As peace gradually returns to Daffo communities in the Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau, the state police command has confirmed the arrest of a herdsman with an AK-47 rifle.
The command’s spokesman, Mr. Terna Tyopev, who confirmed the arrest on Sunday, gave the rifle’s serial number as HC2614.
He said the herdsman, Muhammadu Bimini, was arrested by riot policemen on March 8, at Daffo.
Tyopev said, “The suspect has been transferred from Bokkos to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department in Jos and is being interrogated.”
The police spokesman also told the News Agency of Nigeria that 16 people had been confirmed killed in the multiple attacks on several villages that took place between Wednesday, March 7, and Friday, March 9.
He stated that the command had deployed more personnel in the troubled areas to restore peace.
The PUNCH had reported that the attacks took place at a time President Muhammad Buhari was on a one-day working visit to the state.
One of our correspondents had reported that apart from the killings, over 50 houses were destroyed.
However, leaders of the affected communities said 25 people were killed in the attacks.
The community leaders, who spoke to journalists on Sunday in Jos, said many persons were still missing.
Spokespersons for the communities, Rev. Mamot Adams and Mr. Macham Makut, said the remains of some of those killed were recovered and given two mass burials – one on Friday and another on Saturday.
The community leaders blamed the attacks on “our Fulani neighbours,” and listed villages attacked to include Nghakudung, Shilim, Morok, Mandung, Faram, Filla and Hotom.
According to them, also attacked were Dai, Kungul, Hurum, Dahua, Malul, Warrem, Josho and Ganda villages.
They said more than 5,000 people had been displaced, adding that some of them were in camps run by churches.
They called on security agencies to halt the attacks and restore permanent peace to the communities.
“We want the government to take urgent steps to end the attacks because our youths are agitated,” Adams said.
It was also gathered on Sunday that some other victims in the attacks on Miango village would be given mass burial on Tuesday.
The spokesperson for the Miango Youth Development Association, Lawrence Zongo, gave the name of the victims as Emmanuel Joseph and Christopher Joseph (twins, 16 years); their brother, Peace Joseph (6), Henry Audu (25), and Illa Peter (52).
Zongo said, “We just concluded a meeting with zonal executives of the MYDA to plan for the mass burial of our beloved ones killed by Fulani herdsmen. The burial has been fixed for Tuesday, March 13, 2018.”
Zongo faulted alleged plan by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to disarm vigilance groups and hunters.
“It surprised me that the IG wants to disarm vigilance groups and hunters. Let him start with Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen who are killing people in the country. Our people don’t have arms; if we have, we would have protected ourselves,” he said.
I won’t rest until every life is secured –Lalong
The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has directed security agents to arrest and prosecute “the criminals that perpetrated the killing of persons’’ in the Bassa and Bokkos local government areas of the state.
A statement on Sunday by the Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yakubu Dati, quoted Lalong as saying that he would not rest until every life was secured.
“Plateau State will not condone the activities of hoodlums, who take advantage of conflicts among citizens to perpetrate killings and destruction of property.
“Governor Lalong believes that our differences are better resolved by sitting together rather than taking arms against one another,” the statement read in part.
But the Peoples Democratic Party berated Lalong and Plateau elders for not using the opportunity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to make “valid demands.”
The PDP said instead of using the opportunity of the visit to tell the President the truth about the killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen, Plateau elders praised Buhari for selfish reasons.
The PDP, in a statement issued on Sunday by the state Publicity Secretary, John Akans, also faulted the naming of the Plateau gateway, Mararaba Jama’an Road, after Buhari.
It said, “The negative atmosphere was not helped by elders and statesmen who floundered at a crucial time to speak truthfully about the state. These elders were more concerned about a future of relevance for themselves rather than the security of their people.
“On the whole, Mr President missed the opportunity to worm his way into the hearts of the people of Plateau as a caring and decisive leader. And Governor Lalong also missed a glorious opportunity to project himself as a leader with a heart for his people and not merely as a stand-alone leader whose only major concern is looking good away from home.
“Nigeria’s President came to Plateau, saw and left the state in trauma. He got the hospitality of the people, but he did not acknowledge their bloody encounters with determined and unstoppable killers.
“The President and Commander-In-Chief even got a road named after him; but in an unbelievable fashion, he gave not a single word of sympathy to a grieving state.’’
“We are disappointed at this nonchalance by both Mr. President and Governor Lalong. Out of the depths of pain and sorrow, our hearts cry out for peace and justice on the Plateau. This is also one visit that will be remembered by Plateau people because their governor chose to elevate lies and half truths to statecraft.
“Another of Governor Lalong’s missteps was the naming of the Plateau gateway after Mr. President. To what benefit?”
CAN summons emergency meeting
The Plateau Christian Association of Nigeria (Youth Wing) has summoned an emergency meeting over the killings in Plateau State by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Although the venue of the meeting has been kept secret, The PUNCH gathered that it had been scheduled for Monday (today) in one of the communities attacked by suspected herdsmen.
A text message convening the meeting was seen by The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday.
The SMS reads, “Dearly beloved, in view of some pockets of attacks in the Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos and Bassa local government areas of Plateau State, you are hereby invited to a crucial meeting to appraise the situations with the state YOWICAN Exco this Monday.”
Benue, Taraba killings: Army to arrest culpable govt officials
The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that it would identify and arrest everyone, including government officials, involved in the fresh killings and destruction of property in Benue, Taraba and Adamawa states.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, who said this in a statement, added that the commanders of troops in the affected states had been warned to take decisive actions or face court martial.
No fewer than 24 persons, mostly women and children, were killed last Monday in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga, in the Ojpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
Suspected herdsmen were reported to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm, killing the children who were said to be returning from schools.
Also in Taraba State, the police confirmed the killing of five persons in a fresh crisis on the Mambilla Plateau in the Sardauna Local Government Area about a week ago. The crisis was said to be between the Fulani and Mambilla ethnic groups.
But the Nigerian Army said on Sunday that the troops would work with other security agencies “to identify and arrest all those involved regardless of their positions in the society.”