By Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
THEY must be thanking their God for their miraculous escape from the mob that was set to descend on them and lynch them. They certainly will remain eternally grateful to God that today they can still breathe freely and perform their roles as normal human beings. They are overjoyed that their lives were not cut short and their mortal bodies hurriedly committed to mother earth that fateful Thursday afternoon in Namu community located in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The day had started well for the natives and visitors to the community but mayhem was let loose later. The event that brought the lawmaker and journalists in close shave with death started like a drama just as the senator representing Plateau South in the National Assembly, Professor Nora Dadu’ut was in Namu, Qua’an Pan local government area of Plateau State to commission a project she had spearheaded for the benefit of her constituents.
Interestingly, the Senator had taken the novel project to the area, basking in the euphoria that information and communication technology scheme and a library would trigger a positive impact on the people since there has never been any of its kind in the rural community.
And, in the absence of such a vital project for the community, students intending to write the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board Examination and others traverse bad roads to access cafes in Lafia in Nasarawa State or travel long distances to Jos, the Plateau State capital to access such services.
The senator was happy and excited that she had solved a major academic and social problem for the people with the location of that aspect of her constituency project in that community and was eager to get it commissioned that fateful day when the unexpected happened, something that shook her to the marrows. She had gone there with the hope of being appreciated and receiving standing ovation for her love for the community. Instead she, her husband and other members of her family were almost lynched by irate youths protesting the arrest of some suspected gunrunners in the community by security agents.
The politician, her husband, close family members, aides, prominent traditional rulers in the Southern zone, officials of the Universal Basic Education, UBEC, and State government officials, as well as some journalists who went to the Namu village, for the event were almost killed on the spot by the rampaging irate youths, who were armed to the teeth.
Even before her entourage arrived the area for the inauguration of the project, the mob had taken over the stretch of the road leading to Lafia and Jos; they mounted multiple roadblocks and took some of the invitees and roadusers hostage for over three hours. So, as the lawmakers and others arrived, they were ushered into the waiting hands of the protesters, who swarmed over them and threatened to deal with them unless their members allegedly arrested by security agents were freed.
And, then, mayhem erupted. Confusion reigned supreme as chaos broke out from every corner of the community and people ran in different directions. In the raging confusion, some people were seriously wounded while many vehicles were destroyed and other set ablaze by the mob.
The venue of the inaugurated was deserted as invitees ran for dear lives.
While some drivers escaped with their vehicles, the bus belonging to the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the pilot vehicle in the entourage of the Senator were vandalised and razed. The presence of security agents could not deter members of the mob who were bent on causing bodily harm to the people. But the Senator and her husband were rescued and whisked away from the scene by security personnel.
Although the journalists all escaped unhurt, the Union’s Hummer bus donated during the Jonah Jang administration and other personal effects of the victims worth millions of Naira, were lost to the mob. The State Chairman of the NUJ, Paul Jatau, strongly condemned the attack on its members, describing the assault as unjustified.
In the same vein, the state governor, Simon Lalong, expressed outrage at the development and directed security agencies to “conduct a thorough investigation and ensure the culprits are fished out and brought to justice. In response, the senator sent words of encouragement to the journalist through her Senior Legislative Aide, Mrs. Rufina Gurumnyen, who visited the State Council of the NUJ and commiserated with the union over the incident.
The Pan Development Association, the umbrella body of the people in Qua’an Pan has also apologized to the NUJ for the action of the hoodlums who also looted shops same day.