Stories by Yakubu Wuyep, Jos
There are strong indications that Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State would visit President Muhammadu Buhari soon to brief him on the tense security situation in the state following the continued blame game among the various groups and leaders over the recent gruesome massacre of 29 persons in Bassa Local Government by suspected herdsmen. Community and religious leaders and associations are yet to fully come to terms with the killings following the suspicion that more attacks are feared in the following weeks.
A top government official who preferred to remain anonymous said the governor would meet the President immediately he arrives from his official trip to Turkey and discuss ways to finding lasting peace to the risky security situation in the state.
He said: “We are faced with a very complex situation in which it is hard to say who is really behind the killings. These are communities that have lived together for over 150 years, Fulani and the local people intermarrying, living peacefully together and then suddenly you are hearing herdsman behind attack. Honestly, we suspect an international terrorism network aiding killer merchants to divide the people and cause insecurity”
He said because the killing of 29 persons in Bassa LGA was the culmination of a series of attacks over a three weeks period, there is tension in the state because nobody knows which village would be attacked next.
Meanwhile the blame game and fault finding continues as the government meet with stakeholders and the security to bring order and sanity to the state.
Soldiers Aided the Genocide in Bassa Community, Irigwe Development Association Tells media
The Irigwe Development Association has accused the soldiers for tactically urging them to remain indoors for safety while the assailants connived to killed 29 of their people .
The spokesman of the Irigwe Development Association, Hon Sunday Abdu in a press conference held at the NUJ, Plateau state council on Monday evening in Jos, said the organisation is dissatisfied with the operations of the military in Bassa LGA following renew killings of their people by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Abdu said his association does not doubt the capacity of the nation’s military to safeguard the lives of the civilian population but demanded a more proactive stand on issues bordering of safety of lives and property.
”We are not questioning their capacity or sagacity. We are only saying that if we have securities in this country, let them prove it to us,” it said.
The IDA questioned the motive behind the recent curfew imposed on the local government by the state government, saying it has given the assailants freehand to operate while holding the locals from defending themselves.
It expressed worry over the manner government has responded to the conflict in the LGA, fearing the possibility of a large humanitarian disaster in the state.
It therefore called on other ethnic nationalities in the state to rise up in defence of their vulnerable groups and safeguard the future of the state.
He said; “the entire Irigwe Nation in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State wishes to let the world know that since the gruesome attack on Ncha Village on the 7th September, 2017, where more than twenty people were killed, mostly women and children and houses razed, Rigwe land has not known peace.
“It should be known today, that since the Ncha incident, the assailants have continued to launch nightly attacks in our communities, in line with their earlier threat that Ncha was just the beginning.
“We have continually woken up to news of attacks each day leaving tears, sorrow, despair and apprehension.
“For the avoidance of doubt, here are details of some of the attacks after Ncha: Hukke – 9th September, 2017 – 2 persons killed including a soldier, Nkie Dongwro – 8th October – 1 killed and another wounded. Kpachudu – 10th October – A young man, Solomon Elisha killed allegedly by a Mobile Policeman, member of STF.
Nzhweruvo and Tafigana – 11th October, – 3 dead and houses razed down. Rikwe Chongu – 12th October, – Houses razed down.
Taegbe – 14th October, – 6 dead, 5 injured and houses razed. Nkyie Doghwro – 16th October – 29 dead, 3 injured at a School used as a Camp and protected by security.
“At all these locations, and in all these attacks, lives as already stated above, our people lost their lives, houses razed, leaving in their wake, tears, sorrow and despair.
“It is painful to note that all these happened despite useful timely information provided to security personnel, regarding movement and mode of operation of the assailants.
“These attacks have continue in sequence and unstopped while no single attacker has been arrested by the security agents who will rather arrest and detain helpless natives on suspicion of possessing any form of weapon for self defence.
“We have had course to bail so many of our youths from security agencies, while many are still languishing in detention, while no single Fulani herdsman has been arrested since the Ncha attack despite after we provide relevant informations, eg handset found on the scene during the attack. We ask, where is the justice?
Much as we understand the steps taken by Government through the deployment of security personnel to our area, we will like to state here that the much anticipated respite has eluded us, except constant harrassment of our people at the various check points mounted by the security.
“We had thought that since the invader emanate from the hills and bushes, they will deploy their energies and expertise there. You will recall that our women in apparent dissatisfaction with the security agencies non performance, staged a protest in Jebbu Miango. Although many have questioned their move, we consider it a desperate act by mothers who alone know the pains of child birth and seeing their youths being killed every day definitely elicits such reaction.
“Since the outbreak of these orchestrated attacks aimed at wiping our people from the face of the earth, we have held series of meetings with various stakeholders including security and the Fulani, but the Fulani have continue to be in denial of sponsoring these attacks, nothing has changed.
‘In reaction to this continuous annihilation of our people, the Plateau State Government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in our area. We had viewed this as a relief, but not knowing that it will yet, open another avenue for the Fulani attackers to operate unhindered, while our people are caged by the curfew, which the security men enforce religiously. This is unfortunate!
“We had expected that by now, given the presence of security personnel, the attackers if not arrested would have been driven away, but it seems the security personnel are only bent on mounting check points and operating questionable cordon and search operations for non existing weapons in our peoples home.
If our people had such as they are looking for, we would rather deploy them to protecting our land than hide them at home.
“As we speak, a humanitarian situation looms in our land, as women and children have been displaced, while feeding is becoming impossible in homes that have accepted internal refugees. And this has spilled into Jos, where women and children stream in to find refuge with relations.
“Our people cannot go to their farms anymore, even as harvest is near for fear of attacks by herdsmen who openly graze on ripe crops.
“We will like to state here also, that no aid agency, government or private has visited our land to provide relief materials, we are left at the mercy of our fate.
PDP Charges Lalong , Security Agencies to Take proactive Measures To End Killings
Former Minister of Sports and state Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP), Hon Damishi Sango has called on the state government and the security agencies to take proactive measure to put stop to sectarian crisis and prevent further attacks on innocent citizens in the Plateau State.
In a press statement sign by the publicity secretary ,Mr John Akan made available to our medium during the week in Jos, he cautioned against the rising tension amidst the sporadic attacks and senseless killings, adding that the imposition of dust to dawn curfew was not enough.
This is a disdainful challenge to the authority of the government in Plateau and a sinister act of aggression against the collective humanity of Plateau people.
He said: “Government should as a matter of urgency work with relevant security agencies and stakeholders to unveil those behind the marauders who are an authority by themselves since they can neither be confronted, deterred nor be investigated or apprehended.
“The party sympathises with the people of Miango community in particular and Bassa local government in general over this dastardly act of inhumanity. We condemn this act of wickedness in it’s totality .
“And we encourage the people of Plateau State to maintain absolute vigilance in their various communities.
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria React
In their reaction, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Plateau State Chapter, said it wholeheartedly condemned the killings of all innocent lives, destruction of properties and rustling of Fulani cows.
Plateau state chapter Chairman, Alh Nura Muhammad Abdullahi said that six (6) of their children now deceased, with 40 heads of sheep ,9 cows were machete to dead and over 232 cows have been rustled by the Irigwe militia.
He said: “We express with dismay the killings and beheading of six (6) innocent Fulani cattle rearers on Sunday October 15, 2017 by the Irigwe militia in Kuri village of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau state.
“The incident occurred on Sunday October 15, 2017 at about 3pm when the Fulani, while grazing their cattle at Kuri village in Bassa LGA were attacked, slaughtered, beheaded and their heads catered away by the Irigwe militia. In addition, a total of forty (40) sheep, nine (9) cows were machete and killed and a total of two hundred and thirty two (232) herds of cattle belonging to the families of the deceased persons were rustled.
“The unfortunate incident was immediately reported to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Bassa Local Government Area and Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Sector 6, who visited the scene and confirmed the dead and burial.
“We also observed the in-balanced in reporting the incident by the media, where they neglected and refused to interview or contact the Fulani community to capture the killings of the people
We are peace loving people, therefore, calling on Plateau state Government and security operatives to investigate, fetch out the killers and take necessary action that will stop future re-occurrence.
Enough of This Gruesome Massacre in Bassa LGA and Plateau State, Hon Kwande Appeals
A member representing Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Suleiman Kwande has expressed worry over the killing of 29 persons mostly children, women and the aged in a primary school, at Nkiedonwhro village, of Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Hon. Kwande in a statement condemned the killings and and called on Federal Government to set up a committee to investigate the gruesome killing with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
He described the attack on the innocent community as unfortunate, particularly now that peace had returned to the state after decades of violence.
“The new turn of killing of innocent people in Bassa Local Government Area in recent time is very unfortunate and disheartening. The native of the locality in the last few weeks have suffered unprovoked attacks that resulted to the killing of innocent people.
“I call on the Federal Government to set up a committee to investigate the fresh killing of innocent persons, including children, women, men and the aged in a primary school where they were taking refuse.
“It could be recalled that Ncha village was attack on the 7th September, 2017 and 24 persons were killed, mostly women and children, since then, villages in Miango Rigwe Chiefdom has not known peace.
“The community also wake up to the news of attacks each day leaving tears, sorrow, despair and apprehension in the villages. Hukke village was attack on the 9th September 2017 and 2 persons were killed including a soldier. Nkie Dongwro village was attacked on 8th October 2017 and 1 person was killed and another injured.
“Also, Kpachudu was attacked on the 10th October, and a young man, Solomon Elisha was killed allegedly by a mobile policeman, member of STF. Nzhweruvo and Tafigana villages were
attacked on 11th October and 3 persons were killed and houses were razed down. Rikwe Chongu village was attacked on the 12th October, 2017 and houses were razed down.
“Taegbe village was attacked on 14th October, 2017 and 6 people were killed and 5 others injured and houses burnt. The latest attack is on the 16th October, 2017 on Nkyie Doghwro village where 29 persons were killed, 3 injured at a school used as a camp and protected by security.”
“Enough is enough of the killing in Maingo, Bassa local government area and the entire plateau state. Security
Agencies must wake up to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives in the state. This evil must stop, enough of all the killings.”
Hon. Kwande also called on National Emergency Management Agency to provide relief materials to thousands of women and children who have been displaced in the affected communities as well as the Federal Ministry of health in collaboration with the Plateau State Ministry of health to move to the affected villages and provide treatment to the victims.
He security agencies must not relent in its efforts at identifying and prosecuting all those behind the heinous crime, which seeks to take the state back to the dark days of violent conflicts.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide-UK (NGO)
Rev Yunusa Nmadu, CEO of Christian Solidarity Network, Nigeria said: “By 2015, the Fulani herder militia had already been designated the world’s fourth most deadly terrorist group. Since then, it has continued to murder with impunity, as is evident from the remorselessly rising death toll in villages in north-central Nigeria. The current killing and forced displacement of the Irigwe people has continued for seven days, yet the authorities continue to insist the killers are criminals or mad men.
“If this were accurate, then criminality and madness would need to be redefined as the meticulously organised and executed massacres of indigenous populations in order to alter the demography of an area. We urge the federal government to call these terrorists what they really are and to deal with them accordingly and urgently.”
Bassa LGA is contiguous with southern Kaduna, where for over a year Fulani herdsmen militia have attacked communities, killing over 800 people and seizing land and property with relative impunity. The surge of attacks in Bassa LGA may indicate that the most intense violence has once again shifted to Plateau State.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide-UK (CSW-UK) said: “It is deeply disturbing that 30 vulnerable villagers who gathered in a classroom, having been assured of military protection, were brutally murdered by perpetrators who remain at large.
The fact that an army barracks is situated a mere ten minutes away from the site of the murders raises difficult questions as to why the military was not able to be of greater assistance to the unarmed civilians they had vowed to protect. In selected media briefing the said soldiers admitted all but refused to be capture on camera or video recording while addressing them proving the doctor message has been accomplished.
“We urge the federal government to stop killings us because; any investigation will be swept under the carpet of political bigwigs of the herders, Hausa oligarchy domination with the circumstances surrounding these killings, and to take action against any members of the military who are found to be guilty of either a dereliction of duty or complicity in the killings”
The attack on Nkyie Doghwro is part of a campaign of sustained assaults by herder militia on the Irigwe Chiefdom that has claimed over 50 lives in a little over a month.