The United States-based nonprofit organization, Aghem Family and Development Association, AFADA-USA has petitioned President Paul Biya over rising killings of indigenous Aghem people by armed Aku-Hausas in Wum, Menchum division of the North West region.
In the petition letter circulated recently, the group requested President Biya to act swiftly and decisively against Aku-Hausa youth, civil administrators, and military officers involved in the 2019 and 2021 targeted killings of indigenous peoples of Aghem in Wum.
The petition letter draws the attention of the Head of State “to the systemic acts of massacres in Wum”.
“We of AFADA-USA are alarmed and disheartened by the repeated heinous and targeted attacks on the peace-loving and hospitable people of Aghem by Aku and Hausa youth in recent years with the tacit approval of administrative and security officials” the petitioners wrote.
The letter then cites the most recent “targeted killing and genocidal crimes”.
It recalled that “On 18 October 2021, the world witnessed inexcusable and targeted killings as Aku-Hausa armed groups attacked the indigenous people of Aghem, destroying their properties. According to reports from local witnesses and victims, three Aghems were brutally killed and dismembered, three were seriously injured, and several persons remain unaccounted for. Additionally, nearly seven contiguous villages experienced looting, and there was a burning of 35 residential homes and 16 business premises – including individual property, leaving at least 254 persons homeless”.
The letter notes that “two palaces of traditional authorities were burnt”.
The petitioners were categorical that the loss of the Aghem lives was unquantifiable in monetary terms.
“However, the economic loss and property damage incurred by Aghems and the community in the six affected villages is projected to exceed 80 million FCFA” they disclosed.
The letter then described how Aku-Hausa youth gruesomely killed one Pa Gunghu John Mvo, 87, a disabled-entrepreneur-elderly citizen, in his business premise.
According to the letter, “the armed group collected his money, looted his goods and personal property and then set the business structure ablaze”.
“…finally, the attackers threw the blood-soaked body of Pa Gunghu John Mvo into the burning building” the letter narrated on.
Surprisingly, according to the letter, “these acts all happened before helpless family and community members, including crying women and children, who saw their loved one roasted to ashes”.
The letter pointed the Head of State to several publicly available reports, photos, and videos, which could offer him a rare sneak peek into some possible never-before-seen material at the level of the Presidency.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the President to have access to undiluted and unfiltered information from community organizations unlike official reports first coming from local government officials via divisional delegates, then by regional delegates and governors to ministers, and finally into the corridors of the Presidency” they continued.
“Attacks by armed Aku-Hausa groups have become more strategic and well-coordinated. The first genocidal crime was recorded in 2019 when the same armed Aku-Hausa youth attacked Aghem indigenes resulting in at least 24 deaths, 52 maimed citizens, and the disappearance of several citizens” the petitioners told Biya.
“More so, the armed Aku-Hausa youth used petrol and burned and destroyed more than 62 residential homes, 13 business premises and structures, and, most shockingly, two palaces of traditional authorities of two fondoms in Wum” it added.
Why Biya must intervene now
They said the scale of attacks and damage is clearly shown by selective and authoritative records provided to the Head of State by AFADA-USA.
“As mentioned previously, the loss of 24 Aghem lives is unquantifiable in monetary terms, but the economic loss and property damage resulting from these large-scale attacks by the armed Aku-Hausa youths in the affected villages has been estimated to surpass 60 million FCFA” they said.
“There is reason to believe that the military in Wum is pitching armed Aku-Hausa youth against unarmed and vulnerable Aghem indigenous peoples” the petitioners claim before calling on Biya to view the raw video and judge the involvement of appointed officials and members of the military, as well as law enforcement services, in instigating inter-ethnic conflicts in Wum seriously undermining his vision of vivre ensemble.
“The 1:40-minute video concludes with the soldiers claiming that there is nothing they (the soldiers) could do to stop the Aku-Hausa youth from executing their genocidal plan,” explained the letter.
Beyond drawing President Biya’s attention to the genocidal crimes against Aghem indigenous peoples by well-known armed Aku-Hausa youth under the complacent eyes of government administrators, military, and law enforcement officials in Wum, AFADA-USA has requested that the President issues directives for the government to take strong and decisive actions as an immediate, medium and long-term solution.
They have urged the Head of State to ensure that there are no further attacks on the indigenous people of Aghem, their businesses, and property, palaces of traditional authorities, or sacred ancestral objects.
The group is also pressing for the arrest, prosecution and sanctioning of the known perpetrators of the said heinous crimes and criminal behavior who are currently still freely roaming the streets in Wum.
“We call on the local and international press, humanitarian organizations, and all people and institutions of goodwill to shine a light on these despicable events so that these may not be repeated on the people of Aghem or elsewhere” they concluded.
AFADA-USA, it should be said is a non-profit organization registered in the state of Maryland, USA.
It aims to bring together indigenous peoples of Aghem origin who are resident in the USA and Canada.
The group’s principal objective is to support local development initiatives to improve the well being of people within the Wum Council Municipality in Menchum Division of the North West region.