By RAYMOND GUKAS:
•As Fulani herdsmen prowl for fresh attacks
As the 13 people killed in the recent attacks in Byei and Batten communities in Riyom local government area of Plateau state last Wednesday were laid to rest in a mass grave, several adjourning communities are becoming ghost towns as women in their numbers are fleeing to the headquarters of the local government, Riyom town for fear of fresh attacks .
The corpses of the deceased who were committed to mother earth at about 5pm amidst cries by thousands of locals who turned out in large numbers to bid them their last honour on earth, marked yet, another sad commentary in the state in less than ten days, following the burial of another 500 people killed in Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Rassat villages in Jos South and Barkin Ladi local government areas of the state.
Our correspondent who visited the area shortly after the burial observed that women and children were spotted wearing sad faces even as Christian songs of praises were sang, at least to comfort and relief the mourners as they believe, “He (God) is a comforter”. People, mostly women with their babies strapped on their backs were seen from near-by villages hurrying out in numbers in search of safer locations within the local government area.
Before the burial, a lengthy prayer session was observed, with the people, pondering why such an attack could be targeted at them, having lived in peace with their nieghbours for a long time.
However, some of the victims who narrated their agonies to our correspondent in the village of Byei, indicated that they will find it difficult to trust and accommodate any stranger in their midst, because this development has thought them a bitter lesson, beyond comprehension.
Mr. Yakubu Musa, a 36-year-old survivor, said: “I live here in Byei village. How I survive I don’t know, but I thanked my God for sparing my life. When I saw the attackers, I immediately looked for where to hide. It was here, (pointing to the dirge he was standing on), that I took refuge. I was wearing black cloths, so they didn’t see me, because it was dark. Then Isaw them heading to my uncle, Iliya Pam, 44 years old, and they killed him. When they killed him, they entered our house and they killed our grand mother, Ngyem Pam. She is 80 years old.”
According to him, the two soldiers who accompanied the Fulanis were saying, “come lets go” and the Fulanis were saying, “mundili”-meaning “come lets go” after they have finished shooting.
Also, Mrs. Martha Bitrus said though she was not there when the killings of her mother and five other relations took place, she will still forgive those behind the barbaric act. According to her, “I don’t know what really happened but I was only told of what happened about 6:00am by my brother in law, Pam. He said unless I go there, (Byei), and see things for myself, he can not tell me. When he told me, I immediately left for Byei. When I came, the first thing I saw was the body of my uncle’s wife, Garos. She was murdered along side other six members of her family.
“I did not move any further to see my mother who was pregnant that had been burnt to ashes with Justina, 3 years old, on her back. They were all roosted beyond recognition. My younger brother, Bitrus, 15, had his head almost severed from his body. The attackers used knives to cut him from the neck and the head was almost cut off completely”, she narrated.
These are tales from the horror that befell Byei and Batten communities in Riyom local government area last Wednesday, even as those who spoke to our reporter after the mass burial described as “barbaric” the dastardly act. The Chairman of the local government council, Hon. Simon Mwankwon Fwet told our reporter that the local government council was going to ensure that adequate security arrangement was put in place to check the excesses of those in the habit of breaching the peace.
He recalled how several peace meetings called by the council have always been boycotted by the representatives of the Fulanis. “At a point the Fulanis sent threat messages warning that any body who ventures to encroach to their area would be dealt with”.
Meanwhile, the Plateau state government yesterday announced the relaxation of the curfew imposed on the state after the January 17, 2010 killings in some parts of the state. The state information commissioner, Hon. Gregory Yenlong said the government decided to relax the curfew from 9pm – 6am following a review of the security situation in the state by the state Security Council presided over by governor Jang.
In addition, mobile policemen have taken over the entire communities, with the arrival of the AIG zone 4, Donald Iroham who said that “citizens should expect more police around them from now henceforth, that is part of the special assignment. “We shall adequately police the state,” he said.
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