The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed concern over the inability of the military to prevent the Christmas Eve killings in Plateau State.
At least 113 bodies including those of children have been recovered from the gruesome attack on villagers in 23 communities in Plateau State, according government officials.
The NEF, on Tuesday, described the killings as the latest in a long series of coordinated attacks, rampant killings, and mass displacements that have plagued the northern region.
In a statement signed by Ango Abdullahi, its convener, the forum said: “NEF strongly condemns this devastating act and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families affected by this heinous crime. It is deeply distressing to witness the continuous deterioration of security in the conflict-affected areas of the North, which has led to countless lives being lost and a pervasive sense of fear and instability amongst the communities.
“Moreover, NEF expresses concern over the inability of the military to prevent the Christmas Eve killings, despite claiming to have promptly responded to 36 distress calls from different locations in Plateau State in the 48 hours leading up to Christmas.”
According to Monday Kassah, transition committee chairman of Bokkos Local Government Area (LGA), as of Monday, no fewer than 113 bodies had been recovered from the attacks.
He said: “The attacks were well coordinated, no fewer than 20 different communities were attacked by the bandits. As I am talking to you, we have recovered 113 dead bodies from those communities. We have recovered more than three hundred injured; some were taken to hospitals in Jos, some to hospitals in Barkin Ladi and others have been taken to hospitals in Bokkos.
“The security personnel have been doing their best, the difficult terrain reaching those communities has made the security not reaching there on time to prevent those communities.”
The assailants reportedly killed 113 persons in 20 villages in Bokkos LGA and 32 in three villages in Barkin Ladi LGA.
It was gathered that the villages were attacked from Saturday night to the early hours of Monday.
The attacks were also said to have left hundreds of people injured and property destroyed.
Areas affected included Ruku, Hurum, Darwat, Mai Yanga Sabo and NTV villages in the Gashish and Ropp districts.
According to a statement by Gyang Bere, his director of press and public affairs, the governor of Plateau directed security agencies to promptly apprehend the attackers and ensure they face the full force of the law.
Caleb Mutfwang, who expressed deep concern over the incident, urged communities across the state to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to security forces for immediate action.
He questioned “the impunity of the attackers who inflicted harm on communities, destroyed property and evaded justice.”
The governor assured that proactive measures would be taken to curb attacks on innocent citizens.
He sympathised with affected families, and urged them to find solace in God as the government diligently works to end the “prolonged violence.”
The Berom Youth Moulders-Association (BYM), under the leadership of Solomon Dalyop Mwantiri Esq, condemned the attack, describing it as an act of terrorism.
The association, in a statement, by its National Publicity Secretary, Rwang Tengwong, said the attack has already led to the complete displacement of thousands of persons.
Tengwong said the attack did not only demonstrate a blatant disregard for human life, but also sought to undermine the peace and unity that are at the core of their values.
He called on the international community to add its voice to the crisis on the Plateau, which has been going on for years.
He said: “On a day meant to celebrate love, compassion, and togetherness, the perpetrators of this dastardly act have brought untold agony, suffering and grief to the affected communities.
“We call on the government and relevant authorities not only to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice, but to swiftly come up with palliative packages as well as compensation for the victims.
“The BYM also urges the government to take immediate and decisive action to prevent further attacks and ensure the safety and security of all citizens regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
“We want to urge all Plateau sons and daughters to put aside their differences and come together to resist elements perpetrating the dastardly acts.”