…Development Or Land Grabbing Mischief?
While the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended gives the State Government control over allocation of lands, it does not give them absolute control without taking into consideration the rights of the aboriginal settlers of a particular area. Therefore, when land allocations and demarcations are mapped out for intended development and industrialization programs, the original settlers are clearly put in the picture of such programs and carried along in the implementation process. This is the norm everywhere around the world.
Unfortunately, for the Bassa Community in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State who have been living in their ancestral Homeland for close to four hundred (400) years are now faced with the fear and dilemma of losing their ancestral Homeland and farmlands to a well calculated design of mischief championed by the Nasarawa State government in the guise of ‘industrialization’.
It is a well known fact that the Bassa Community in Toto LGA have been in exile since April 2018 as a result of an ill-fated communal crisis which displaced them from their Homeland. Little has been done by the State government to return them back home and resettle them in their various villages and communities; instead, the Nasarawa State government decide to take advantage of their weakness and came up with a mischievous and diabolical plot to rob them of their birthright by signing MoUs with companies in their absence, a move which directly affects their birthrights without prior considering how it will affect their livelihood as an agrarian community whose entire livelihood is tied to farming. In its quest to disenfranchise the Bassa people of their rightful ownership to their lands, farmlands, settlements, schools plots and even Churches/Mosques belonging to the Bassas were not left out. We are saddened that these diabolical schemes are happening under the watch of His Excellency, Engr. A.A Sule, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State who is a Muslim scholar to some extent.
I want to personally appreciate HRH, Alh Usman Abdullahi the Ohimege Opanda for the bold step he took to announce the end of hostilities between the Bassas and Egburas, this will surely go a long way in the restoration of permanent peace. But the questions that are begging for answers are: where will our affected people settle when they return? The said twenty thousand, four hundred and fifty (20,450) hecters, where does it begin and end? How much is the compensation money and what is the sharing formular for it the beneficiaries? How long is the duration of lease? What are the set rules for community engagement?
In the light of the above, I would like to stress that the Bassa Community will not sit back and die in silence while her people are being robbed and wrongfully disenfranchised of their God given right. I would like to remind the government of Nasarawa State that the crisis which saw the Bassas driven out of their homes was not a Jihad, therefore, their lands and properties CANNOT be confiscated as booties of war.
While the Bassa Community in Toto LGA has gone through the menace of crisis under the Administrations of late Capt. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Col. Bala Muhammadu Mende (retd), H.E. Distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu, H.E. late Aliyu Ake Doma and H.E. Distinguished Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, none of these noble elderly statesmen have done such injustice to the Bassa Communities.
Let H.E. Engr. Abdullahi A Sule ask H.E. Prof. Babagana Zulum of Borno State who’s state is also besieged with crisis and has IDPs whether that is how he sold all the lands of his people in the name of development.
Personally, I don’t think any Bassa individual is against development, but what we are saying is that matters directly affecting the people should be handle appropriately with due consideration of the interest of the people in question.
Finally, I want to remind H.E. Engr. A.A Sule that The end cannot justify the means in a situation where the means itself is not JUSTIFIED.
Alhaji Ahmad Yusuf Gimba,
Concerned Bassa Community,