Bagana Killings: Bloodbath Beyond Politics

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Bagana is one of the riverine settlement located on the shores of the River Niger in the present day Omala local government area of Kogi State. Aside the strategic location of Bagana village, it is a business hub reputed for the supposedly defunct trade by barter system of transaction.

Till date, traders and farmers visit Bagana on its market days to exchange commodities. For instance, due to its location, local inhabitants are predominantly fishermen, they sometimes exchange their fishes for grains and other farm items depending on their needs. Some other traders also visit Bagana from far and near to sell or exchange their goods. With the aid of canoes and water boats, traders can sail from neighboring Benue and Nasarawa States to Bagana in Kogi State to sell their goods on market days.

The aborigines are hospitable to visitors, traders and clergies but are not always defeated by intruders or looters who made frantic efforts to attack the town in the time past. In other words, the people of Bagana are known for their unbowed spirit which never suffered the cowardice effects of intimidation, oppression or subjugation according to history.

However, the ugly clamps of modern day aberrations took a swipe on Bagana village between Saturday, 6th April 2019 and Sunday, 7th April. Many houses were razed down with about seven persons killed including a detachment of mobile policemen who were deployed to the scene to quell the attack.

According to residents, the incursion and subsequent attack that left the town flowing with blood was allegedly perpetrated by armed Fulani herdsmen who gained access to Bagana village through Ogba, a neighboring town after sailing across the River Niger.

In the aftermaths of the ugly incidence which left gloomy faces of tears in Bagana, leaving the inhabitants to count their loss and mourn the bereaved, politicians without fear and respect for the dead are striving in vain to showcase their penchant act of insensitivity to the plights of the masses who always suffer the wrath of maladministration and bad leadership style.

It is noteworthy that Kogi State government at the peak of the crisis deployed a team of security personnel to the scene which unarguably repelled the attack. It is applaudable however the attack would have been prevented owing to the fact that local inhabitants got information of the impending invasion before the terrorists struck. Bagana village was almost deserted when the attackers arrived which is believed lessened the number of casualties recorded.

I want to plead with Governor Yahaya Bello to fulfill his pledge of a military outpost in Bagana while soliciting to the local warriors to sheath their swords for justice to prevail by allowing the law to take its course. Any reprisal attack is tantamount to further crisis because peace can only be achieved when the remote and immediate causes of the attack is unraveled.

Politicians, political pundits, social media prophets and prophetess of dooms are strongly advised to keep mute over sensitive issues especially at times like this in order not to heat the already heated polity.

The greatest bargain for peace is a timely and effective dialogue. To this end, this is not a time for blame game or for political gamblers to play hide and seek games by leading the shepherd astray.

It is time for stakeholders, team players and the identified aggrieved parties to sit down on a round table and seek for a long lasting / ending solution to the lingering crisis without interest or favour.

Just like in most middle belt States of Nigeria, this is not the first time we are recording casualties in Omala perhaps due to farmers/herdsmen clashes, with this background, residents and local inhabitants should be consulted to know the last straw that broke the Carmel’s back.

For the lingering crisis in Omala Local Government to end, we must erase politics from the drawing board. The crisis in Omala is beyond politics and it is more than what meets the eyes but what we need at the moment is a peaceful dialogue because the provision of temporary security architecture will not solve the problems. Securities will not be deployed to secure the farmlands which is fast becoming a duel ground.

Conclusively, the idea of peace talks should not solely be vested as a task set aside for the government because politics can easily be featured to ruin the terms of agreement. Traditional rulers, stakeholders, private bodies and Non Governmental Organizations should be co-opted to partake in the proposed dialogue seeking for peace in Omala nation.

In my personal assessment, I strongly believe the last attack recorded in Bagana is beyond politics. For instance, mobile policemen were also killed during the attack, they are not members of any political party. The bloodbath in Bagana is beyond politics. However, allegations of the intruders displaying land documents laying claims to the territory should not be treated with levity. Before then, the following posers should set the pace for proper investigation:

1. Was there a point in time the territory was allocated to anyone by proxy or legally documented?

2. Who signed the agreements or documents?

3. Who first raised the issues of invaders showcasing land documents?

4. Did the attackers leave behind any copy of such documents?

5. Can any eyewitness report corroborate such information or misinformation?

The aforementioned posers should be invoked and utilized as a paradigm to investigate such allegations. It should not be trashed.

On the whole, it is not a crime to debate on the recent ugly incidence that happened in Bagana but it amounts to the gravest crime to humanity if this sad occurrence is swept under the rug for political gain.

As opined earlier, blame game is a deviating apparatus which cannot yield any positive results rather it would further escalate the crisis because actors would flex the best muscles of their political power to win sympathy or apathy while the crisis reoccur.

Secondly, blame game can also divert the attention of the government which is supposed to be the most effective arm to quench the  inferno.

Above all, no leader or leaders should toil with the cry of the masses because it is the fundamental route to future crisis.

I commiserate with the good people of Bagana at such a critical time. We must all be security conscious by avoiding the pathway leading to future crisis but embrace the best icon of peace which is the greatest asset of development in every nation. No group or individual should sabotage any prudent effort aimed at burying the long term differences because terrorism is not restricted to a particular location, it is Bagana today; tomorrow it can happen in your location.

– Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

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