The many frequent attacks on the innocent residents of Plateau State by terrorists usually leave many dead and property destroyed with the victims helpless and homeless.
Investigation showed that between January 7 and April 13, 2022, about 169 residents were killed in different communities by terrorists.
Besides, houses were torched and the number of internally displaced persons had increased in many communities.
The situation worsened last Sunday as over five communities were attacked by the terrorists in the Kanam Local Government Area of the state. Over 100 villagers lost their lives to the attacks.
Residents alleged that the state’s security model had collapsed. They also said that several killings happened across the state’s 17 Local Government Areas but were not reported, calling on the federal and state governments to find a way to reduce the attacks daily threatening their existence.
The latest of attacks were carried out by a large army of terrorists who rode on motorcycles and invaded seven villages, killing and destroying everything on sight
Some of the affected communities included Kukawa, Gyambawu, Dungur, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji and Dadin Kowa among others
A road transport worker from Gyambawu, identified only as Alhaji Nuhu, whose brother and son were shot in their hands and legs said on Thursday that over 6000 displaced persons mostly women and children were currently taking refuge at an open market and primary school in Dengi, the LG headquarters.
He stated that apart from those taking refuge at the market and primary school in Dengi, there were others who were rushed to the hospital as a result of the injuries they sustained during the attacks.
Nuhu said, “What we have at hand in Dengi is a disaster. We don’t know what offence we committed to deserve this kind of treatment.’’
The Chairman of Kanam LGA, Dayyabu Garga, said that so far, 106 victims of the attacks had been buried, adding that many people were severely injured and receiving treatment in different hospitals across the state.
He claimed that the terrorists were camping at Kamabari Forest in neighbouring Taraba State.
It was observed that before the latest attacks on Kanam villages, the year started with three separate attacks by terrorists in the Bassa LGA on January 7 where three farmers were killed and others injured.
One of the farmers, Timeh Evi, was ambushed and killed on his irrigation farm in Nzhwerenvi village. It was learnt that till date Evi’s corpse had yet to be recovered.
On January 10, terrorists ambushed two people on their way to a farm at Ncha village.
While one was killed, the other sustained a gunshot injury in her mouth and was taken to a hospital
Also in another ambush at Ancha village on the same day, terrorists attacked two persons and killed another villager, 28-year-old Stephen Monday. The attackers also injured another person named Ejoma Stephen
The incidents signalled an ugly one for affected families of Irigwe natives who mainly depend on farming as their source of livelihood.
The spokesman for the Miango Youths Development Association, Bitrus Nuhu, said that the attacks and killings created tension and fear among people in the area
Since January till date, several other villages and farmlands were attacked and destroyed by the terrorists. In Riyom LGA, suspected bandits killed three youths on January 10.
The youth were said to be going to Tyaana village in the council area when the terrorists attacked them, killing three persons on the spot while several others sustained injuries.
On January 11, the attackers returned to Ncha village in the Bassa LGA and killed 17 persons.
Nuhu said that the terrorists who carried out the killings also burnt many houses belonging to the natives and injured several persons.
In Dong community, Jos North LGA, some terrorists on January 21, stormed a mining site where some people were working in the community and attacked them, killing four persons and injuring two others.
There was a protest the next day as angry residents brandishing green leaves and trees branches cut from nearby bush blocked the major roads passing through the community.
Three persons were killed on January 24 in Du community, Kwa district in the Bassa LGA.
The victims were on a motor bike when the terrorists attacked them, killing three of them on the spot, while one other person sustained injuries.
Also on February 24, two youths working at a mining site located at Yelwa- Zangam community in Jos North LGA were shot dead by terrorists while others escaped.
On March 28, around 7:57pm, five persons which included three women were killed at Mararaban Tipper along Nzhwerenvi village and a man was killed at Kpara village, all in Bassa LGA.
In Bassa community on April 3, 10 persons were confirmed dead while 19 others sustained injuries after gunmen attacked attendees at a cultural festival in the council area. The incessant attacks and killings have been generating reactions from residents.
Some residents who spoke with PUNCH during separate interviews attributed the attacks to several things, including intent to forcefully take over the ancestral lands of the natives, alleged poor response from the security agents and inefficiency of government officials.
A resident of Jos, Solomon Mwantiri, believed that implementation of anti-land grabbing law would curtail loss of lives and property to persistent attacks by the terrorists.
Mwantiri said, “In our view, the justification for the flagrant abuse, utter disregard and violation of the fundamental human rights of the natives amid a weak and oscillating public opinion has to be sought within the parameters of a wider agenda in Nigeria.
“Our understanding of the onslaughts on innocent civilians and unsuspecting Berom natives is that our lands are earmarked for forceful occupation, subjugation and subsequent annexation. The strategy is that of terrorism while the tactics is occupation and guerrilla warfare with impunity.
“The non-implementation of anti-land grabbing law in Plateau State is presently aiding the territorial expansionist appetite of the invaders from within and beyond the state.’’
Mwantiri called on the government to wake up to its responsibility and protect the people. He also solicited support for the internally displaced persons.
Yusuf Ali from Barkin Ladi decried the plight of the internally displaced persons in the state, saying, “We want Nigerians and the world to know that internally displaced natives in Plateau State have not only been neglected to their fate, but are today being sabotaged, so they forfeit rebuilding their homesteads thereby surrendering to occupiers of their lands. To our knowledge, many people have been killed, maimed and injured while making self-effort at rebuilding their homes and saving their livelihoods. It’s not surprising that IDPs are suffering without assistance and support while militias are drawing from the strength and sponsorship of terrorist networks, funding and unfettered supply of arms and ammunition.’’
Also, a villager, Stephen John, said more pro-activeness was needed on the part of the security agents to address the security challenge facing the state.
John stated, “I want to call on the police and other sister security agents to be diligent in the performance of their duties. Why is it that they always arrive at the scene of attacks after the perpetrators might have gone? It’s annoying.’’
Another resident, Grace Attah, condemned the way she said some suspects were treated.
“Most of the time, we don’t hear anything about suspects arrested in connection with the attacks and killings. Sometimes, one hears that they have been released. How will such a situation serve as a deterrent to others?,” she said.
She further called for strict enforcement of the law and prosecution of those culpable in the attacks and killings in the state, saying “that is the only way to stop further occurrence.’’
Lamenting the effects of the attacks on the people, another resident in Kanke LGA, Garba Shehu, said he could no longer go to farm like he used to do due to the incessant attacks on the people.
Shehu said, “I have a farm in Bokkos where I cultivate maize. But that place has been lying fallow for some time now. The reason is because one is not sure of returning home alive for fear of attacks. Honestly, the security situation is affecting us as a family and we don’t know when the situation will normalise to enable us to return to our normal work.
“My position is that anytime the people are attacked and killed, the governor through his Director of Press and Public Affairs will issue a statement condemning the act and indicate that he has ordered security agents to go after the terrorists.’’
He stated that after the latest attack on Kanam villages, the governor did the same thing by pledging that his administration would never allow Plateau State to be a haven for terrorists to establish camps and use same to wreak havoc on communities and innocent citizens in the state and elsewhere.
Shehu stated, “But for how long should the people wait to see his words translate into action?.”
The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu, said that Governor Simon Lalong-led administration was not resting on its laurels in addressing the security problem in the state.
He recalled that last year, the state government spent a total of N1.2bn on 50 patrol vehicles and 200 motorcycles which it procured for the police in the state.
He said the state had partnered with security agencies in the state by fuelling their operations, ensuring feeding allowances for personnel on special assignments and operations, maintaining and servicing of vehicles to assist them perform their duties.
Atu added, “Nobody likes what is happening. But as a government, we will continue to do our best for the safety of our people.’’
On whether the state government would call for state police to arrest the worsening insecurity in the state, Atu noted that community policing was a better platform for collaboration.
Responding to allegations that policemen and other sister security agents always delayed before arriving at the scene of attacks, the spokesman for the state police command, Ubah Ogaba, said the command’s operatives were performing well despite attendant challenges.
Ogaba said, “It is not as if we always arrive at the scene of attacks late because it depends on when the information on any attack got to us. As soon as we get information on any attack, we usually mobilise to the place and that is why we always encourage people to inform us on time about such incidents so that we can get to the place and apprehend the perpetrators.