At a time the outrage trailing the Christmas eve massacre of no fewer than 195 persons in Plateau State is yet to abate, with none of the perpetrators apprehended, the Middle-Belt Forum, MBF, said yesterday that the insurgents have written Pushit community in Mangu LGA on a fresh attack.
MBF Deputy National President, Stanley Kavwam, who disclosed this in an interview on Arise TV, said the terrorists were planning to launch the attack on the Pushit community on December 29 (today), disclosing that anonymous persons dropped letters of previous attacks on Mangu LGA.
Kavwam spoke as the United Nations and Northern Caucus of the House of Representatives and Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda, yesterday demanded a thorough investigation and probe of the attacks.
This is even as the national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Bishop Francis Oke, urged President Bola Tinubu to deploy the full force of federal might to end the spate of insecurity, especially in Plateau State, saying peace in the state could no longer be postponed.
Also, the convener of the Initiative for a Better and Brighter Nigeria, IBBN, Prophet Isa El-Buba, called on the President to halt his holidays in Lagos and return to address insecurity by sending a comprehensive bill for state policing to the National Assembly, even as Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim sought security reforms.
Last week, about 25 Plateau communities suffered coordinated attacks by gunmen who killed no fewer than 195, injured more than 3,000, displaced 10,000 and razed 1,290 houses.
Military knows culprits, their hideouts —Kavwam
Kavwam claimed the military was aware of the identity of the attackers and their hideouts, adding that some communities were still being invaded.
“While I was driving down from Jos to this place, I received a call. A letter was sent to my own village by the terrorists that the attackers were going to invade on December 29,” he said.
Letter on previous attacks on Mangu
Continuing, he said: “In all the attacks that were orchestrated, there was a letter to that effect that was dropped by an anonymous person, intimating the residents of Mangu LGA that there would be attacks.”
Asked if they informed the security forces of the letters on impending attacks, he said over 30 distress calls were made to security personnel before the recent attacks in Plateau.
He said most of the communities attacked in Plateau were Christian settlements, adding that the operation usually lasted for about 24 hours without security intervention.
Kavwam said security agencies knew that an attack was coming before the Christmas eve massacre.
His words: “They received about 37 distress calls, that is operation Safe Haven or the Joint Task Force. About 37 distress calls! Yet nothing was done.
“All the casualties that we are talking about are in a community inhabited by Christians and the security forces know the attackers, they even know their hideouts for two decades.
“They know where they orchestrate the attacks because that autonomous community, called Manga, is at the foot of Bokkos hills, bordering Wamba in Nasarawa State to the south.
“It’s this autonomous community these attacks are orchestrated from, just the same way we have in the Mandara hills in Borno State.
“For instance, the military relocated an entire community of over 11,000 people, leaving the entire Dangoa road free for the terrorists to operate.
“Section 14B of the 1999 Constitution as amended stipulates that the welfare and security of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. These attacks could last for as long as 12 to 24 hours and there is no security presence whatsoever.
“Pushit community is in Mangu LGA of Plateau State. A letter was sent today (yesterday) to Pushit that they are going to attack on the 29th.”
He added that despite President Tinubu’s directive to service chiefs to intensify security in the affected communities, “nothing has changed and the attacks are still going on and there is no response from the security authorities.”
Security Agencies Arresting Innocent Victims – Group
Meanwhile, a Plateau socio-cultural group, Bokkos Local Government Like-minds Association condemned what it described as “the despicable attacks that the herdsmen group continues to commit in various parts of Bokkos Local Government Area and some parts of Mangu and Barkin Ladi local government areas, which resulted in loss of lives, injury, and property burnt and looted and many others displaced from their ancestral homes on December 23, 2023.”
A statement signed by the group’s leaders, Dr. Silas Nguwap and Mr. Musa Ngyak, read: “The association is horrified by the recent massacre perpetrated on these communities; Kambar Peli, Ndun, Ngyong, Tahore, Chirang, Sanyang, Tuje, Sundul, Mai Yanga, Mutfet, Ndares, Bodel, Yalya Nono, Butura Campany, Gawarza-Mangor etc in Bokkos local government area. It reiterates its full solidarity with the people and Government of Bokkos local government area and expresses its deep sympathy to the families of the victims…
“While we commend the efforts of the security personnel, we call on them to redouble their efforts, especially on information sharing, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. The association frowns on the arrest of victims defending their communities.
‘’We call on the government to release victims arrested and detained while defending themselves. Mobilize resources to provide humanitarian aid, shelter, and assistance to those displaced by these tragic events.”
We’re working to scale up intelligence gathering — FG
Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it is working to scale up intelligence gathering and response to crisis in any part of the country.
Minister of Information and National Orientation,, Mohammed Idris, condoled with families of the victims of the attacks. “At the federal level, all hands are on deck across the security and intelligence agencies, to scale up intelligence-gathering and crisis-response efforts,” Idris said.
“The federal government of Nigeria strongly condemns the recent killings in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
“We would like to reiterate the commitment of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration to securing every inch of Nigerian territory, and ensuring that all forms of criminality by terrorists, bandits and militants are tackled boldly and decisively.
We’ll implement President’s directive – Police Affairs Minister
However, Minister of Police Affairs, Senator Ibrahim Geidam, yesterday assured that President Tinubu’s directive will be implemented to the letter.
Geidam, who condoled with the families, government and people of Plateau State over the killings, said the barbaric action was perpetrated by enemies of the country, noting that the President had directed that no stone should be left unturned in apprehending both the collaborators and prime suspects involved in this crime against humanity
In a statement, Geidam said: “The loss of innocent lives is a tragedy that touches us all, and we stand united with the people of Plateau State during this difficult time.
“The actions of these enemies of the country have caused immense pain and sorrow, and we extend our sympathies to the affected families and communities.
“The leadership of the police ecosystem is resolute in its commitment to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.
“In line with the directives of Mr. President, we will leave no stone unturned in apprehending both the collaborators and prime suspects involved in this crime against humanity.
“Our collective resolve is to ensure that those responsible face the full force of the law.
“It is our firm belief that by standing together, cooperating with security agencies, and providing vital information, we can assist in arresting these callous criminals who are currently on the run.
“We understand the gravity of the security challenges facing Plateau State and the entire country, and we assure you of our continued collaboration with other stakeholders to address these issues.
‘Despite this tragic incident, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ongoing reforms within the police, aimed at enhancing professionalism and the delivery of top-notch service to the Nigerian people.”
UN, Northern Reps Caucus demand thorough investigation
Meanwhile, UN Rights Chief, Volker Turk, said yesterday he was “deeply alarmed” by the string of attacks on villages in central Nigeria which left nearly 200 dead, according to local authorities.
“I am deeply alarmed by the series of attacks by gunmen on multiple rural communities in Plateau State.
“I call on the Nigerian authorities to investigate this incident promptly, thoroughly and independently, consistent with international human rights law, and to hold those responsible to account in fair trials.
“The cycle of impunity fuelling recurrent violence must be urgently broken. The government should also take meaningful steps to address the underlying root causes and to ensure non-recurrence of this devastating violence,’’ Turk said in a statement.
Also, the Northern Caucus of the House of Representatives called for a thorough investigation into the murder of citizens in many villages across Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State on Christmas eve.
The leader of the caucus, Ado Dogwua, said the Plateau killing should not and had never been a representation of what the northern part of the country was known for.
In a statement, he said: “We are known for being accommodating and respectful of individual differences along religious, cultural, ethnic and socio-economic spectra and as such these incidents is devoid of reason, indefensible and a reproach on our humanity.
“We believe that only a thorough fact-finding mission with a commitment to punishing all those that played direct or indirect roles in this massacre as well as other pockets of killings that have been taking place in the state in the last few weeks as reported in the media will lead to a lasting peace in the Plateau region, which has now become renowned for attacks and reprisal attacks, especially among farming communities and the pastoralists.
“We call on governments at both state and federal levels and all security agencies to ensure justice is served in this matter by bringing all the perpetrators to book and finding lasting solutions to these recurring criminality in Plateau and other parts of Northern Nigeria.”
Probe killings, Chinda tells NASS
In like manner, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, urged the National Assembly to commence investigations into the killings in Plateau State.
The member representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Rivers State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement titled “Murder on the Plateau: Time to end the killings,” flayed security agencies for always failing to act on intelligence reports which often precede deadly attacks.
“We urge the National Assembly Security Committees to draw strength from Sections 4, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, to commence a proper and detailed investigation into the persistent murders and proffer legislative solutions to end same.”
According to him, the Christmas eve attacks in Plateau State have raised national and global concerns about the security of persons in Nigeria, particularly the North-Central zone and the murders that have gone on for too long on the Plateau.
“These murders, which have become the cyclical outcomes of inter-communal violence in Plateau State, show how grievances between communities can be turned into organised violence by unidentified groups and persons who use violent methods to address perceived differences.
“When Jos was turned into an infernal theatre and a killing field in which 1,000 people lost their lives in 2001, many thought that the violent expressions of differences had reached the zenith but unfortunately, more attacks followed in Jos, Wase, Langtang North, Langtang South, Shendam, Mikang, Qua’an Pan, Barkin Ladi, and Riyom, resulting in many deaths and the destruction of properties.”
He noted that the reasons adduced by observers for the sad state of affairs ranged from internecine fights between indigenes and settlers for natural resources to inter-ethnic rivalry ensuing among ethnic groups “no longer appear plausible given the increasing rates of attacks, the sophistication of invasions of communities, and the anonymity of the perpetrators of the attacks. There is something about this anonymity which makes the murders of the Plateau sinister.”
He continued: “What is more sinister is that warnings of impending attacks are unheeded by security agencies, coupled with the apparent unwillingness of the political leadership to arrest perpetrators and nip the violence in Plateau State in the bud.
‘’If the accounts of witnesses are to be believed, what stands clear is the act of collusion and conspiracy in the bloodletting. The murders on the Plateau have gone on for too long and must be stopped now!”
Tinubu must end Plateau killing —PFN President
Similarly, PFN National President, Bishop Francis Oke, who was accompanied by other PFN officials and members, said in Jos that peace on the Plateau could no longer be postponed.
The PFN President spoke during a visit to the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang, to commiserate with him and the people of the state over the series of attacks which left over 195 persons dead and hundreds of homes destroyed.
He encouraged the people with the words of God from Psalm 29:11 and 2nd Thessalonians 3:16 and prayed that peace returned to the state.
He said: “These killings are so painful, coming at the festive season, the evil people struck to shed blood to stain our joy but joy won’t depart from Plateau State. The Lord will give strength to his people, the state needs strength at this time…
‘’We don’t want the peace to be postponed any longer. We call on the Federal Government to do something about security, especially in Plateau State.
“President Tinubu has the mandate of the people to act, he has the wherewithal to arise and bring the force of the federal might to end insecurity in Nigeria…”
Governor Caleb Mutfwang, who received the PFN delegation, commended the Christian community for identifying with the state.
He noted: “The redemption of Nigeria depends on the Church, if the Church gets it right, there is hope for Nigeria. The PFN should be the vanguard for this. Tribalism is the biggest threat to our unity, the Church can break that barrier and unite the people.
‘’A divided army can’t win the battle. What’s happening in Plateau is not a clash but pure terrorism, we must understand its seriousness and tackle it.”
On his part, Prophet El-Buba at a press conference in Jos, said: “The audacious regularity and ease with which attackers operate unchallenged on the Plateau and elsewhere in today’s Nigeria beats me hollow. Numerous policy recommendations on how to tackle this hydra-headed monster of killings are replete in the public space.
‘’One of these recommendations is a constitutional alteration to provide for state policing to complement the overstretched and insufficient central security operatives who need some over 24 hours to reinforce to an area where citizens are being butchered owing to their meagre number.
“It is on this note that I wish to call on President Tinubu to halt his holidays and return to service and among other things, quickly send a comprehensive bill for state policing to the National Assembly to forestall the audacious regular killing and maiming of poor struggling Nigerians.”
Olawepo- Hashim seeks rapid security reforms
Meanwhile, Former Presidential Candidate and a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has condemned the Christmas Eve massacre in some local government areas of Plateau State and sought lasting solutions.
Olawepo-Hashim, in a statement, lamented the recurring orgy of armed conflict and called for rapid security reform measures that would permanently arrest the unending waves of bloodletting in many parts of the country.
“The cowardly killing of peaceful villagers in Barkin-Ladi and Bokos, some in their sleep on Christmas day shows there is no limit to the barbarism of some people who live among us. Same Christmas day, a medical doctor helping to provide community health services was kidnapped and killed in the Oloru area in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State.
“How many lives need to be lost before rapid security reform measures that would permanently arrest the unending orgy of bloodletting at the local levels come into effect?” he asked.
Currently, no fewer than 195 people were killed in the Plateau attacks, 10,000 displaced and over 1290 houses were razed.
As most Nigerians looked forward to the joy and happiness of Christmas Day, murderers on Sunday cowardly crept into different communities in two local government areas of Plateau State and embarked in orgy of killings for several hours.
Episodes of mass killing and destruction occurred in Jos in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2010. The violence has also affected other parts of the state, especially in rural areas outside of Jos when hundreds of people were killed in villages, in their fields, or while tending cattle.
The situation has defied several measures by past administrations to halt the trend. Many have blamed the crisis on many factors including disagreement over indigeneship, Jos ownership, politics, ignorance, religion, unemployment and sheer wickedness.
To break the cycle of killings, Olawepo-Hashim urged governments, at all levels, to address the root causes of the violence, which he said is being watered by an unhealthy tendency of inter-communal conflicts, disputes over land and resources and deep-seated ethnic tensions.
He said that perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be identified, apprehended, and prosecuted swiftly and transparently, regardless of their affiliations or backgrounds. This according to him, will send a strong message that justice is sacrosanct and impunity will not be tolerated.