• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Blood-letting on the Plateau again and again!

Blood-letting on the Plateau again and again!

“Strengthening internal security is an imperative. The inter¬related problems of security, stability and development must be solved through home-grown methods.”-

Mario Machungo ( in his poignant piece entitled: “Good Leadership Counts” presented at the 1999 Kampala Conference for Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa(CSSDCA))

But here in Nigeria:

“They kill/ at will,/ Like the jungle predators/Lured on by the tactless traitors/Who dance to the devil’s drumbeat/Without any retreat./They brew steamy lies/For the hungry flies./They seek for plundering power/To tear us asunder/Yet sing sweet songs/To thrill their tireless tongues/That promisedpeaceful paradise /Only to taunt our cowardice/But as the looming storm gathers /They are deaf to the clatters/Of the hunter’s warning whistle/Because Truth, to the wicked remains a riddle”.

(Poem by Ayo Oyoze Baje, titled: “The predators”).

More like the rule rather than the exception, scary newspaper headlines are literally screaming pure horror, virtually every day! The recent ones include: “Plateau: Over 70 killed in Kanam communities’ attack”. “94 killed by terrorists, assassins in Plateau, Kaduna, Osun within 24 hrs”.

“Over 100 killed in fresh attacks on Plateau communities”. While the first and the second headlines belong to the Vanguard newspapers of Monday and Tuesday of 11th and 12th April, 2022 respectively, the third was published by Premium Times of 11th April, 2022.

According to credible news reports, gunmen reportedly killed at least 142 persons in fresh attacks on some communities in Kanam and Wase Local Government Areas of Plateau State, North-Central Nigeria.

The attacks, which happened on Sunday,10th of April, 2022 were carried out in Kukawa, Gyambawu, Dungur, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji, and DadinKowa communities of the state.

According to IshakuTakwa, the media officer of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), a military task force maintaining peace in Plateau State and environs, confirmed the attacks to journalists in Jos.

The latest attacks come less than a month after 10 persons were killed in Te’egbe village of Bassa Local government.

Many people were also injured and at least 30 houses were burnt in the attack, a statement by the police said. But for how long would the killings last?

Indeed, my continued outrage at the recurring blood-letting on the Plateau since 2001 is predicated on the apparent impotence on the part of both the federal and state governments, to rein in the monster of the orgy of violence through the security forces. For instance, the piece of heart-rending news that made the headlines on Sunday, March 7, 2010 was that: “500 Berom natives in Dogon Nahawa were massacred by blood-thirsty herdsmen”.

Concerned about the largely preventable crises, I had used my Drumbeats opinion column with essays such as: “Taming the beast on the Plateau”(March 24,2010) and “Bloodbath on the Plateau again!”(Dec,29,2010) both in Daily Independent newspapers.

In August 29, 2011, twenty innocent Nigerians were gruesomely murdered during the violence sparked at Angwan Rukuba Road, Jos. Muslims had to celebrate their Ed el Fitri indoors as no one dared to visit the amusement park and other places of tourist attraction. Yet, the worst-case scenario was to follow, as reflected in the listed news headlines below.

Consider these:”Five more killed in Jos.”(Daily Independent, August 31,2011). Next came, “Family of eight wiped out in Jos.”(Daily Sun, Sept 5,2011). Soon after was: “Another family of eight wiped out in Jos.”(PM News Sept 9,2011).

According to media reports, some Fulani herdsmen went on the rampage in Heipang near Jos on September 4,2011. By the time they were through the family of Chollom Gyang, including his wife Hannatu, six children and a four-month-old baby were dispatched to their early graves.

And in a subsequent sweeping strike by unidentified gunmen, another family of eight, including a visitor were hacked to hideous death at Foron village in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area at about 1.00 am. That was on Friday, September 9, 2011. It was the fourth of such beastly attacks in Plateau state within one week!

These grisly and despicable killings, symbolize a nation whose leaders have failed and grossly so to guarantee the much-needed security of lives and property in line with Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) along with the basic principles of government.

For the series of preventable tragedies on the Plateau, the point is now crystal clear- that only the people of the Plateau could effectively exorcise the demons of self-destruction from their once peaceful state.

According to the Chairman of Barkin Ladi L.G.A. Emmanuel Dachollom: “We have made appeals to the Federal Government that the people in Mahangar area have lots of sophisticated weapons but the government has refused to do anything about it.”

Even Captain Charles Ekeocha, the STF spokesman had also conceded to the fact that “everywhere in the state is infected with weapons, with sporadic shots heard day and night”. That was back in 2011. Are things any better as of today? The answer is crystal clear!

Read also: Buhari decries Plateau killings, says perpetrators shouldn’t be spared

As expected, Governor Simon Lalong of the embattled Plateau state sympathized with the communities affected by the recent attacks and promised them justice, as “those behind the attacks will not be allowed to go without punishment”.

He also stated that the State Security Council has adopted far-reaching measures to enhance the capacity of the security agencies to respond to all situations.

Furthermore, he directed the State Emergency Management Agency and the Peace Building Agency to immediately visit the areas, assess the situation and provide relief as well as trauma management.

But how does this sound to the patriot’s ears? Sound of a broken record. Mere rhetoric! And this again gets several critical questions bogging the mind of those amongst Nigerians who still have respect for the pricelessness of human life.

For how long would the governors of the crisis-riddled states and Mister President keep reeling out condolence messages, promising justice for the psychologically bruised and brutalized families of the victims yet all ending as vacuous promises?

How many of the heartless killers have been apprehended and brought to speedy justice? Who told the hapless citizens of Benue state to learn to live in peace with their tormentors and traducers soon after some 73 victims were sent to the early graves?

Why are the so-called repentant terrorists and bandits, who are alleged to be foreigners offered amnesty on a platter of gold, as if their lives are more precious than that of the armless Nigerians they have dispatched to the Great Beyond?

One cannot but wonder why the STF has not been sufficiently empowered both numerically and with the requisite weapons to take proactive measures to reduce the level of the murders. According to Dachollom “Now our people have been pushed to the wall. We do not know for how long we can wait for the government to protect us.”

On his part, the Gbomgbom Jos, Chief Gyang Buba has come out to remind the public, that going by historical facts as in the gazette the Beroms are the natives of the Plateau and not the Fulanis, Hausas, Yorubas and Ibos.

His people’s act of benevolence in giving the settlers a space in their lovely land has been repaid with the ingratitude of the most cruel kind. The villagers have therefore, asked the Federal Government to withdraw the STF.

With all the unabated killings the recent call by the Northern Elders Forum that President MuhammaduBuhari should throw in the towel should not be taken as a wake-up call to him to do the needful.

Declare a state of emergency on insecurity. Allow for a holistic restructuring of the country and let the compelling issue of state policing be adopted by the legislators now.

A stitch in time will save nine!