People from all walks of life and across political and age divide are united in grief as victims and survivors of the Saturday June 23, 2018, herdsmen attack in rural communities of Plateau State continue to groan and bleed in pains at various hospitals in Jos, the state capital.
Most of the victims lost family members to the bloody attack which left over 221 persons dead, 52 persons injured, 11,000 persons displaced, 50 houses burnt, four motor vehicles burnt and valuable items destroyed. At the moment, scores of the victims are battling between life and death at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Vom Christian Hospital and Bingham University Teaching Hospital, where children and women scream in pains and agony.
In most of the wards visited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, individuals were butchered and roasted like animals hanging by the threat of life and even kids were not spared. The people are indeed under excruciating pains and sorrow.
Narrating her tale of woes, 43-year-old Hannatu Dalyop, who is nursing gunshots injuries at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, lost her husband, mother-in-law and three children in the attack. She is left between life and death:
“It was at about 3:30pm, we were sitting in the house when we had a loud scream that Fulani are coming, everybody should go out. I was struggling to see how I could get my children together to run for escape when I heard gunshot for the first time.
“The second gunshot came when I was about to go out, suddenly the Fulani were on my head. They shot me and I felt down as if I was dead. They all left and I pretended on the ground until when the whole place was calm.”
Luka Benjamin, a native of Gashish District will never forget that bloody day in a hurry. His entire household of 13 members was wiped out in the attack. Right now, Luka is helpless and hopeless as he continues to bleed in pains.
Governor Simon Lalong abandoned the National Convention of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abuja, drove to the flash point. He was followed days later by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He addressed the leadership of the Berom, made up of the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da. Jacob Gyang Buba, leadership of the Fulani community, people from Bassa, Bokkos and Mangu local government areas.
Osinbanjo said: “We must not allow religious crisis in this country to become uncontrollable. We should not allow this to continue, we should have it in the back of our mind that no country in the world has ever survived from a religious crisis. I want to advise all the leaders to show restrain in what we say.
“This is very unexpected after so many efforts made to secure peace in Plateau. We had a meeting with the President and he said it is important I come here to have a full meeting with the governor, all the security agencies and the communities just to have an understanding with regard to what Federal Government can do to help the situation.
“It is very disturbing and sad indeed, I must express our sincere condolences on behalf of the people and government of Nigeria to those who lost their lives in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom and Jos South local government areas in the past few days. It is so sad that we still have a situation where this thing can take place so many people are killed in this manner.
“It is a very condemnable act and whatever it takes, we must ensure that we do not only arrest those who have committed this heinousness crime but they are seen to be publicly punish for this action. After what has happen, we have seen a number of killings and maiming of innocent lives on the streets.”
Osinbajo directed the National Emergency
He also announced that Federal Government would release N10 billion to rehabilitate and reconstruct houses of farmers displaced as a result of the violence.
Lalong said when he came on board in 2015 his administration set up a formidable committee between the Berom and the Fulani to resolve decades of violence that claimed hundreds of lives in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom local government areas.
He informed that two weeks before the killing, he ordered the submission of the recommendations of the committee to the State House of Assembly, to transform the recommendations into law to enable other parts of the state with similar skirmishes to adopt it in resolving their problems.
Lalong told President Muhammadu Buhari: “This current attack is very disturbing and alarming because it has left behind in its ugly trail the painful loss of over 200 people, besides the humanitarian challenge confronting thousands of displaced persons whose houses and crops have been burnt and completely destroyed.
“The gory pictures of the killing of innocent citizens, women and children continuous to torment our hearts and its sends the serious message that something drastic needs to be done comprehensively, to nip once and for all the ugly menace of attacks that has come to be associated with suspected militia herdsmen.
“These reoccurring attacks have regrettably opened up space for all manners of criminality by criminal elements and conflict merchants, who engage daily in cattle rustling, theft, banditry, gun running and other forms of crimes amongst our citizens.”
He insisted that before the rehabilitation of displaced farmers to their ancestral land, Federal Government needs to beef up security in the rural communities before the return of farmers. He raised the alarm over certain communities who have stock piled arms and ammunition and called on Inspector General of Police to commence house-to-house search for the illegal arms:
“While we are looking forward to the security gains that will emanate from these established security bases, we have again been confronted with renewed attacks, which left us with increased man-made humanitarian crises as a result of the condemnable and reprehensible conducts of the haters of our peace and humanity.
“Mr. President, your deputy has conveyed some measures of hope to us, with the pronouncement that a N10bn special intervention fund has been set aside as palliative for farmers in flash points of recurring attacks and violent inter-ethnic conflicts that have been ravaged on account of same.
“We are concerned that sophisticated weapons used in these attacks, from the evidences on ground and the narrations of victims are not those conventional to our environment for self defense but reflective of a terrorist invasion. It, therefore, demands a justified response like that undertaken to address the Boko Haram Insurgency.
“Mr. President, further to the measures already put in place to halt these attacks, I feel obliged to request that you direct security agencies to immediately commence arms mop up in these areas of conflicts, we subscribe to a house to house and community to community search for illegal weapons that have been stock piled in Plateau State.”
At the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Lalong ordered the management of the hospital to treat and feed all the patients that government would upset the medical bills. He also ordered adequate security in the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) Camps at the Hall of Geo-Science Angul-D, COCIN Church Ban, RCC heipang, RC Fan, LCC Rakwuru among other areas.
He said his administration will not play politics with human lives and he will not rest until peace and security is restore in every parts of the state.