We wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian press to the state of insecurity in the Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi State vis avis the various efforts that has been made by some people to present the current assault on the Igala community in Bassa LGA as orchestrated by Igala people.
We wish to state that the current crisis in Bassa LGA is very unfortunate and the loss of lives and property regrettable and everything should be done to bring the crisis under control and the various ethnic nationalities in Bassa LGA embrace not only peace but economic development for the sustenance and prosperity of the people of the LGA.
Our people, the Igala people have a long history of having lived peacefully with all the people of the other ethnic nationalities that live within Bassa LGA in Kogi State including Ebira Mozum, Bassa Kwomu and Bassa Nge.
History is very careful to let the world know of the events that caused the Bassa people to leave their original settlements and the hospitality of the Igala people to receive them into their present abode. A part of Igala people had lived on this ancestral land before the coming of the visitors. Some of the Igala men and people currently displaced by the present crisis, who are over seventy years old, were born in the present day Bassa LGA . These Igala people know no other home than Bassa LGA.
Several reports were received in the past from our people in Bassa LGA of threats to kill them if they do not leave the LGA for them. This is very laughable. For the Igala people in Bassa LGA to go to where? The present day Bassa was carved out of Dekina LGA and the Igala people at that time didn’t ask the Bassa Kwomu people to go back to where they came from or to leave their land when they were in that LGA. Why then is this threat in this modern age against the people who had lived there before the naming of Bassa LGC?
The threat against Igala people has been taken to a higher level by Bassa Kwomu people who are asking Igala people to stop all forms of economic activity within the LGA, particularly cashew farming and leave the LGA. Igala people across Kogi East Senatorial District are into cashew farming and only recently hosted successfully the maiden edition of Er’oli Ane Igala Cultural Carnival where the gift of cashew, the best specie and highest volume in Nigeria being produced in Igala land, adding value to the GDP, was celebrated!
Unfortunately the rest of Igala people across Kogi East didn’t take this threat seriously before now. Report was received that about twenty five people suspected to be Bassa Kwomu indigenes attacked an Igala cashew farmer in Bassa LGA and tied him on his farm to kill him when someone raised an alarm and the hoodlums ran away.
Report was also received of Bassa Kwomu people destroying the cashew farms of Igala people without provocation. The aggrieved were asked to report the matter to the Police.
Report was further received that Bassa Kwomu people attacked same Igala man on his farm and killed him eventually in order to take over his cashew farm. The son of the attacked man was able to escape to alert the community who went to retrieve the body of their community member. Uptil today the body of the Igala cashew farmer has not been found. The scaling up of the provocation has led to death and reprisal attack and burning of houses in the area.
It was noticed that the Chairman of the LGC, Hon. Alumka and the member representing the Bassa people in the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon Sunday Shigaba have both taken sides in fuelling the crisis and giving wrong reports in favour of the Bassa Kwomu people and inviting both Police and members of the military to deal with Igala people, which has further escalated the crisis.
At this point we wish to demand the following;
1)Immediate cessation of hostility in the Bassa LGA, particularly against Igala people.
2)The immediate removal of Hon Alumka as Administrator of the LGC to prevent further crisis
3)The Honourable member in the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon Sunday Shigaba is called upon to demonstrate leadership and see himself as an arbiter, and not as someone actively fueling the crisis, not only between Igala and Bassa Kwomu people but also between Bassa Kwomu people and other ethnic nationalities within the LGA because his people are in the majority.
4)The Kogi State Government is called upon to constitute a Judicial Panel of Enquiry to unearth immediate and remote causes of the crisis in order to determine ways of forestalling reoccurrence.
5)That Igala people who are indigenes of Bassa LGA be allowed their constitutional rights to live freely and embark on economic activities that will cause them to thrive and provide income for Bassa LGA.
6) All forms of relief materials must target not only affected Bassa Kwomu people but must be made to go round all affected people in all the ethnic nationalities involved, including Igala people
7)The Aguma of Bassa is called upon to appeal to his people, the Bassa Kwomu people, to return the body of the Igala cashew farmer immediately and stop forthwith public comments that Igala people are not part of Bassa LGA which his people in and out of public offices have used to create this crisis.”
Coalition of Igala Socio-Political Groups