Following the massacre of 78 persons in some Plateau communities on Sunday, the residents have fled the affected areas to homes of relations in safer communities in Garga area of Dengi, headquarters of Kanam Local Government Area.
Some survivors of the attack, which also led to the burning down of scores of houses, also said, yesterday, that their communities were attacked through the land donated for ranching in the areas.
Though mourning their loved ones, who had since been given mass burial, the survivors said they had to leave for fear of further attacks.
One of the survivors, Ahmadu Salim, from Kukawa said: “The attackers came on several motorcycles, riding dangerously, firing shots at fleeing natives and setting buildings ablaze.
“As they swooped on the villagers, some of them with long swords were running into homes, slashing people and beheading some as we tried to escape.”
Another survivor, who pleaded anonymity, said: “The gunmen attacked us after invading our community through land donated for the ranching programme of the Federal Government.
“You know the controversy that trailed this ranching programme when it was conceived by the government. We fought against it, knowing that a time like this will come, but government had its way.”
Yet another survivor said he lost many members of his family, adding that he managed to escape being killed by the grace of God.
“The bandits shot and killed running into the bushes, slaughtered those they caught up with in their homes. The number of deaths being reported is an understatement because many people were chased into the bush and killed there.
‘’I suspect many dead bodies would still be in the bushes, yet to be recovered,’’ said the survivor who pleaded not to be identified for security reasons.
Although the state government has ordered security forces to go after the killers and directed the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, and the Peace Building Agency to immediately visit the areas, assess the situation and provide relief as well as trauma management to the survivors, nothing has happened.
But Director-General of the Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang, said: “SEMA has such statutory responsibility. As at yesterday, they were preparing to go together with the National Emergency Management Agency.
‘’The work of the peace building agency depends basically on some relative level of security as well, so SEMA is supposed to carry out that assessment before we can go in to start a dialogue.
“However, we are not sure whether what is happening in Kanam is a question of criminality or an issue of conflict but an assessment will give us an insight into how we can design our intervention.
“I think the governor’s instruction, probably is in the context of collecting information for humanitarian intervention first. It is not necessarily about calling conflicting parties because we don’t know if it is a conflict and who the parties are.
“What we know is that there was an attack that is criminal, we are also joining other people, including the government, to call on the security agencies to fish out those responsible for this heinous act and ensure they face justice, with a mechanism put in place to forestall a recurrence.”
While help is being awaited, it was gathered that suspected criminally-minded people are taking advantage of the situation to swindle people, and this has forced chairman of the council, Mr. Dayyabu Garga, to issue a disclaimer.
Taru Dugub, the SSA on Media and Student Affairs to the chairman, yesterday, cautioned the public to disregard any form of humanitarian service request for the victims, as some person or group of persons were parading themselves, seeking donations in the name of Kanam local government.
Dugub said the chairman was also assessing the level of damage to property, houses, and the actual number of people killed and displaced.
He added: “We are collaborating with State Emergency Management Agency to resettle the people at a convenient camp, while mourning our slain brothers and sisters.
“In times like this, corporate bodies and individuals may wish to donate to the victims of the Kanam massacre, they may do that through the social services department of the local government council, HRH Ra’an Jhar of Jhar Chiefdom, or through the Kanam Emirate council.”
Senators Dimka, Dadu’ut beg FG to help survivors with relief materials
Meanwhile, the senator representing Plateau Central, Hezekiah Dimka, his Plateau South counterpart, Nora Dadu’ut, and a gubernatorial aspirant, Caleb Mutfwang, have frowned at the killings.
Dimka, who visited the council’s headquarters in Dengi to commiserate with the chairman and people of the area, described the massive killing and wanton destruction of property as disheartening and reiterated his call on the federal government to come to the rescue of the state.
He said: “I wish to most heartily, on behalf of the people of Plateau Central, condemn these dastardly acts of taking the lives of innocent people and destruction of property and to console the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the course of these senseless attacks.
Senator Dadu’ut on her part, urged the Federal Government to expeditiously apprehend the perpetrators of the act and bring them to book.
Similarly, the gubernatorial aspirant, Mutfwang called on citizens to rally against the ravaging insecurity, kidnapping and other criminal activities that had become injurious to the economic growth of the state.
Don’t spare or forgive perpetrators, Buhari warns security agencies
Reacting to the killings, yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari directed security agencies not to spare or forgive those behind the attack.
The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, ordered law enforcement agencies to work strenuously with the government of the state to bring the situation under control and take steps to bring the culprits to justice quickly.
The statement read: “As full details emerge on the scale of the brutal terrorist attacks in Kanam and Wase communities in Plateau State, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the killings as heinous, saying the perpetrators should not be allowed to escape justice.
“They should not be spared or forgiven. He ordered law enforcement agencies to work strenuously with the government of the state, to bring the situation under control and take steps to bring the culprits to justice quickly.
“President Buhari expressed condolences over the terrorist incident, saying as a matter of priority, peace must return at all costs to the state and the entire country.