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Struggling to stop killings

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Struggling to stop killings

Plateau State that was mostly known as home of Peace and Tourism seems to have permanently lost its serenity and beauty of peace. For past one week, there had been trouble, tension and killings in the state. Musa Pam reports

 

There had been another round of killings and attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in some villages of the state.

Usually, the killings are always carried out by unknown gunmen while the villagers insisted that the suspected Fulani herdsmen in collaboration with some security officials of their axis are the killers.

It would be recalled that August 28, eight persons, including a Pastor, his wife and three children were killed in Abonong Village in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State during attack of the village by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The attackers burnt the lead Pastor of COCIN Local Church Council, Abonong, Rev Gyang Wurim and his three children, Wurim, Dung and Theophilus. His wife, Jummai was shot in the bathroom where she was hiding while the other victim, Aaron Yakubu was killed on his way home. Following the attack, the Fulani herdsmen also stole more than 300 cows.

New Telegraph gathered that the Fulani herdsmen rounded the pastor’s house and set it on fire. Rev. Gyang, who was the Pastor in charge of the church’s branch in Abonong village in Foron district got burnt beyond recognition with his children in his bedroom while his wife was shot in the bathroom.

Chairman of the Berom Youth Movement, Foron branch, Mr. Thomas Tsok, confirmed to New Telegraph that the attackers armed with machetes and AK47 riffles reportedly stormed the village at about 8pm, shooting sporadically and burning houses.

“They first shot at two young men walking out of the village where they had gone to charge their phones at the deceased Pastor’s house, killing one and wounding the other. More than 95 houses were also set ablaze by the attackers,” he said.

Tsok added that the attackers who destroyed furniture and other facilities of the COCIN Church Abonong mowed down grown maize crops across 15 farms to create a road to the target village.

According to him, more than 54 families and households are currently taking refuge at the LGEA Primary school NAFOK as internally displaced persons after the attackers burnt down their houses, food crops and their farms land.

The Village Head of Nafok Da Gyang, Pam Wang, disclosed that, “our youths are in the bush looking for more dead bodies after one week. It is just now that the security has given us the support to go and find other corpses that might be lying there in the bush.”

 

The Berom Nation of Plateau State in a joint statement on Thursday signed by General Secretary, Berom Educational and Cultural Education (BECO), Da. Davou Choji Davou; President, Berom Women Development Association (BEWDA), Mrs Florence Jambol and President, Berom Youth Moulders Association (BYM) Choji Chuwang, called on government and security agencies in the country to fish out killer herdsmen. “The past three weeks have been very bloody for the Berom residents following sustained and coordinated attacks by killer herdsmen, which have left more than 20 of our people dead. More than 225 farmlands with crops such as maize, guinea corn, sweet potatoes, beneseed, Funio, Finger and assorted vegetables estimated at millions of naira and waiting to be harvested were all destroyed.

 

The Berom Nation condemned in totality, the dastardly and unprovoked attacks on their communities and wanton destruction of farmlands and crops by these cruel and heart”We are more worried that these attacks are taking place at a time security is said to have been heightened within and around the affected communities in the wake of 28 June-2nd July 2018 attacks on communities in Riyom and Barkin-Ladi LGA in which more than 200 innocent souls were murdered.

 

“The attack is coming at a period the Berom nation and indeed all people of goodwill are still mourning the massacre of their compatriots and exploring ways of returning the more than 38,000 displaced persons to their places of abode.

 

“To these, rampaging militia, the Berom nation wishes to restate in clear and unambiguous terms that we will not cede an inch out of our God giving territory through conquest. For us, what is playing out at the moment is the dismal failure of Government and the security agencies to give our communities the desire security cover against the invaders. We equally call on international humanitarian and philanthropic organisations as well as people of goodwill to urgently come to the aid of our people who have been displaced from their ancestral home by providing relief materials and Medicare.”

 

Tragedy struck again Sunday night of September 2nd, with over 14 persons killed in two separate fresh attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Jos South and Bassa Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

 

The killings came at the time when the governor of the state, Simon Lalong, was in Beijing, China, with President Muhammadu Buhari for the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation scheduled to hold from September 3 to 4.

 

The latest killings came barely 24 hours after the alarm raised by the Executive Director of Stephanos Foundation, a civil rights’ organisation, Mark Lipdo, of fresh plots by the herdsmen to attack some villages in the State.

 

He said, “It is rumoured that the Fulani will sweep over Berom Land on (Sunday) September 2. This was how all the past attacks were rumoured and the security operatives took it for granted until hundreds were wiped out, some in their sleep.

 

“What will the security operatives do? Sit down do nothing until blood is spilled? God! Arise and defend the cause of the defenseless in the land. It is another rumour, but today rumours seem to be more authentic than government information. So sad!”

 

New Telegraph learnt that in one of the attacks which took place at a community called Latya around Du village, close to Dogo Nahawa, the herdsmen came on motorbikes and shot indiscriminately at the villagers killing 12 persons on the spot.

 

During the second incident, the assailants were said to have laid an ambush on their victims in Adu village in Kwall District, Bassa LGA around 11pm and shot at their targets.

 

An eye witness who spoke to New Telegraph and wouldn’t want his name on print said, “My community in Latya and Lakwandet, close to Guratopp in Rayfield Jos South came under attack by some gunmen. They shot and killed people. At least, I personally counted over eleven corpses.

“They came in a Hilux. Alighted in the community and began shooting people at will. Some were in their shops and were shot to death. In a commando style, all these killings took less than 5 minutes to execute and the killers zoomed off before anyone could raise alarm. It happened too suddenly.

 

Member representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives Abuja Hon. Istifanus Dung Gyang condemned the incessant killings in Barkin Ladi LGC of the State. He said the attacks are coming at a time when the people are yet to recover from the massacre of over 200 persons in the same B/Ladi LGA with thousands of the displaced victims still languishing in IDP camps!

 

“Until decisive action is taken by the Nigerian government against the killer herdsmen to stop ethnic cleansing and land grabbing, the presumption is simply that of acquiescence and complicity for which the government shall one day, be held accountable for crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

 

The Lawmaker appeals to his constituents who are lovers of peace to remain hopeful, prayerful and committed to peace making despite the current setbacks.

 

Leader of the Elders Former Governor of Plateau State Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun said the incessant attacks obviously points to the fact that the Nation’s security system has been compromised, and that government lacks the will and capacity to resolve the challenges to peace and security within the state.

 

“We join similar voices across the length and breadth of the land to call on President Buhari to use his moral and constitutional responsibility as President, Commander-in-Chief to protect our people and the land from these ruthless and inhuman attacks,” he said.

 

However, the Peoples Democratic Party Plateau Chapter has describes as saddened the killings of the innocent persons in Jos South Local government of Plateau State. Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the State Hon. John Akans in a Statement condemned the constant killings of innocent Plateau people.

 

“These ugly and unwanted killings have been going on, even when we have security check points everywhere within and outside the state capital.

 

“It is unfortunate and embarrassing that Governor Lalong went on lobbying the Presidency to be part of Mr. President’s visit to China. Most disheartening is the fact that when his request was turned down, out of desperation and lack of priority, he travelled on his own to meet with the President in China, leaving his people in a traumatised condition,” he said.

 

Reacting to the incident, Governor Simon Lalong condemned the heinous attack on Doi community of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State. Lalong in Press Statement signed by his Commissioner for Information and communication Hon. Yakubu Dati condemned the attack in its entirety and has instructed the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators, as they ensure the safety and security of the immediate environment and the entire state.

The statement advised youths in the state to resist any temptation to self-help as it would be playing to the script of the perpetrators whose ultimate aim is to return the state to the dark era of bloodletting. “The Plateau State Government has ordered the security agencies to redouble their efforts in performing their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property. Members of the public are further enjoined to be vigilant and report all suspicious movements to the nearest security agencies.

Following the persistent attacks and recent, a Catholic Peace advocate agency, Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) has held an inter-faith prayer session of Muslim/Christian faiths heads of security agencies and community leaders. The prayer session was held recently at DREP Secretariat, Kwang, Jos south local government area of the state, with 158 Peace Stakeholders in attendance.

 

Plateau State Deputy governor Prof Sonni Tyoden who was part of the prayer session said the event was timely, due to the increasing unrest occurring in the state. He described the attacks and recent killings of the COCIN Pastor and his family as unfortunate. According to him, the insecurity challenges bedeviling Plateau citizens’ needs spiritual and divine intervention. “The prayer session organised by (DREP) is timely, because, I feel, part of our problem as a people is spiritual. We must re-examine ourselves, particularly where we have wrong one another and ask God for true forgiveness.”

Addressing participants at the prayer session earlier, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev Dr. Ignatius Kaigama admonished citizens in the state to live in peace.

Bishop Kaigama who is the immediate past President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria said peace cannot be achieved without harmonious living. “We have realised that guns, cutlasses, bows and arrows, spear, charms, cannot bring peace,” he emphasised.

 

The commissioner of Police Plateau state Undie Adie, and the commander Operation safe Heaven Gen Austin Agundu who are in charge of internal security, among heads of security agencies attended the prayer meeting. Others who attended the prayer session include traditional and community and opinion leaders across Plateau state.

Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that majority of the communities are optimistic that the tension currently in Plateau state over attacks would “go down’’ if IDPs returned to their homes, because there is fear of imminent starvation if the farmers were not assisted to return to the farms.

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