Map of Plateau State used to demonstrate the story.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The Fuanter family in Shendam local government area, Plateau State has taken a swipe at a section of the media over what it termed as a ploy to spread falsehood through misleading publications to whip up sentiment that will throw the State into another round of ethno-religious violence.

The family referred to repeated publications on a national daily, against its members, the Shendam Traditional Council and the citizens of Shendam LGA over disputed land in the Tudun Wada community of Shendam which had been laid to rest via a court judgment.

Recalling that the said national daily had within two weeks, reported a purported dislodgment of some persons in the community and the family faulted the reports saying they don’t reflect the true situation of the case but the medium is being used to “achieve a sinister religious and ethnic agenda in Plateau state.”

Reacting to the said reports, Thomas Fuanter, the Head of the Fuanter Family in a statement issued in Jos on Wednesday said, “It has become obvious that a campaign of calumny is been sponsored by unknown forces using a medium of mass communication against the Fuanter Family in Shendam local government, the Shendam Traditional Council and the peace-loving people of Shendam LGA of Plateau state.

“Two publications done within a week interval were deliberately done to weep up ethnic and religious sentiments and to portray the Fuanter family in a bad light and smear her reputation as a peace-loving family. The publications are also aiming at wiping up ethnic and religious sentiments in its usual attempt to divert the attention of the Nigerian public from the reality of the land dispute involving the Fuanter family and the illegal occupants. A case of a thief challenging the rightful owner of the property.”

Mr. Fuanter explained that “These malicious and mischievous publications were crafted from a land dispute between the Fuanter family of Shendam and one Mohammadu Bashiru, Abbas Ahmadu Tega and Yusuf Baga. The Plateau State High Court had since 2022 decided the case in favour of the Fuanter family. The court thereby in addition to its judgement and orders issued the Fuanter’s family the Writ of Possession of the disputed land.

“When it became obvious that the illegal occupants were not ready to obey the orders of the court, the Plateau State High Court in June 2023 moved to enforce its judgement by sealing off the whole disputed area. Despite the Court action, Muhammadu Bashiru, Abbas Ahmadu Tega and Yusuf Baga in flagrant disobedience of the Court judgement decided to break the Court seals and took possession of the land and properties.

“And to introduce their religious sentiments into the matter, the same people simply erected a mosque on the disputed land to give the matter a religious colouration. On noticing that, the Fuanter family immediately reported to the Police and arrests were made and some individuals were charged to Court for criminal trespass and contempt of Court. The case is still pending before the Shendam Area Court.

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“While this was happening, the Fuanter Family who are desirous of a peaceful resolution of the matter approached the Sarkin Hausawa, the Ulama, and Muslim elders in Shendam to midwife a process where all those who have houses on the disputed land be allowed to pay minimal compensation to the Fuanter family and keep their houses. This as laudable as it were, the culprits refused to even honour the invitations to the peace meeting.

“In order to avoid any crisis on the matter, the Sarkin Hausawa and the Muslim elders took the matter before the Long Goemai of Shendam but again, Yusuf Baga, Abbas Ahmadu Tega and Mohammadu Bashiru blatantly refused to honor the invitation of the Paramount ruler.”

He further stressed that “Having attempted all peaceful efforts of ensuring the enjoyment of the benefit of their judgement, the Fuanter family went back to the State High Court with a petition seeking for full execution of the judgment. A decision which shall entail the demolition of all the properties on the land.

“Given the facts above, it become laughable when a group of people found by the law to be criminals would deliberately prefer to go about wiping up religious sentiment just because they have a medium, they could use to distort the facts and propagate their sentiments. The peace-loving Faunter family simply adopted the due process of the rule of law to reclaim what rightly belong to them.

“One then wonders why, despite the facts presented above, someone would want to drag the good name of Shendam LGA, the Nigerian Police to the mud just to dubiously claim someone’s property. It is noteworthy to state that Shendam local government has enjoyed more than a century of peaceful coexistence with numerous ethnic nationalities residing in and around the LGA with no trace of religious animosity among residents.

“Genuine Muslims anywhere in the world that truly worship Allah, will appeal against the judgement of the state high court if you think you have a good case. But leaving the path of justice to embark on trading on people’s emotions is not only laughable but incitive. What the law cannot give you, sentiment through false publications in all media in the world will not give you.”