January 8, 2024

Plateau: CAN leads protest against continued killings

Plateau: CAN leads protest against continued killings

Picture: The protesters at the Government House, Jos.

… as Emir of Wase leads leaders of Islamic sects to visit Mutfwang

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN on Monday led Christians irrespective of denomination to protest the continued killings in Plateau State and other parts of the country, calling on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process of officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for the mindless killings.

The protesters dressed in black and led by the State CAN Chairman, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, ECWA President, Rev. Stephen Panya, COCIN President, Rev. Amos Mohzo, Bishop of Methodist Church, Jos; Rev. Nkechi Nwosu; President, Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam among other prominent Christian leaders in the State walked from the PRTVC Roundabout at Rayfield to the new Government House at Little Rayfield, Jos to register their displeasure.

Speaking during the protest tagged “Plateau Peace Walk”, the ECWA President, Rev. Panya speaking on behalf of others said, “The entire Christian community in Plateau State once again condemns in the strongest terms the unprovoked, wicked, satanic and genocidal killings of innocent and harmless Christians on Christmas Eve in over 20 communities in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

“The timing of these killings has shown that the attackers had clear intentions and objectives, which were to target Christian communities, take them unawares and inflict maximum casualty on them. Based on authenticated statistics released so far,
this is one of the deadliest and most devastating attacks on the Plateau. These attacks were not only horrific and reprehensible but incomprehensible.

“For example, Veronica Malan, a nursing mother was shot through her stomach and the bullet pierced her abdomen and passed through the stomach and back of her 9-month-old baby boy, Godwin. To ensure that they were both dead, they were slaughtered along with 23 others, mostly women in their hideout in Chirang, Mangur District. A three-year-old baby girl was shot point blank and still lies critically ill at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). At the Mbong community, the charred bodies of a woman and her children and relatives set ablaze by the terrorists lie in the ruins of their burnt bedroom.

“The total number of people massacred in cold blood so far on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are now about 212 and they are still counting. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are estimated now to be about 15,000. 10 Churches were burnt down: Baptist Church, Dares; CAC, Mbong; COCIN Maiyanga; COCIN, Ndung; COCIN, Tahore; CAC, Lunghai; COCIN, Ngha-buk and COCIN Church; Hurum. All the 10 Pastoriums were burnt down. 4 Pastors: COCIN, CAC, Baptist and Assemblies of God were killed in the attacks as a Pastor’s wife and his five daughters. A breakdown so far shows that 50 Women, 20 Children, and 7 physically challenged persons were burnt in their homes as they were unable to run…”

He pointed out the demands of the Christians to include the “Timely intervention in the provision of emergency relief in terms of food, water, toiletries, sleeping materials and other such necessities; an end to the sustained attacks and killings on the Plateau and in Nigeria, immediate justice for the innocent people of Bokkos, Mangu, Riyom, Bassa, Barkin Ladi and other affected communities.”

The President added, “We unanimously call on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as a matter of urgency, to initiate the process of officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for these mindless killings. They should be officially designated as terrorists. This will give the military the power to fully engage them as provided in the Terrorism Act of 2022. It is on record that in 2015, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) named the armed Fulani
militias as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world.

“Nigeria must urgently act and treat them as such while also engaging other West African countries, through ECOWAS, to do the same thing. A regional approach, consensus and action have become extremely imperative to deal with the menace of the Fulani militias. We call on President Bola Tinubu through the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Barr. Caleb Muftwang, to provide adequate security for the 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bokkos who are today located in various temporary Camps and houses of relatives.

“All communities destroyed should be rebuilt and the displaced people relocated and resettled back in their ancestral homelands as soon as possible. We call for an end to the intentional dispossession of land and the current land grabbing through militarization and the activities of these armed militias and bandits which have gone on for too long now in Plateau State.

“Records show that several indigenous villages have been taken over, the people displaced and some of these villages are currently being occupied by these armed militias. This sad reality and social tragedy must change. The displaced people should be resettled back to their ancestral lands and given adequate security.

“We demand an end to the intentional destruction of farm produce and cattle rustling which have become huge security issues. We urge His Excellency Governor Muftwang to look into this and find ways to tackle these issues once and for all. We also call for the construction of food barns which were burnt down with farm produce in the communities attacked. By implication, even if the survivors return to their communities, there would be no food left. Unless there is a timely intervention, the people will face hunger and starvation.”

The Catholic Arch-Bishop of Jos, Matthew Audu stated, “Peace without justice and fairness is not peace. Is it just to allow bandits with sophisticated arms to walk freely? Is it just for people to be displaced and their homes taken over for whatever reason? Has the government accepted defeat in the fight against the terrorists?”

Meanwhile, the Emir of Wase, Muhammadu Sambo II led the diverse Islamic sects in the State to visit the State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang to assure him that the Muslims in the State are behind him at all times, encouraging him to take action and deal with any criminal causing problems in the State.

He told the Governor, “The Muslim Ummah are behind you, we have a few bad eggs among us. We must take control and hold people accountable. The Muslims are your people, use them and their connection, please forgive, interact, share and collectively protect Plateau.”

The Governor in his response to the protesters commended the people for remaining peaceful saying, “In the face of provocation, you have not lost your humanity. I will forward your demands to President Tinubu who has shown that he wants to bring to an end this cycle of violence. We have seen the security do the needful and we have also seen some lapses but we will move from the Book of Lamentation to the Book of Acts…”

To the Muslims, he stated, “God is a God of fairness, we will ensure fairness to all. With your cooperation, we will return Plateau to what it used to do. Enemies of Plateau will not survive it, we will ensure we arrest, and prosecute so that others will learn.”