A REJOINDER BY BEROM YOUTH MOULDERS-ASSOCIATION (BYM), DU DISTRICT, JOS SOUTH LGA.
RE: AN ATTEMPT TO CHANGE AND RE-WRITE THE HISTORY OF KWANGA
BY AFIZERE YOUTH MOVEMENT (AYM)
Gentlemen of the press, first of all, we would like to extend our condolences to the families of our brothers and sisters who were recently massacred in cold blood in Dong, Kwi and other villages on the Plateau last month. For some time, our people in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, Bassa, Jos South and Jos North Local Government Areas have become subjects of invasion and constant unprovoked attacks by Fulani herdsmen. The excruciating pains of the loss of our loved ones have remained a recurring decimal. May their souls rest in peace.
It is rather unfortunate that at this moment of grief when we are weeping and mourning our losses, the Afizeres have chosen to demonstrate their insensitivity, callousness and outright disregard for the sanctity of human life through a press release riddled with lies and misrepresentations in an attempt to mislead the members of the public.
We would like to reiterate that the issues raised at the press conference of 24th May, 2021 are not new to us as we are constantly faced with the reality of the Afizere nation laying spurious claims to our lands.
In consequence, we are compelled to respond to the issues raised in the press release by the Afizeres who are our brothers and nephews accordingly hereunder:
It is rather unfortunate that it is at this point of national security challenges that the Afizereshave chosen to misrepresent and misinterpret antecedents of conflicts in a ploy to drag the Berom nation into another round of conflict. This is coming at a time the nation and the state in particular through security agencies; traditional leaders, civil society organizations and the State Peace Building Agency are working assiduously to restore peace to the state and the nation in general.
The Afizere Youths appear to be bereft of the knowledge of their history by making public statements that are lacking in substance, logic, and historical facts to warrant any suitable response. One may wonder whether the press conference was done in consultation with their elders whom we presumed should know better.
It is an indisputable fact that the Afizeres were part of Bauchi in North Eastern Nigeria; it took the concerted efforts of the Berom elders who sympathetically hearkened to the plea of the Afizeres to be brought to Plateau state in 1976. This position is confirmed by the fact that before the 1976 split of Benue and Plateau state which brought about the creation of Plateau state, the Afizeres had no traditional rulership in Plateau state, Benue/Plateau state, or Plateau Province of the northern region or even as far back as the pre-colonial times. In Nigeria, it is a known fact that the colonial masters used indirect rule, that is,ruling through traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria. In the then Native Authority, the traditional rulers were in-charge of local administration.
It is only ethnic groups whose traditional rulers were ruling or part of the Native Administration that were owners of the land. It is not accidental that the Afizeres were not part of the traditional leadership structure in Plateau Province and later Plateau state. It is, therefore, strange for strangers like the Afizeres to be claiming ownership of land including Kwang they met already existing. The elders of both ethnic groups who worked together to bring the Afizeres to Plateau State will squirm in their graves when they hear of issues like these. A notable historian and writer, J. H. Morrison; a white man, during the colonial era in his book titled “Resistance to Jihadist Penetration” wrote on page 145, paragraph 2 thus:
“The Afusare were also internally divided by the Jihad. The conquered villages of Fobur, Fusa and Fadere acted as military agents for Bauchi, while theAfusare refugees in Du and a large contingent in Forum joined with Birom to fight Hausa raiders from the north and east.”
It is also unfortunate that these Afizere refugees accommodated in Du (By implication Kwang, Zot-Badin, Kos, Jishe and Dong) are back-biting their Landlordsby laying spurious claim to the lands. This is indeed very sad.
It is only recently that, in the last few years, the Afizeres using the privilege of their sons and daughters holding high positions in government embarked on a mission to distort and re-write history. They have wilfully started appointing themselves as ward heads and renaming some areas.
Let it be made clear that the history of Berom land, traditional or written is very rich, referring specifically to Kwang which has a long history. The identity of the village heads/hamlet heads of Kwang dating back to time immemorialis available but space will not allow us to reproduce the names in detail. We should quickly point out that Kwang village of Du District is wholly in Jos South LGA of Plateau state. Da Moses Bot Dung is the current acting Gwom Kwang from 2016 to date. Others include Da Dung Davou Pam of Lo-boggom (2004-2016), Da Bot Pwajok Nyam (1969-2004), Da Pwajok Nyam (1942-1969) all of blessed memory are some of the village heads who ruled in recent times. It should be noted that the Gwom Rwei Du/District Head of Du approves the appointment ofthe Gwom/Village head of Kwang.
It is therefore not true as the Afizeres sought to make out in their press release that Kwang is in Jos North.
For purposes of clarity and to set the records straight, Kwang and Dilimi in Berom refer to Creeks. These creeks are the source of the famous river Dilimi.Amongst the several creeks in the area, there is a particular one that is mangrove. It was an extensive dark creek which the Berom referred to as ‘Dulim’ meaning ‘dark enclosure’. The Hausas and other visitors who were housed and stationed at the Gold & Base Mining Camp could not pronounce it as ‘Dulim’ resorted to pronouncing it as “Dilimi or Delimi” which is clearly an adulteration of ‘Dulim’.
The Afizeresrefer to the word Kwanga as the adulterated version of Kakwang meaning “vast virgin land without enough soil for farming”. This is obviously not true, based on the following facts:
About 80 to 90% of the Afizere names generally are formed by the addition of a prefix or suffix to original Berom names. Hence ‘Kwanga’ is simply the addition of the suffix ‘a’ to the word ‘Kwang’.
Similarly, the word “Kakwang” is simply the addition of the prefix ‘Ka’ to the Berom word ‘Kwang’.
The entire Kwang area is an agrarian and mining community with sufficient and abundant fertile and arable land which the people cultivate all year round in contrast to submissions by the Afizeres.
It is a fact that Kwanga in Laminga, a hamlet in Fobur District of Jos East, after the creation of Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas in Plateau, Jos South and Jos East in 1991were one Local Government Area with headquarters in Bukuru. Between 1991 and 1993, Pastor Matthew Arin Adams was elected as Chairman of the then Jos South Local Government Area. The elected councillor who represented the people of Laminga (where the Afizere’s Kwanga is located) was Hon. Ajang Ajang. When Jos east LGA was created in 1996, all the Afizere areas were the ones that constituted the new LGA of Jos East while the remaining portions which were owned by the Berom were left in Jos South LGA. Kwanga is still in Laminga in Jos East while Kwang is still in Du District of Jos South LGA and no part of Kwang is in Jos East or in Jos North Local Government Areas.
With respect to their claims on INEC polling units 012, 018 and 019, these are vague for incomplete references. We wish to state that the Afizeres obviously in connivance with some vested interest in INEC gerrymandered some polling units from Jos South to Jos North. However, if the polling unit 019 is referring to PU:31/05/08/019, this polling unit has an official and original location which is the Department for National Civic Registration (DNRC)which is the present premises of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Lamingo Ward in Jos North LGA but was smuggled to the residence of Late Azi Abok Izang in Zot-Badin, Kwang, Jos South LGA for obvious reasons of laying claims to the land. We want to put on record that the following polling units are located in Kwang, Du ‘B’ ward in Jos South LGA: PU:31/06/02/011located beside Raphael Jahkim’s residence, while PU:31/06/02/020 is located beside Primary Health Care Centre, Kwang.
They also claimed that the Berom started calling Dilimi as Kwang only after the Jos 2001 crisis. This is not true. Documents abound to prove the long history of the use of the name Dililmi in Kwang.
That Dilimi area was exclusively occupied by the Hausas who came and settled for mining activities. This assertion is also not true since the settlement was a temporary mining camp provided by the good and hospitable people of Kwang and was occupied by miners of different tribes and nationalities. At the expiration of the lease, the ownership of land reverted to the original owners, the Berom who thennegotiated with the occupants on their own terms. The land owners are known and are Berom families of Du without exception; we have evidence of compensations for farmland disturbance when mining leases were acquired.
After the Jos 2001 crisis, a truce was brokered between the Berom and Hausa community which were documented but which the Hausa later reneged on. We have documents to back it up. The claim that it was the intervention of the Afizeres to quell and secure the land which led to the aggressors fleeing for fear of any uncertainty is laughable. This is of course a senseless and badly thought out lie. We urge the general public to refer to the Memorandum of Understanding which was brokered between the Berom and Hausa communities after the 2001 Jos crisis. The Afizeres, not owners of land in Kwang or occupantsthereof were obviously not a party to the said Memorandum of Understanding.
We wish to state thatthe Afizeres mentioned that the Berom encroached in areas such as health care centre, LGEA, COCIN and ECWA but failed to provide details of the locations to enable us respond. At best, this is speculative, and not worthy of any response from us but we wish to state that it only confirms the spurious nature of their claims.
In attacking the Jos Archdiocese, we dare say that it is blasphemous for the Afizeres to rubbish the revered institution of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos and the respected priests that they impugned. This is to say the least libellous.The Afizeres are seeking to take advantage of the fact that as a religious institution and respected religious leaders, the Church and the Rev. Fathers mentioned, will not descend so low to join issues with them. We would not have joined issues with them but for the need to correct the wrong impression otherwise the unsuspecting members of the general public may be deceived into accepting their lies. We know the Afizeres have respected leaders temporal and spiritual, we appeal to them to intervene by prevailing upon the AYM who were obviously sponsored, to tender unreserved apology both to the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos and the priests who were maligned by the AYM.The only fault of the priests is that they are Berom, which is most unfortunate. Let it be known that we havedocuments to prove the location of the land that was acquired by the Catholic Archdiocese is in Kwang. The Afizeres want to engage in media trial believing that they control the government and so use the instrumentality of the government to their advantage. Therefore, their resort to propaganda, using the media in order to malign the Berom. This is one in a series of their expansionist and land grabbing activities which they have been doing for some time with respect to Jishe, Dong, Mado, Kabong, Zot-Badin, Kwang and so many other areas.
Rather than split hairs on propaganda using the media, if the Afizere are convinced of the sincerity of their cause, they should go to court where we shall meet them with all the unassailable evidence of the ownership of our land.
To our dismay, the press statement by the AYM emphatically indicated that peace will not be guaranteed. This position by the AYM is a threat to peace and tranquillity and is targeted to thwart government’s effort in tackling security challenges bedevilling the entire country. Despite the security alert issued by the Inspector General of Police circulated in the public domain on an impending attack by the Boko Haram on FCT and Plateau, this would have been enough reason to put on hold any conflict related conference on trivial matters such as land/boundaries. The Security Agencies are called upon to hold the AYM responsible for any breach of peace within these areas of contention. In fact, it is obvious, the AYM must have had plans before this press release as the tone of their press release suggests.
Our prayers are:
We plead with the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos and the Priests mentioned to forgive the AYM and disregard their rantings.
We request INEC to kindly revert the polling unit PU:31/05/08/019 to its original location, which is at the NIMC office, Liberty Dam Road, Jos.
AYM and the general public should uphold the truth that Kwang exist in Du District and it is wholly in Jos South LGA.
The Government and security agencies should note the inflammatory statements in the press release and activities such as inscription of names on walls of people’s houses and destruction of Sign Boards.
God bless BYM, Du District,
God bless the BYM, Topp-Rayfield Branch(Du ‘B’), Du District,
God bless the Berom Nation and
God bless Plateau state.
RWAS JOHN N. CHOJI
BYM Chairman, Topp-Rayfield Branch(Du ‘B’)
Rwas Alex Dung
BYM Chairman, Du District.
Rwas John N. Choji
BYM Chairman, Topp-Rayfield Branch (Du ‘B’).
Rwas Gwong Dachung
BYM Chairman, Jishe Branch, Jos North LGA.
Rwas Yakubu Dung Pam
BYM Chairman, Kabong Branch, Jos North LGA.
Rwas Lawrence Loyak
BYM Chairman, Janda Branch, Jos North LGA.
1. The Executive Governor, Plateau State
2. Plateau State Commissioner of Police
3. Plateau State Director (SSS)
4. The Archbishop, Catholic Arc Diocese of Jos
5. The National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC)
6. The General Manager, Plateau Radio Television Corporate (PRTV), Jos, Plateau State.