PRESS BRIEFING BY CHAMBA PEOPLE OF BISAULA –
A REJOINDER BY CHAMBA PEOPLE OF BISAULA TO A PRESS BRIEFING OF 20TH JANUARY 2022 BY DR BIBINU SAMUEL AHMED, NATIONAL PRESIDENT ICHEN CULTURAL AND DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (ICADA) HELD IN JALINGO ON 26TH JANUARY, 2022
1.0: Gentlemen of the Press, Distinguished Ladies, and Gentlemen.
This is a rejoinder to a press briefing by Dr. Bibinu Samuel Ahmed, President, Ichen Cultural and Development Association (ICADA), which was held on 20th January 2022 on the recent ethnic crisis between the Ichen and Dakka clam of the Chamba people in Bisaula. The press briefing came out clear on the fact that the Ichen nation stood by the unfortunate carnage that was visited on the Dakka people of Bisaula.
Before now we had wondered, how the Ichen people that God has caused them to cohabit with us in the same place, and to whom we have over the years demonstrated that we are peace-loving people, would suddenly turn wickedly against us in the extreme manner they did at this time.
Little did we know that it was an Ichen tribal agenda to kill, maim and destroy Chamba Dakka people.
From the press briefing of the ICADA National President, we have now come to see and understand the depth of hatred the Ichen people have against anything Chamba in Bisaula.
The content of the press release vividly indicates that the National President of ICADA truly knew what he meant when he said, ‘There is a silent war between the Ichen people … and Ndaka people and their sympathizers”. All along, the Dakka (Chamba) of Bisaula underrated the problems they have been having with the Ichen people of Bisaula, not knowing that the Ichen had declared war against us.
CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM BETWEEN THE ICHEN AND CHAMBA PEOPLE OF BISAULA.
We want to start by briefly educating the public on the issues that have been responsible for the tension between Ichen and Chamba people in Bisaula.
A. THE REMOTE CAUSE
- The principal remote cause of the problems in Bisaula is the long-standing hatred and deliberate effort at active subjugation of the Chamba people by the Ichen people in Bisaula. This is what the National President of ICADA, Dr. Bibinu Samuel Ahmed, came out to declare as a ‘silent war’ in his press briefing. The Dakka people, with all their patience, have on many occasions suffered untold humiliation and intimidation from their Ichen counterparts in Bisaula. The Chamba people in Bisaula are neither allowed freedom of association nor freedom to practice their cultural and traditional activities.
It may also be necessary to mention at this point that over the years the callous behaviors of Ichen Youths in Bisaula sometimes extend beyond Dakka people. The unruly behaviors of these Ichen youths are supposedly meant to demonstrate to all and sundry that Ichen people are in charge and Bisaula belongs to them and no other. As can be noticed, this is one of the points that Dr. Bibinu emphasized with a strong emphasis in his press briefing.
Just to mention a few examples of some uncivilized behaviors displayed by Ichen youths in Bisaula in the past;
In 1992, Ichen youths in Bisaula chased all Igbos together with any other persons that looked like Igbo out of Bisaula. The sin of these Igbos then was that they were perceived as ‘sympathizers’ of Dakka people, as worded in the ICADA Press statement.
In the year 1995, Ichen youths stormed Bisaula Police Station and chased out all Policemen on duty. Nothing happened to any of them because they were above the law. They were the law in the land.
Again in the year 2000 Ichen youths attacked the Police Station for a second time and chased out all Police personnel in Bisaula with impunity. Nothing happened to any of them
B. THE IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE CURRENT CRISIS
We hereby briefly outline the immediate causes of the current crisis as follows:
On 31st October 2021, the village head of Bisaula, Mallam Umaru Giwa Danbeki took his hatred for the Chamba people of Bisaula to another level by publicly announcing a draconian decree in Bisaula village that nobody is allowed to wear the Chamba traditional (torgu) attire in Bisaula. This Nebuchadnezzaric decree was meant to completely erase the culture of the Chamba people of Bisaula who have all along been under Ichen subjugation. Shamelessly, this village head went further to say that he had no issue with any Dakka person that maintains his identity as Dakka (or Ndaka as they called us) and not as Chamba. He threatened to deal with any Dakka man who identifies himself as Chamba.
From the ICADA press statement, it can be seen that this position, as announced by the village head of Bisaula, is an unfortunate mindset that has been developed by the Ichen of Bisaula. For example, such statements like ‘…the Ndaka people who recently claimed to be Chamba’, ‘As you are aware Bissaula town, the headquarter of Bissaula District, which was formerly known as Kyentu District, came under attack by heavily armed Ndaka people who now claim to be Chamba’, ‘The Naka people are so-called because they migrated from a village called Ndaka in Cameroun and few of them first came in Bisaula in the 1930s or thereabout, they changed their names to Chamba only recently (sic) and “the Ndaka people who camouflaged as Chamba people to earn support….’ were made in the press statement.
The several questions that quickly come to mind include the following;
Why is it that the Ichen of Bisaula do not want Dakka people to be called Chamba?
Has any Chamba clan ever said that Dakka people are not Chamba?
Is it the Ichen people of Bisaula that will tell the Dakka what ethnic group they belong to?
Is it that the Ichen of Bisaula feel uncomfortable or envious that the Dakka people of Bisaula identify with their roots?
It is a common phenomenon that ethnic groups spill over in border communities. The 1961 plebiscite separated border ethnic groups into Nigeria and Cameroun. For example, we have the Tigun of Eneme in Kurmi LGA in Nigeria while there are Tiguns in Ako in Cameroun. Do we then say the Tigun of Enemy are not Nigerians because there are Tiguns in Ako?. So for the Ichen of Bisaula to claim that Dakka people are foreigners from Cameroon and have never had a stake in Bisaula is an uncharitable lie. In any case, is there a tribe that was created on the land they are today found? Such muddled thinking can only be associated with the uncivilized.
For those whom the negative intellectual display of the President of ICADA may attempt to blindfold or mislead, we want to make it clear that Dakka is one of the Chamba clans. The Chamba Nation is made up of several clans such as Sama, Pyeri, Dakka, Paati, Tikari, Lufum, Nukpabi, Gama, Wuma, etc. I think it is only fair to say that it is not an Ichen man that will tell a Chamba man that he is not Chamba. At most, the farthest an Ichen man can go is to tell the Dakka people that they are not Ichen. And we make bold to say that no Dakka man in his right mind would claim to be Ichen. Never!
We do not know why the ICADA President chose to mention the issue of chieftaincy in his press briefing. He wandered haphazardly from Bisaula to Zagah, Suntai, and Kumbo. However, it must be clearly stated that the current ethnic crisis in Bisaula is not in any way associated or related with any chieftaincy issue.
The ICADA National President wasted his energy to provide lame and unsubstantiated proofs that Ichen is the ethnic group that founded Bisaula. There is no sense in saying that a foreign tribe that came not long ago would have given the original names of towns and places already occupied without contradiction. We make bold to say that the name Bisawola (spelled as ‘Bisaula’ or even Bissaula) was given to this village by the Chamba people and it stands today as the only name officially recognized. For the avoidance of doubt, Bisawola (Bisaula) means ‘river/water of frogs’ in the Chamba language. So, how can a ‘foreign’ tribe that you claim does not belong to your Community come and christen your Community and you adopt the name?
The wild goose chase of the ICADA National President at trying to evolve some strange names for Bisaula is just an effort in futility. It may interest the public to know that several water bodies and mountains/hills around Bisaula are named in the Chamba language. Examples of water bodies named in the Chamba language include Bisawola (‘river of frogs’ from where Bisawola village got its name), Sondervara (‘it is good to vara’. Vara is a popular Chamba cult/masquerade), and Mabu (‘who are they?). Mountains/hills around Bisaula named in Chamba language include Walkun Sonu (you have united good relatives), Amagye (‘where are you going).
Back to the immediate cause of the current crisis; on 15th December 2021 a Dakka man, Yakubu Atajere, dressed up in the Chamba cultural attire was accosted by a mob of Ichen militia youths, who had been brainwashed by the decree of their emperor, the then village head who had arrogantly placed a ban on the wearing of Chamba cultural attire in Bisaula. Mr. Atajere was given the beating of his life and was dispossessed of his traditional cap as he managed to escape by the whiskers from the hands of these Ichen assailants.
Apparently, with an age-long underground plan to attack the Chamba people and perhaps not satisfied with the ‘punitive measure’ earlier meted out on Mr. Atajere, the overzealous Ichen militias mobilized and came to the Chamba area and started throwing stones at the Chamba people. Of course, the Chamba natives also responded by throwing back stones at the rampaging Ichen youths in self-defense. Later in the night, at about 10.30 pm, the Ichen militia youths set fire on the house of a Dakka man, Mr. Duten, popularly called ‘Black’. As Black’s house was burning these Ichen vandals started shooting guns probably to announce the level of their preparedness for war. That was how thereafter attacks and counterattacks continued to occur in the days following.
The carnage unleashed on the Chamba people in Bisaula by the Ichen ethnic group can better be imagined than experienced. They killed many of our people and sacked the whole town. Those of them who were fortunate to escape did so without taking anything out of their houses. The Ichen attacks were taken to other Chamba villages such as Gwanda where some Chamba people went to seek refuge. The displacement was so grievous.
So the claim in the ICADA press statement that the Chamba attacked and burn their properties because they (Ichen) ‘are not prepared (sic) is a shameless lie which can only be accepted in the world of the dark. ICADA militias led the whole massacre razing down communities, houses, and properties worth millions of naira. That is why today many Chamba people from Bisaula are taking refuge in Jalingo, Baisa, Bali, Serti, and other adjoining villages and towns.
From all indications, Ichen people in the Bisaula area have demonstrated that they are not ready to coexist with other tribes, particularly the Chamba people. Today may be Chamba, tomorrow another ethnic group could become their target.
According to Bibinu, Chamba migrated to Bisaula ‘in 1930 or thereabout’. If it is so, then what about the Ichen people that migrated to Bisaula only after the 1961 plebiscite? The ICADA President will do well to provide proof of his claims and assertions.
We the Chamba community in Bisaula are highly dismayed and disappointed by the pointless and unsubstantiated outbursts in the press briefing of the President of ICADA. The ICADA President forgot that many people are aware that a lot of historical events about the present Kurmi LGA were meticulously documented by the Colonial Administrations. Ichen elders are not unaware of these but do not want their younger generations to know. These elders feed the younger ones with falsehood and modernized history, playing on the sensibilities of their children. Some people may try to rewrite their history but Chamba does not rewrite their history.
Ichen people are trying to make things appear as if Chamba’s indigenous ancestral habitation of Bisaula is a mystery. What seems a mystery to Ichen in Bisaula, actually shouldn’t be. It is rather conventional; all over the world, even in history, that population does not and cannot take the place of indigenous ancestral habitation.
The Chamba people have lived in the land area called Bisaula long before the arrival of European colonial masters and the people of the Ichen ethnic group. Ichen migration followed after the 1961 plebiscite. They were attracted by the fertile land areas and since the place is so fruitful and the people very hospitable, they never attempted to return to their former abodes.
Every tribe you see in Nigeria today, migrated from somewhere, except, of course, those who do not know where they came from and so had nothing to tell their descendants.
World history had documented years ago that Chamba migrated from Syria in the Middle East. No reasonable person can contest that fact. Even though the plebiscite of 1961 severed some parts of our land and people (as is the case with other of our neighbors like Ndola, Tigun, etc) into the Cameroun Republic. Our people who were indigenous in Bisaula were not affected so remained as they were at the beginning.
Chamba Dakka of Bisaula were and are living in their ancestral land area in Bisaula and since Bisaula is in Kurmi LGA we are of Kurmi LGA. So also, since Kurmi LGA is in Nigeria we are bonafide Nigerians and have remained Nigerians.
The fact is that Ichen people have been accommodated by our people in Bisaula for many years but they still find it very difficult to adapt to the friendly and lovely coexistence approach always offered to them by the Chamba communities in the area.
It will be appropriate at this juncture to educate the Ichen people of Bisaula that it is not possible to obey any draconian law that bans an ethnic group from the association, practicing its culture, or from wearing its cultural attires. Doing so will be infringing on one’s fundamental human rights. Ironically the ICADA President stated; ‘The destiny of a people cannot be toyed with levity’(sic).
It should be recalled to mind that attempts to enforce similar laws in some communities in the past had resulted in devastating crises. Every tribe is always proud of their culture and cultural costumes which give them their distinct identity. The Ichen people should not toy with the destiny of the Chamba people, please.
The Chamba Dakka is so peaceful a people. That is why despite the several wrongs done to us by the Ichen people over the years we do not take the law into our hands. We have never attacked or sacked a police station. We always take a legitimate and civil course of action in dealing with the several cruel, violent, and inhuman attacks on our persons and property. We always petition authorities or seek redress in the law court. The fact that we have always petitioned the authorities means in effect that the authorities are very much aware of these flagrant violations of our civil rights and liberties by our Ichen neighbors.
From the press briefing of 20th January 2022, the ICADA President did not pretend but threatened the Taraba State Government. He warned the Taraba State Government of the consequences of not complying with their demands. He used such expressions like Taraba State Governor “Must”… otherwise they (Ichen) will “Resist” government, etc. The ICADA President further stated: ‘The Ichen people are peace-loving people and if they are pushed to the wall, the counter-reaction could be unpleasant’. As it is, we don’t know what will be the next ‘unpleasant’ plan of ICADA against the Chamba people and Chamba communities in Kurmi LGA.
We the Chamba community in Bisaula hereby call on the Taraba State Government, Kurmi LGC, and the Federal Security Agencies to intervene and come to our rescue to save the helpless Chamba people and communities from the wicked agenda of ICADA. We plead for the following measures to be taken:
Deploy security men (Police, Soldiers, etc) to troubled areas such as Gateri, Bisaula, Agabi, and Sunkuru.
The Executive Chairman Kurmi LG council and his members should visit and condole with the people affected by this crisis.
The innocent Youths and people arrested and detained should be released.
Provide relief materials and Palliative Support to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
A commission of inquiry should be set up to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the crisis, and as well recommend measures to avert reoccurrence.
Thank you very much.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long live Taraba State
Long live Kurmi LGA
SIGNED: Chamba community Bisaula.