By Taye Obateru, Sam Eyoboka & Tordue Salem:
JOS—OVER 200 people, mostly women and children, were, yesterday, killed in three villages near Shen in Du District of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, on reprisal attacks.
At least 45 children, including toddlers, were among those hacked to death, gunned down or roasted in their abodes by the marauders at about 2.30 a.m.
Most hit was Dogon Na Hauwa village where most of the killings occurred and more than 75 houses were razed, but nearby Ratsat and Jeji villages were not spared.
A victim, Musa Gyang who spoke to journalists where he is receiving treatment at Plateau Specialist Hospital said they were woken up by gun shots in the middle of the night and before they knew what was happening they saw their houses torched, and as they ran out they were attacked with gun shots or machetes.
Journalists broke down in tears as they saw corpses, some with heads severed from their bodies..
Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Gregory Yenlong who briefed journalists later said the corpses would be given a mass burial, adding that security has been beefed up to contain the situation .
Yenlong described the attack on the Berom villages as ethnic cleansing, saying some families were completely wiped out. He said the attackers were suspected to be Fulanis who came on foot from elsewhere to beat security but called for calm, stressing that government was intensifying efforts to track down the attackers.
The Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Gyang Buba who visited the area also lamented the gruesome murder of innocent people describing it as man’s inhumanity to man.
He said he received information of planned attacks on villages and informed the security agencies appropriately wondering why the attacks still happened.
Addressing the survivors, he said: “I am deeply sad. We can’t continue like this; we are not animals. We’ll go back and discuss with government even up to Abuja and make our case. Let’s have patience. There is no alternative to patience and don’t let us take laws into our hands. Do not do anything that would aggravate the situation.”
PFN condemns killings
Meantime, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has called on the Federal Government to urgently intervene and arrest the perennial wanton killing of innocent Nigerians in any part of the country or risk a total breakdown of law and order.
National president of PFN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who spoke after news that some religious fundamentalists were imported from neighbouring states to unleash mayhem on Plateau State noted that the nation belonged to all of us.
The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde in his reaction said: “it is a most unfortunate episode coming at the most un-Godly period of the year. How can people be so insensitive to the feelings of fellow human beings?”
Describing the incident as one religious riot too many, Pastor Oritsejafor said the incident coming early on Sunday morning while people were yet to wake up was too barbaric.
He urged Acting President Jonathan to prove to the 140 million Nigerians especially the Christian community that they have a stake in the nation just as their counterparts who have perfected the art of provoking them at will.
Oritsejafor said: “I have just returned from a trip abroad. While I was away I was inundated with reports of another catastrophe in the Jigawa State capital where several churches were burnt and just as I was trying to settle down and collate reports from the field I am hearing of another on a Sunday morning.”
In his reaction, the National Secretary of PFN, Pastor Wale Adefarasin said the cowardly killing of innocent Christians and the wanton destruction of their property and livelihood was further evidence that terrorist attacks similar to September 11 and the failed Christmas Day bombing in the United States now thrived in Nigeria.
Adefarasin said: “Nigerians demand that for the first time all the perpetrators of these shameless acts including those that have aided and abetted them must feel the full weight of the law.”
Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu said he saw the Sunday morning violence as a shame to a country that has been fighting seriously to gain the confidence of the international community.
He said: “Do you know that because of things like these, anywhere Nigerians travel to they are subjected to dehumanizing scrutiny. Any act of violence at this time is totally condemned and the government should make haste to fish out all identified perpetrators of such heinous crime against God so that we can move forward as a people united under one umbrella.”
Christians doubt army’s neutrality
The Christian Elders Consultative Forum, yesterday, accused the Nigerian Army of failing to respond to the alleged fresh attack on Plateau State Christians by the Hausa-Fulani Muslim militants in Dogo Nahawa community in Jos.
In a statement made available to Vanguard and signed by the National Coordinator of the group, Bishop Anderson Bok, and the Secretary General, Dr. Musa Pam, they said the fresh attack was a deliberate act of jihadists against Christians in the state.
The statement said: “The attack, yet another jihad and provocation of the Christians, started at about 1.30 a.m last night. We are in touch with the survivors though many of them are still in trauma.
“Dogo Nahawa is a Christian community. Eye-witnesses say the Hausa-Fulani Muslim militants came chanting ‘allahu akbar’ and broke into homes, cutting human beings including children and women with their knives and cutlasses.
“These militants, we understand, came into Plateau State from neighbouring Bauchi State. We are indeed worried as we have severally made it clear about the role of the Nigerian Army.
“Since the last religious crisis when the Federal Government mandated the Nigerian Army to take over the security of the state, we have never failed to show our fears and worries because of the role the military has played in previous crisis.
“Shortly after the militants besieged Dogo Nahawa this morning, we contacted the soldiers at exactly1.30am since they are in charge of security of the state. But we were shocked to find out that the soldiers did not react until about 3.30am after the Muslim attackers had finished their job and left.
“We want the soldiers to again explain reason for this deliberate delay which we consider part of the ploy. We want to state here that we no longer have any confidence in the Nigerian Army in the security of Plateau State because of their bias against Christians.”
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