Jul 10 2012
By Yusufu Aminu Idegu and Marie-Therese Nanlong, Jos
The scene of horror in which a senator and another lawmaker died on Sunday was reconstructed yesterday.
The member representing Riyom Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon Daniel Dem, relived how the lawmakers died. He was presenting the report of the incident on the floor of the Assembly during an emergency sitting in honour of the dead lawmakers – Senator Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Fulani.
He said: “We were all there together at the mass burial for 64 victims. There were three mass graves, two in Barkin Ladi and one in Riyom Local Government Area, which is my constituency. We decided to start with mine before going to those of Barkin Ladi. The original time of the mass burial had to be extended because the local rescue teams were still discovering more corpses from the bush. At the end of the search, we had 80 corpses of victims to bury in Barkin Ladi and we had 60 to bury in Maseh, Riyom.
“But at about 2:30 pm on the fateful Sunday, we commenced the burial first at Maseh, my constituency. While we were there, we were hearing gun shots from behind the hills, but we were not seeing them. So, we continued with what we were doing. But all of a sudden, the gunmen started jumping down from the mountains. The sight of the attackers caused people to begin to flee; everyone had to run as far as your legs could take you. The running caused serious stampede because the security agents that were among us were also running for their dear lives. We thought they would face the gunmen and repel them but they fled and you can imagine the stampede.
“It was after we ran for about two kilometres that my colleague, Hon Gyang Fulani, collapsed. Not very far from that place, we saw Senator Dantong on the ground; the same thing with Hon Mwadkwon. The rest of us were trying to revive them one after the other, but my distinguished senator could not make it, just as Hon Fulani. We got a vehicle and rushed them to the hospital but it was already late, the damage had been done. I could not belief what I saw with my eyes.
“The most pathetic situation is that corpses of over 100 people of our constituencies are lying outside without burial. This case is obviously beyond the security here. The Federal Government needs to send more troops to help because while those killed are yet to be buried, the gunmen are still around and the information reaching us is that they are going to raid more villages.”
It was a tearful session; many were crying.
The Special Task Force (STF) also spoke on the death of Senator Dantong and Assembly man Fulani.
STF commander, Major Gen. Ayoola, at a news conference on Sunday night, said: “Today (Sunday), at about 2.00pm during the burial of the deceased persons at Maseh village, there was sporadic shooting from the range of the hills surrounding the area, which led to a stampede, in the course of which three legislators slumped and were rushed to the hospital.
“Unfortunately, Senator Dantong (Plateau North Senatorial District) and Hon. Fulani of the Plateau State House of Assembly died while Hon. Simon Mwadkon of the House of Representatives survived and has been discharged.”
He said about 63 people were confirmed dead following the incident that took place on Saturday, when “unknown gunmen attacked Kakuruk and about eight neighbouring villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas.”
He said the search for the assailants was on and urged members of the public to volunteer information that could help in unraveling the killings.
He assured that the situation in the affected areas had been brought under control but advised residents where a partial curfew had been imposed to abide by it.
All was gloomy yesterday at the home of the late Dantong at Rayfield in Jos, Plateau State. Shocked family members and sympathisers poured in to condole with his wife, his aged parents and others, mourning the departure of their loved one.
Women were crying and men stood in groups, discussing the tragedy.
Mrs Dantong, apparently too shocked to talk, only nodded her head as the visitors tried to encourage her.
All who signed the condolence register had one good thing or the other to say about the late Senator. Most of the sympathisers were family members and people from his constituency whom he helped.
The late Dantong’s brother, Rwang, said the family was “leaving everything to God, “I know it is well.”
One of the sympathisers, a former Deputy Senate President, John Wash Pam, said the Northern Elders’ Forum (of which he is a member) had discussed the trouble in Berom, giving various suggestions to those in authority without any result.
Pam said over 70 bodies were picked at the weekend from Garshish and Bachit districts.
He described the attacks as genocide aimed at cleansing the Berom from their fatherland.
Another elder, Da Jonah Madugu, who was with the late Senator and the late House of Assembly member shortly before they died, described the incident as “very unfortunate”.
He urged the youths to remain calm.
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