The President ,Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Native Dr Aboi JK Madaki has expressed worried that the spate of attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen, which has been on – going in some parts of Plateau State resulting in the deaths of many innocent people.
The recent attacks involving more than 11 villages and claiming over 200 lives clearly showed that Plateau is under siege with some of the press labelling it as Plateau Genocide, Ethnic Genocide and Ethnic-cleansing.
“I wish to leave what it should be called to your imagination. PIDAN in collaboration with the Conference of autochthonous Ethnic Community Development Association (CONAEDA) has a Committee on affected communities known as Committee of frontline communities and our data from members of the committee revealed the following deaths in four local government areas in the June 2018.”
Dr Madaki stressed that the attacks in Barkin Ladi left -205 dead; Riyom-9; Jos South 3 and Mangu -2.
The Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN), as the umbrella body of all the ethnic nationalities in Plateau State and owners of the Plateau land, addresses you today with heavy heart on the high toll of deaths in the State.
Indeed, this is a moment of mourning which calls for sober reflection. First and foremost, we wish to commiserate with the bereaved families, the various tribes affected, the communities where these unfortunate incidences took place, the people and indeed the Government of Plateau State over these unfortunate incidences. We wish the injured quick recovery.
As you are aware, these systematic attacks and killings of innocent citizens of the State has been on for a long time, but became intensive in the months of May and June 2018. Analysis of previous attacks has shown that such are usually Gorilla and ambush in nature with guns and machetes. About 97% of attacks usually remained unrepelled and in 96% of cases no arrest is made.
Villages that had been under constant attacks have been in Barkin Ladi LGA-20; Riyom
LGA-12; Bassa LGA – 6; Bokkos LGA-2.
Villages in which the natives have been sacked include the following:
Barkin Ladi LGA (22) Riyom LGA (18) Bokkos LGA (7) Bassa (5)
There is need to adopt measures similar to those use in the North-East on invaded communities to dislodge the invaders from the 52 villages and return the displaced persons to their ancestral communities.
A quick review of the spate of attacks since January 2018 showed that several lives were lost in many communities of Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Bokkos, Riyom,Jos South, Jos North and Mangu Local Government Areas.
Furthermore, in the June attacks, houses and properties in 15 villages from the four Local Government Areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Jos South and Mangu were destroyed, leaving scores of people homeless and a large number of farm crops destroyed. As we talk to you at these moments, there are many wounded and injured people in various medical facilities within and outside the state, receiving medical attention.
We condemn in strong terms, these attacks on innocent and defenseless persons in the communities and consider such dastardly acts as callous, barbaric and inhuman. We wish to state that we shall no longer condone such unprovocative attacks, for an attack on any community will be an attack on all the people of the Plateau State.
We take exception to the statement credited to the spoke person of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) as reported in the Guardian of 26-6-2018, that ‘the killings were reprisals following the disappearance of 5 of their members and several cow rustling incidences in Barkin Ladi area’. We are equally aware of the utterances of some Fulani leaders in the State on the aftermath of the killings, where they corroborated the statement that the killings were retaliatory and will continue. It is unfortunate that those credited with war tuned statements are still working freely in the streets without being arrested. We call on the security agencies to investigate the leadership of MACBAN and those found guilty of this heinous crime be prosecuted.
Amnesty International Nigeria Press Release of 28-06-18 reported that the last attacks in 11 villages in Plateau State went on for 7 hours killing about 200 people without intervention from the security forces. This is a clear testimony of the poor and inefficient response to conflict situations in the State by the current security architecture.
This is not acceptable. We call on both the State and Federal Governments to review the security architecture and reposition the security system to allow it to respond to early warning within 10 minutes in line with the global best practice. The repositioned system should allow the Chief Security officer of the State have the power to draw on the security operatives in the early phase of any attack without making recourse to the President of the Federal Republic. This arrangement will certainly reduce the level of loss of lives and property in future events. The reviewed system should also make available more police posts at the village level as well as strengthen the village-level vigilante system to work effectively towards enhanced community policing thereby improving security at the community level.
We are aware of the various measures put in place by both the State and Federal Governments to checkmate further escalation of attacks and killings, we are however of the view that additional strategies towards finding permanent solutions should be sought. As earlier stated, Government must be bold enough to arrest all those involved and prosecute them immediately.
A common observation at many sites of attacks has been the report of the use of sophisticated weapons which have been described as the type of weapons associated with terrorist attacks. In the light of this observation, we wish to urge the Government and its security operatives to conduct a thorough search of all the Fulani settlements in the State with the view to arresting those with weapons of mass killings and those found to be unknown or foreign to the conflict areas and settlements. It is also pertinent to point out that security operatives should also search the 52 sacked communities and their adjacent hills for both weapons and strangers to the conflict areas in the State.
It is pertinent to note that the constitution places all security matters under the presidency. This situation has left many state Governors, as chief security officers of their states, without power to immediately stop any crisis. This we believe has placed enormous restrained on our Governor’s efforts in addressing the spate of attacks in the State. We call on our members in the Senate and House of Representatives to liaise with their colleagues in similar high risk states and sponsor a bill that will grant more powers to governors to enable them draw on security operatives to wade off attacks in high risk or conflict zones within the shortest possible time.
We wish to observe with dismay that in spite of the spate of attacks on the Plateau, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), is not known to have provided relief material to any community in the State. We call on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, to direct NEMA to provide relief material to the affected communities.
While we await the response from NEMA, we urge the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMA) to swing into action without further delay and reduce the suffering of the displaced persons. We are equally calling on all Civil Society Organizations in the State in the humanitarian and relief sector to come to the aid of the displaced persons.
The incessant attacks on the Plateau, the large number of casualties, the destruction of properties and the high number of displaced persons including orphans have brought Plateau to a state of high humanitarian crisis. There is the urgent need for international and national relief agencies to come and assist the State Government and the communities in managing this disaster. Unfortunately, Plateau State is not part of the North-East Commission. We wish to call on the Federal Government to redirect the attention of the international relief organizations to Plateau State to assist with the management of the crisis.
We wish to acknowledge the request by the State Government for the establishment of a Mobile Police outpost in Gashish village of Barkin Ladi local government area of the State, and we are of the view that given the magnitude of the fire power these suspected herdsmen have, additional mobile barracks should be stationed in Barkin Ladi town and another one close to the NYSC Orientation camp along the border of Mangu and Barkin Ladi local Government Areas.
Furthermore, we wish to appreciate the Plateau State government’s efforts on its request to the Federal Government for a special intervention fund to enable it rebuild destroyed communities and return people to their homes. We are equally pleased with the State Government’s efforts in restoring confidence, especially to the people of the affected areas by reassuring them that Government will not allow grabbing of any land by anyone. We wish to further urge the Government to take immediate action in line with this statement and pursue with vigor the request for the special intervention fund with the Presidency to enable it commence the return of displaced persons to their communities with priority accorded the 52 invaded villages.
We call on the citizens to support the government in its efforts to improve security in the communities and return displaced persons to their ancestral homes.
We are really pleased to note and acknowledge the initiatives of local groups towards assisting the displaced persons through the setting up of relief material committees. In this light, we commend the efforts of the Plateau State Lecturers in the University of Jos under the platform ‘Plateau Forum UniJos’ relief Material Committee and the Plateau Indigenous Doctors Consultative Forum (PIDCF) relief material group. It is our belief that the relief material from these group will go a long way to in adding value to the lives of the displaced persons especially those in designated IDPs camps.
PIDAN once again, wishes to express its sympathy and condolence to the affected families and communities and prays that God almighty shall grant them the fortitude to bear the losses. We equally wish to call on leaders of all the Development Associations to guide their memberships toward achieving peace in their respective domains. We are aware of the constitutional rights of the people to free protest, but we take strong exceptions to situations where peaceful protests on the killings take different dimensions leading to further loss of lives and destruction of properties as witnessed in cases of roadblocks and Government premises. This is not acceptable and we wish to caution our members to maintain peace and order and to report any suspicious moves or faces within their communities to the authorities. We equally wish to appeal to all citizens of the State to be law abiding.
Finally, we wish to acknowledge our partnership with the Coalition of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the State in the build up to this conference and our long term collaboration with CONAEDA in building a peaceful Society. We look forward to working together towards long lasting peace on the Plateau.