The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have condemned the recent killings in Mangu LGA of Plateau and some parts of Benue State.
This is as gunmen killed no fewer than eight persons including an eight-month-old baby in the Farin Lamba community of Vwang District of Jos South LGA of Plateau State on Sunday night.
The incident came a day after an attack was launched on the Sabon Gari community of Mangu LGA of the state where many lives were reportedly lost and houses burnt.
Daily Trust reports that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) on Sunday reported that 15 of its members were killed in the invasion of their communities.
The group also said 78 houses belonging to its members were burnt while over 2,000 cattle were still missing after the invasion.
The spokesman of the police, DSP Alabo Alfred, was yet to respond to a call and a message from our correspondent on the latest attack at the time of filing this report.
But, the National Publicity Secretary of Berom Youth Moulders, Rwang Tengwong, said the attackers arrived in the community at about 9:45pm when many of the people were asleep.
He said the attackers, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, came in a Vectra vehicle and started shooting at the victims who were heading home after the day’s activities.
“The eight-month-old baby and her father were returning from the hospital when they met their untimely death. Before this unprovoked attack, several communities in Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Jos South and Mangu LGAs have witnessed the deliberate destruction of farmlands and provocative grazing of over 300 hectares of land.
“Also, there have been daily ambushes and killing of innocent persons on motorcycles after Ta-hoss village in Riyom LGA, along the Abuja highway which has taken the lives of four persons and one injured,” he added.
Tengwong appealed for the deployment of more security personnel in Barkin Ladi and Jos South LGAs, saying it has helped to drastically reduce attacks in the past three weeks.
But the state chairman of MACBAN, Nuru Abdullahi, denied the allegation, adding that the group was not aware of any attack in the area.
Abdullahi said, “We are not aware of what they are accusing us of. Anytime an attack is launched, the Fulani communities are often blamed. So, this is not new to us. As far as MACBAN is concerned, the accusation is misleading.”
ACF: ‘End violence, killings nationwide’
The ACF has however called on government and law enforcement agencies to work towards restoring peace in the affected region.
Murtala Aliyu, the Secretary General of ACF, expressed deep regret over the unfortunate killings.
He stressed that there should be political will at all levels of government to put an end to violence and killings not only in Plateau State but across the entire country.
Aliyu said, “The situation is highly unfortunate. The Mangu axis had been peaceful, even during previous periods of crisis in Plateau State. The current crisis is truly unfortunate. I believe that the law enforcement agencies and the government in Plateau should make every effort to restore peace and order in the area.”
He emphasized the importance of rebuilding confidence among the residents and urged local leaders to work towards bringing back peace to the region.
Aliyu also highlighted the economic significance of Plateau State in the northern part of the country, stating that the recent crisis has greatly impacted its economic viability.
He pointed out the lack of political will to address the killings in the state and urged government at all levels to demonstrate sincerity in their efforts to promote peace across the country, not just in Plateau State.
He called on the governor to fulfill his responsibilities and resolve the ongoing crisis.
“After assessing the situation, the victims should be compensated and properly cared for. Additionally, those responsible for the violence should be punished. Without appropriate sanctions, such incidents will continue.
“However, with proper consequences, we will be able to address the root causes of the problem. Therefore, the government must ensure that anyone caught, regardless of their affiliation, is appropriately punished,” Aliyu stated.
JNI calls for the dismantling of roadblocks
Also, the state chairman of the JNI and the Emir of Wase, Alhaji Muhammadu Sambo Haruna II, in a statement, condemned the attacks.
“The JNI wishes to outrightly condemn the intractable security situation in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State and express its fear that unless the situation is brought under control urgently, it may continue to escalate,” he said.
The emir called on security agencies to do everything possible to ensure that road blockages by non-state actors in the Mangu areas are stopped because several innocent travellers had fallen victims and lost their lives at the road blockades.
“Security agents should professionally take full control of traffic and vehicular movements along the roads at all times to give travellers and commuters some sense of security,” he said.
The JNI further called on the Plateau State government to be more proactive in addressing the issues as well as the deployment of more efficient security measures to contain the altercations and restore sanity to the state for socio-economic growth and development.
“JNI calls on all peace-loving citizens of the state to remain calm and to go about their lawful affairs, and to continue to pray fervently for the restoration of sustainable peace and progress in the state,” the statement added.
CAN urges government to halt the situation
The state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau State Chapter, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, said the government over the years knows what the problem is and how to solve it.
He said there was no point in such a crisis lingering as it is something that can be easily tackled.
According to him, innocent persons are the ones always bearing the brunt of the violence in terms of attacks and reprisals.
He said they gathered that some mercenaries in the crisis were being paid N50,000 by the orchestrators.
Lubo called on the government to use its might in halting the violence as it could spiral out of control.
Warring communities give conditions
However, the Mwaghavul Development Association (MDA) has called for the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of the act as a condition for peace to reign in the area.
The Director of Public Affairs of the MDA, Mr Laurence Kyarshik, also called for the cooperation of the Fulani communities to end the crisis.
“The Fulani we are living with must be sincere in their actions. If those attacking us are not the Fulani we live together with, why won’t they cooperate with us and share information so as to end the menace? That will go a long way in preventing the killings.
“For there to be harmony also, the lost trust and confidence must be rebuilt because the trust we have in the past has been destroyed. We were living together for a very long time. Unless we are able to build the trust and confidence that we used to have, the problem will continue,” the association stated.
MACBAN faults state government
But the leadership of MACBAN in the state has accused the state government of insincerity in the handling of the killings.
Abdullahi said, “The inability of the state government and security agencies to call a spade a spade is what is causing the problem at this moment. To us as a group, for there to be harmony, there must be justice for both the state government and security agencies. So long as that is not done, there will never be peace.’
We are working to address the situation – Plateau govt
The Director of Press and Public Affairs to the governor, Gyang Bere, said the government would do everything possible to bring the situation under control.
He said they would engage all the parties so that a holistic solution can be arrived at.
He called on all parties to apply restraint and allow peace to reign as the government is seeking ways to tackle the issue.
Soldiers recover rifles, ammunition
In another development, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) maintaining peace in Plateau says it recovered five locally made rifles during an operation in the troubled communities of Mangu.
Captain Oya James, Media and Information officer of the command, who disclosed this in a statement, said some ammunition was equally recovered during the operation.
He said the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division Nigerian Army (NA), Major General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who doubles as commander of OPSH, had visited the trouble area for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and immediate solution to the lingering crisis.
Death toll rises to 30 in Benue
In Benue State, the death toll of the latest armed militia attacks on Akpuuna and Diom communities in Ukum LGA rose to 30 following the discovery of more corpses as well as the death of some seriously injured victims.
The two rural communities had on Saturday come under severe attack by a gang of armed men who rode on many motorbikes at about 10:30 am on Saturday to shatter the peaceful ambience of Akpuuna and Diom environs.
Our correspondent had reported 24 corpses recovered on the same day alongside several others that were injured and were evacuated to a hospital while the market and many houses were set on fire by the attackers.
The Chairman of Ukum LGA, Kartyo Tyoumbur, who is on suspension by the state government, confirmed to journalists in Makurdi on the phone that the number of deaths in Saturday’s attack rose to 30.
The sad incident appeared to be the second-highest number of killings witnessed by the new administration of Governor Hyacinth Alia, who has since condemned the attack and the loss of innocent lives in the affected communities.
The first simultaneous killings which happened on June 4 in several communities of Kastina-Ala LGA by alleged local militias and armed herders, claimed the lives of 40 people.
Alia, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Tersoo Kula, said, “It is disappointing and quite disheartening to receive the news that innocent and law-abiding citizens have been attacked and killed in cold blood, for no cause.”
In the meantime, Alia has appealed for calm and advised the people of the area to assist security agencies with useful information that would help quell insecurity in their domain.
Meanwhile, a former Chairman of CAN in Benue State, Archbishop Yimam Orkwar, has implored the new government of Alia to find a way to end the crisis which, he said, had defied different solutions in the past.
He noted that before the coming of Alia, people expressed the hope that if the new government came in, the militias would drop their guns and come out because they were tired of staying in the bush.