Blood in the Plateau State.
Plateau State where over 50 innocent women, children and the aged were literally roasted alive?
They had on learning of the attack by assailants on neighbouring villages in Barkin Local Government Area run to the COCIN Church in the village to take refuge. But unknown to them, their greatest fear, the fear of possible death, came to pass as the men of violence came, surrounded the church and set it ablaze, standing guard to ensure that no one escaped.
the attackers suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had raided about 12 villages in Gashish District of Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area leaving over 30 people dead and several houses burnt. They subsequently moved into Riyom LG where they found the women and children holed up in the church and decided to unleash further terror.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that on hearing about the attack in Barkin-Ladi LG, the men in Riyom mobilized to confront the attackers and actually put up a spirited fight to ward them off but for the sheer number and superior fire power of the assailants. When the attackers eventually gave up and disappeared, the fighting men did not know they had sneaked into Maseh village to unleash further terror. It took some time before they knew what happened and by the time they got to the church, what they found was another agonizing sight – the charred remains of wives, children and the aged.
A member of the vigilante group who simply identified himself as Istifanus told Saturday Vanguard that it was a horrifying sight as they found the roasted bodies of the people. “We thought we had successfully driven them back, but little did we know that they had gone to wreak havoc at Maseh.We got there and found that they had burnt all those who ran to the church for refuge”, he said in an emotion laden voice.
He added that they had encouraged the women and the aged to go with the children to the church for refuge while they went out to confront the attackers but, according to him, the unexpected happened.
Saturday Vanguard further learnt that it was the mass burial of those killed in the church that Senator Gyang Dantong and Majority Leader of Plateau House of Assembly, Mr. Gyang Fulani went to attend when the gun men again stormed the place shooting sporadically and disrupting the burial ceremony. As a result, decomposing bodies are said to litter various villages in the two local government areas as people have either fled or are afraid to go and give their deceased loved ones a befitting burial for fear of meeting the same fate.
Condemnations have meanwhile followed the killing of the innocent women and children. A human rights activist, Gad Peter decried the massacre of women and children in those villages, especially the killing of those that took cover in the church, describing it as failure on the part of the Federal Government and the Special Task Force maintaining security in the state.
Similarly, the Plateau State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) through its chairman, Haroun Audu condemned in strong terms, the killing of the women and children in the church as well as the death of serving legislators. In a statement, the body described it as “callous, wicked and deadly” and against common rules of decency to, without any provocative whatsoever, lay siege on people in a church and upon a procession and gathering of mourning community members gathered to bury victims of yet another of their vicious and systematic spate of wanton and provocative slaughter of innocent persons.
the Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria Plateau State Chapter also reacted through its President, Mr. Johnson Bistu. According to him, “we are saddened by these acts of evil that is eating our people and country. One wonders if our President and security agents are interested in the wellbeing of the ordinary Nigeria citizen. Look at how our people are being killed in the church like animals.
If one cannot be safe in the church, then where else is safe? If the ruling class do not bring an end to this evil people, then the unity of Nigeria is under threat.” He warned that the Youth CAN may be forced to react if the attacks are not checked. On her part, a women leader in the state Mrs. Monica Gwom added another dimension noting that the fear of going to farm because of the series of attacks was resulting in hardship for villagers in the affected areas. “There is so much hunger in the villages because people do not go to farms any longer due to fear. Those who go to the market end up being killed while those who planted crops had them destroyed by cattle rearers”, she noted.
Gwom, in tears, described the killing of women and children in the church as barbaric, wondering how innocent women and children that have run for their lives would be set ablaze and burned to ashes in the church. She appealed to all good hearted people and patriotic Nigerians to condemn these acts and contribute to finding a solution to the problem in Plateau State.
the recent killings have resulted in calls for a review of the state of emergency declared in four local government areas of the state on the ground that it had not achieved anything. An NGO, Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity through its Executive Chairman, Joseph Sangosanya said time had come to review the declaration.
In his words, “we have no iota of doubt that the Federal Government declared State of Emergency in Jos North, Jos South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State has no effect and has woefully failed because the rate of violence in the LGAs have grown astronomically since the State of Emergency”.
Similarly, the National Association of Nigerian Students in a statement signed by the Secretary General, Comrade Garos Dalyop urged the Federal Government to lift the state of emergency in view of its apparent failure to achieve anything. It also called for a thorough investigation into the recent killings with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book. It said governments at every level must not relent in the fight against terrorists and their sponsors.
Like before, the condemnations will be strident and promises not in short supply from the ‘big men”. What remains to be seen is the answer to the poser of many citizens as to when the killing of innocent people will end. When will people be able to sleep, confident that security men posted to ensure their security would be up and doing or when can they begin to go to their farms without the fear of being shot at and killed. When?
Blood in the Plateau State.
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