Another bloodbath punctuated what would have been two months of peace in Plateau State. According to the spokesman of the Plateau State Police Command, Deputy Superintendent Tyopev Terna, unknown gunmen attacked Area of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State on September 2 at 8.30 p.m. The command immediately mobilised to the scene of the crime and discovered that some people were shot. The victims were rushed to Jos University Teaching Hospital. As a result of the attack, 11 persons were confirmed dead while the 12 persons were wounded. Youths in the neighbourhood staged a huge street protest in reaction to the killings and reportedly damaged a Police van and even attacked journalists who had arrived to cover the incident. However, eyewitness account said the gunmen arrived in a Hilux van and opened fire on the people they found in a relaxation spot in the premises of a hotel in the area. They also shot at several other locations as they later drove away. The state officials have been trying to calm nerves. The state governor has sent words of sympathy to the victims and the information commissioner has urged the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators while calling on members of the public to resist the temptation to resort to self-help.
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This attack has a familiar ring. It is the same scenario we have seen over and over again of a sudden outburst of violence and bloodshed in which many Nigerian citizens are killed and yet no one is caught. Appeals for the capture of the perpetrators are made. The security agencies always promise to arrest them, but in the end no one is arrested, let alone arraigned or eventually punished. That has been the heartbreaking part of these repeated killings in the last three years. The reactions of the youths are understandable though inexcusable; knowing that the unwarranted attack on the Police can only be counterproductive.
We would repeat for the umpteenth time that the Police and other security agencies owe it as their duty to apprehend the perpetrators of these murders. The mystery that has surrounded the numerous herdsmen killings has been the failure of the Federal Government to apprehend the perpetrators. It is for that reason that most Nigerians had agonised over the killings.
The last carnage in Plateau State was two months ago. On June 23-24 some herdsmen launched attacks on 15 communities across Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, and Mangu Local Government Areas which resulted in the death of 233 persons and the displacement of thousands. Till today there is no report of any arrest or arraignment of the perpetrators. An advocacy group, Stefanos Foundation, which conducted a thorough fact-finding on the incident, discovered that at least 11,515 persons were sheltered in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in 13 separate locations. In a 14-page report signed by its Programme Coordinator, Mark Lipdo, the Foundation also discovered that the affected areas were still vulnerable. From their records over 40 villages are now deserted in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs, and the locals have no hope of returning to their houses. The Foundation’s team of investigators and administrators, Abraham Hassan, Franco Majok, and Joel Vandespak happened to have been in the country when the killings occurred.
We appeal to the security agencies to rededicate themselves to the security of life and property of Nigerians, especially at the flashpoint states of Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Plateau. The agencies must work in the area of intelligence which ought to preempt the disasters before they occur. It is regrettable that after more than three years of these killings, our security agencies are still not in a position to intercept information about these attacks. The government should arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the killings. The committee inaugurated last week by the Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Dan Ali (retd), should work in bringing the killers to justice.