From Debo Oladimeji and Isa Abdulsalami:
* Victims Recount Ordeal
* Gowon Seeks Dialogue
SOME wounds get heal, but the scars remain. Others don’t heal, for they are never allowed to heal before another is inflected. For the people of Plateau State, especially the Berom, the latter typifies their present state of siege from attackers suspected to be Hausa-Fulani herdsmen, just as more deaths continue to be recorded almost on daily basis.
Yesterday, a student of the Jos campus of the state Polytechnic was shot dead by security personnel, while six others were injured.
Another person was feared killed at the Katako Market in Jos during a brief scuffle between Moslems and Christians, which was over before men of the Joint Task Force arrived.
For the people of Kwanga, Gimti, Galadima and Gimti Gwom Dwung and Byei villages, the sound of gunshots, even fireworks, has become a nightmare, as it reminds them of the incidents of last Wednesday, when they were attacked in the night and many of them hacked to death or maimed.
So has living in communities overlooking the hills, which has become a safe haven for the attackers, who appear unrestrained.
For most of them, Gimti General Hospital and the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, Jos has become home. Worse still, they don’t know when or where they would go from there, or are they certain that their wounds would be allowed to heal. Life has been brutish for these people in their fatherland.
Twenty-year-old Mercy John, a Junior Secondary (JS) student of Berom Community Secondary School, was fast asleep with her mother, Regina, father, John, and siblings when their house was attacked with cudgels, machetes, cutlasses, bows and arrow. Unknown to Mercy, her mother was stabbed to death.
Still in pains from the wound on her sliced nose, she recounted: “They entered into our room and started cutting, maiming people with knives. My brother, Iliya, and myself were butchered with machetes. They cut off part of my nose and my left hand.”
In addition, she had a compound fracture in her left hand and deep cut on her leg, which had to be sutured. The nurses said it would take some time before she could be discharged from the hospital.
Joshua Ghungwom, 43, was with his wife, Lami, 37, when the attackers besieged Gimti village, an incident that has now landed him in the hospital.
“I heard sporadic gunshots around 2am on the ill fated day. I was in the house with my eight children- Samson, 19, Jessica, 16, Deborah, 13, Rhoda, 10, Rahila, 7, Victoria, 4, and two-year-old twins, Martha and Elizabeth, when I heard the deafening gunshots and ran out with my children to hide,” he recounted.
But, the attackers plucked him out of his hiding place with the aid of touch light and shot him in the abdomen.
“The doctor has removed 19 rounds of bullets from my stomach. It was one of my relatives that used his motorcycle to carry me to the hospital,” he recalled.
But even in his pains, he is still worried about coping in the aftermath of the massacre, saying: “My worry is that I have no house again to return to. I don’t have any questions to ask. All I know is that the government can come to our aid if only they want to. With the frequent attacks, the poor people are daily losing their hopes in Plateau State.”
Another victim, whose right hand was severed by the attackers, Jang Chung, 62, has now been rendered incapacitated to cater for his seven children and wife, Mary. His thought is on the next line of action, the stark reality of his condition having dawned on him.
He had survived the first attack when their attackers suddenly appeared from nowhere, fully armed, around 10am on that Sunday and descended on him, amputating his right hand with machetes in the process.
“They started killing and maiming people with machetes. I was one of the unlucky ones. After they left, the security agents came to arrest my children. The attackers still had the effrontery to come back later and burn down my house and go away with valuable household items,” he narrated.
Ghungwom regretted that his children who would have donated blood to save his life are now in police custody.
“We have been buying drugs by ourselves. That means that we are going to be responsible for other hospital bills,” he told The Guardian.
Dennis Pam Chundusu, 54, Chairman of Jos branch of Gwomjang Development Association had gone to his village, Gimti, the previous day, but left with sorrow and against the backdrop of bloodbath.
“I went to the village to visit my brothers and sisters. It was around 2am when these armed men attacked us. They used to be our neighbours before they dispersed on their own accord during the Jos crisis,” he said.
He recounted how his people had been receiving text messages that they should be prepared for the worst.
“I received their leaflets threatening that they were going to attack churches, government offices and police headquarters. They stated that they are being financed by some people outside the country,” he alleged.
Asked why they didn’t prepare for the premeditated onslaught, he retorted: “How can we be prepared? We thought it was all rumours. We could not believe that it will come to pass,” he maintained.
The father of seven recalled that about 14 of the attackers broke into his room. “Two people in army uniforms were leading them. They were shooting and clearing way for them. The other people were burning and looting during the first attack. They later came back with a vehicle to load their booty, setting all the houses on fire and burning the items they could not carry.”
Even though he survived with his nephew, Joshua, he is pained that so many of his kits and kin had been sent to the grave.
At Hwolshe, popularly referred to as the students’ village of the Polytechnic, youths and the students suspected a man looking tattered to be carrying an object that looked like an explosive in his bag.
Youths and the students from Hwolshe, a stone throw from the Polytechnic, accosted the man to know the content of his bag. But an eyewitness said that the incident attracted the attention of the policemen and soldiers, who rushed to the scene.
The man’s bag was reportedly later opened and garri and other menial things were found inside.
But the students had barricaded the road preventing motorists coming into and out of Jos for almost an hour. As the security men shielded the man away, there was a pandemonium, which led to the shooting by the security agents that resulted in the death of one of the students, while six others sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment.
At the hospital, the Acting Rector of the Polytechnic, Mr. Dauda Gyemang, appealed to the students, who had gathered there to disperse to avoid the breakdown of law and order. But the students refused to shift ground.
On Thursday, a body of a young motorcycle rider believed to have been stabbed in the early hours of the day was deposited in the Plateau State Specialist Hospital.
Army Private Mohammed Garba, who helped to convey the body of the victim to the hospital, said the incident occurred at Bauchi Road, Jos.
He said he was alerted about the attack by a woman, adding that before he could get to the scene the assailants had already escaped. He said an identity card found on the body of the deceased bore the name Henry Hamidu of Walima Nigeria Limited.
The soldier added that he had to plead with one Sanusi Nurudeen who was travelling from Jos to Jalingo to convey the body to the hospital. The man on duty at the hospital said the victim was brought in at 7.45am.
Head of the Department of Surgery at the Hospital, Dr. Bestman Golwa confirmed the incident.
Efforts to get the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mohammed Lerama, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) to speak on the three incidents were unsuccessful, as his phone was engaged.
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