrations and thoroughly biased statements are unleashed in bad faith on the unsuspecting public. We pledge as a people to contribute our own quarter as we have always done to the collective struggle of uniting Nigeria and restoring peaceful coexistence, tolerance and the fear of God in our society.
We encourage the Media to stand on the side of the truth using incontrovertible facts to show the world the forces and factors at work on the Plateau, never to lose objectivity on the platter of intimidation, threats or ethnic and religious sentiments.
As far as the Berom nation is concerned, its people and communities are victims of sustained terrorist attacks by the Fulani which are aimed at dispossessing and annihilating them from their ancestral lands and heritage. On this, it must be said that no matter the terror and killings of our people, not a single inch of Berom land shall be ceded to Fulani occupiers and their cohorts in this 21st century , neither will we succumb to the wishes of paid political surrogates and thugs like one so called Rotdunna Sekat, calling for the deposition of our highly revered First Class Royal Father, His Majesty Da (Dr.) Jacob Gyang Buba and the arrest of former Plateau State Governor, Distinguished Senator Jonah David Jang as accomplices to the attacks and killings in their own land against their own people. How ironic this can be… blaming the victim! The so called Sekat who goes with several pseudo names such as “Kim Bulus” and “Loiusanta”, should rightfully be in the custody of security agents if his concocted and confused claims have any substance or better still a rehabilitation centre where lunatics and substance abusers receive help.
Lastly, evidence abounds for all that care to know that the Berom are peaceful, hospitable and accommodating. That is why Plateau State won for itself the appellation of the “Home of Peace and Tourism”.
Da Iliya Choji Kim
Vice President, Berom Educational and Cultural Organization, BECO