As President Muhammadu Buhari was rounding off his visit to Plateau State on Friday morning, there was devastating news of yet fresh mass killings by Fulani herdsmen in two local governments in the state.
No fewer than 11 persons were killed in Bassa and Bokkos local government areas of the state, while many others sustained varying degrees of injuries in two separate attacks by suspected herdsmen.
President Buhari left Plateau State around 12.30 pm on Friday. The news of the killings came after he left Jos for Abuja.
The National President of Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Mr Sunday Abdu, confirmed the attacks to journalists in Jos on Friday. He said the unfortunate incident happened in the early hours of Friday in Miango part of the area when some suspected herdsmen stormed the area and attacked people at random.
According to him, “Yes, it is true that five people were killed in Miango by Fulani herdsmen in an attack which took place overnight and lasted till the early part of this morning. Others were wounded in the unprovoked attack. The bodies of the five slaughtered people have been deposited at the morgue. We are no longer in a hurry to bury our dead. Whenever we are going to bury them, we will let you people know.
“The Fulani herdsmen are killing us but they are the ones crying. What kind of pretence is that? I still appeal to the security personnel not to relent but step up more vigilance and surveillance to stop this pogrom and unwarranted carnage.”
Another six people were reportedly killed in Ganda Village of Dafu District in Bokkos Local Government Area of the state by people suspected to be herdsmen on Thursday.
Mr. Matawa Mankut, a community leader in Bokkos, who confirmed this on Friday afternoon to journalists, blamed herdsmen, who went on a shooting spree as they entered the village.
“We are at the burial ground in Ganda village to give the deceased a mass burial. Our appeal to both the state and federal governments is that they should not relent in their efforts to safeguard the lives and property of the villagers.
“Yes, there is peace in Plateau metropolis but those of us in the villages are facing fire. In fact, this is a holocaust aimed at annihilating our race. So, they should come and assist us and should not leave us in the lurch,” she pleaded.
The spokesman of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major Adam Umar, confirmed the two incidents. He said when the unfortunate incident happened in Bassa , the people alerted the OPSH personnel and they responded swiftly and mobilised to the scene.
But, according to Umar, before the men got there, the attackers had fled. He added that soldiers of the command are now fully in charge of the area as patrols have been intensified with a view to getting the perpetrators.
On the incident in Bokkos, he said men of OPSH had been deployed to the affected community, adding that the causality figure was yet to be ascertained. He appealed to the people to always be vigilant and be security conscious by reporting any strange object or movement to the nearest security agency for prompt attention.
The two local government areas have been under the siege of Fulani herdsmen in the past six months. There is no week without one form of attack or the other in the local governments. Both the natives and the herdsmen have been trading blames over the unfortunate killings which have refused to abate.
Violence escalates in Taraba, 24-hour curfew imposed
Rural communities in Taraba state, were on Friday on indefinite lockdown as the authorities tried to contain mounting violence between cattle herders and farmers.
Police spokesman David Misal told the AFP that a round-the-clock curfew has been imposed in affected areas “due to the escalation of violence between Fulani and Mambilla ethnic groups”.
At least 10 people were killed in several days of violence in Taraba last week into the weekend, while some 24 lost their lives in Benue in the last few days.
Misal said there were reports that the violence was spreading but gave no further details.
“The government, after consultation with security agencies, finds it necessary to impose a curfew in order to allow security operatives to restore peace,” he told AFP.
“From Wednesday, residents in (the affected areas) have been ordered to remain indoors day and night indefinitely until the security situation is reviewed.”
The Mambilla area of Taraba lies on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon and is a herding and farming hub reputed for fertile land, lush vegetation and abundant water.
Tensions have been running high for many years between herders and farmers over increasingly precious resources.
Last year, the cattle herders union claimed more than 700 people were killed in violence, although the authorities gave a much lower death toll.
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