Taraba state governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku has said that fleeing members of the Boko Haram insurgents were taking refuse in the Bali forest area of the state, posing potential security threat to residents of the state.
Speaking when he received the Brigade Commander of the 23 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Yolanda, General Bello Abdullahi Mohammed, Governor Ishaku said the presence of the fleeing insurgents who were displaced from the Sambisa forest has led to increase in crime rate in the state.
He said that as a result of the heat on them by military, the insurgents have fled the Sambisa forest and are now occupying the Bali forest which is equally a vast forest, adding that as a result of that, robbery, kidnapping, rape and other forms of crimes have now become a daily occurrence in all the local governments close to the forest.
Governor Ishaku also drew the attention of the military to the increasing state of insecurity at the Gashaka Gumpti National Park which is threatening tourism in the state.
He said criminals have infiltrated the Park, thereby making it unsafe for tourists and called for intervention by the security forces to flush out the criminals to make the Park which has been attracting a lot of local and foreign tourist safe again.
He commended the military for its role in helping to restore peace to communities affected by communal crises in the state in the past, saying that they were always there any time they were called, even in the wee hours of the night and under poor weather conditions.
“This has to be so, because the scope of the crises, sometimes is beyond the police to tackle. The situation now is such that herdsmen carry sophisticated weapons instead of sticks which they were known to carry and they now often overwhelm security agencies sent to confront them”, he said.
While lamenting the incessant crisis between farmers and herdsmen, Governor Ishaku said in the past, “herdsmen and farmers enjoyed a cordial and symbiotic relationship.
“Farmers wanted herdsmen to leave their cattle on their farms long enough to eat up grass and remnants of harvested crops and in the process fertilize the farms by excreting their wastes there.
“Even when the cattle ate the farmers’ crops, the matter was always amicably resolved with the herdsman paying a token compensation. These never resulted in any fight or crisis”, he said
Speaking earlier, the Brigade Commander, General Mohammed assured the Governor of the preparedness of the army to assist the state in the pursuit of its agenda for peace in the state.
“Our men are always ready and willing respond any time they are called to help restore peace. He said he will consult with the Governor for advice and guidance in handling security matters always”, he said.