COMMUNITY LEADER ACCUSES NIGERIAN ARMY OF AIDING FULANI GUNMEN TO MASSACRE 29 PERSONS TAKING REFUGE IN A CLASSROOM

The Irigwe Development Association has accused the Nigerian Army and Plateau state government of allegedly conniving with Fulani gunmen who killed 29 persons today(16/11/17) in Nkiedonwhro village, Bassa LGA

The spokesman of the Irigwe Development Association, Hon Sunday Abdu at a press conference held at the NUJ, Plateau state council in Jos, said; “we the Irigwe people are dissatisfied with the operations of the military in Bassa LGA following renew killings of our people by suspected Fulani gunmen.”

Speaking further he alleged that at least 29 people were massacred inside a public primary school where the victims took refuge from the onslaught of alleged marauding Fulani gunmen as well as their houses that were burnt.

 The association questioned the reliability of the military and state government over dusk to dawn curfew.

Hon Sunday Abdu said while he did not doubt the capacity of the nation’s military to safeguard the lives of the civilian population but demanded a proof of their capacity.

“We are not questioning their capacity or sagacity.

“We are only saying that if we have securities in this country, let them prove it to us,” it said.

The IDA questioned the motive behind the recent curfew imposed on the local government by the state government, saying it has given the assailants freehand to operate while holding the locals from defending themselves.

It expressed worry over the manner government has responded to the conflict in the LGA, fearing the possibility of a large-scale humanitarian disaster in the state.

It, therefore, called on other ethnic nationalities in the state to rise up in defense of the vulnerable groups, to safeguard the future of the state.

The attack in the locality was said to have been carried out in a Primary school used by the Special Task Force (STF) as an operational base.

Sources say women and children had been camped by the military in the school after rumours of an attack were received.

While taking refuge in one of the classes in the school, the soldiers reportedly withdrew from the premises thus leading to the killing of about 26 people by gunmen.

Three other people who reportedly escaped from the classroom attack were ambushed and killed some meters away from the school, sources say.

The alleged complacency by the military follows the killing of a young man last week Wednesday in a nearby village by a member of the STF over a girlfriend, according to reports.

Women in the community had on Thursday last week staged a protest demanding the withdrawal of the army from the village after a similar exercise by youths on Wednesday night.

The state government responded to the situation and other instances of attacks in the locality through the imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew.

More attacks have however been reported in different villages in the LGA ever since, forcing the government to issue a statement expressing worry, where it also described the activities of the assailants as terrorists.

Earlier Report by this platform indicates that about 27 people were believed to have been killed in a fresh attack in Nkiedonwhro, Irigwe chiefdom of Plateau State’s Bassa LGA.

The attack said to have been carried out by suspected Fulani occurred at the early hours of Monday.

The latest is about the 3rd in a series of attacks in the LGA since the state government imposed a curfew therein.

The government had imposed the curfew to check such incidences of attacks.

It had on Sunday released a statement saying the attackers were hiding among the locals.

In the statement signed by its Director, Press and Public Affairs, Emmanuel Nanle, the Simon Lalong led government vowed to fish out the attackers.

The latest incident, therefore, poses a fresh challenge for the government in its quest to rid the state of violent attacks.

As at the time of filing this report, no official statement had been received on the incident in Nkiedonwhro. The entire Irigwe Nation in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State wishes to let the world know that since the gruesome attack on Ncha Village on the 7th September 2017, where more than twenty people were killed, mostly women and children and houses razed, Rigwe land has not known peace.

“It should be known today, that since the Ncha incident, the assailants have continued to launch night attacks in our communities, in line with their earlier threat that Ncha was just the beginning.

“We have continually woken up to news of attacks each day leaving tears, sorrow, despair, and apprehension.

“For the avoidance of doubt, here are details of some of the attacks after Ncha:

Hukke – 9th September 2017 – 2 persons killed including a soldier,

Nkie Dongwro – 8th October – 1 killed and another wounded.

Kpachudu – 10th October – A young man, Solomon Elisha killed allegedly by a Mobile Policeman, member of STF.

Nzhweruvo and Tafigana –  11th October, – 3 dead and houses razed down.

Rikwe Chongu – 12th October, – Houses razed down.

Taegbe – 14th October, – 6 dead, 5 injured and houses razed.

Nkyie Doghwro – 16th October – 29 dead, 3 injured at a School used as a Camp and protected by security.”

“At all these locations, and in all these attacks, lives as already stated above were lost, our people lost their lives, houses razed, leaving in their wake, tears, sorrow, and despair.

“It is painful to note that all these happened despite useful timely information provided to security personnel, regarding movement and mode of operation of the assailants.”

The statement said thus; “These attacks have continued in sequence and unstopped while no single attacker has been arrested by the security agents who will rather arrest and detain helpless natives on suspicion of possessing any form of weapon for self-defense.”

“We have had the course to bail out so many of our youths from security agencies, while many are still languishing in detention, while no single Fulani herdsman has been arrested since the Ncha attack despite after we provided relevant information, e.g. handset found on the ground during the attack.  We ask where the justice is.”

“Much as we understand the steps taken by Government through the deployment of security personnel to our area, we will like to state here that the much-anticipated respite has eluded us, except constant harassment of our people at the various checkpoints they mounted,” he said.

“We had thought that since the invaders emanate from the hills and bushes, they will deploy their energies and expertise there.

“You will recall that our women in apparent dissatisfaction with the security agencies nonperformance staged a protest in Jebbu Miango.

Although many have questioned their move, we consider it a desperate act by mothers who alone know the pains of childbirth and seeing their youths are being killed every day definitely elicits such reaction.”

“Since the outbreak of these orchestrated attacks aimed at wiping our people from the face of the earth, we have held series of meetings with various stakeholders including security and the Fulanis, but the Fulanis have continued to be in denial of sponsoring these attacks, nothing has changed.

“In reaction to this continuous annihilation of our people, the Plateau State Government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in our area. We had viewed this as a relief, but not knowing that it will yet; open another avenue for the Fulani attackers to operate unhindered, while our people were caged by the curfew, which the security men enforce religiously.  This is unfortunate!”

Speaking further he said; “For the avoidance of doubt, Kpachudu village was attacked on the first day of the curfew, and Nzhwerivo on the second day. The siege has continued with nothing done to review the effectiveness or otherwise of the curfew.”

“The fact that the attacks have continued till date only confirms the skepticism of our people who had questioned its essence, as they now say it is obvious the curfew was only for the Irigwe people and not for the marauding herdsmen.

We, therefore, urge the Government, if it must keep the curfew to do the needful and that is stopping these nightly attacks on our people.  Curfew should not be used as a weapon of war on our people.”

“We had expected that by now, given the presence of security personnel, the attackers, if not arrested, would have been driven away, but it seems the security personnel is only bent on mounting checkpoints and operating questionable cordon and search operations for non-existing weapons in our peoples’ homes.

“If our people had such as they are looking for, we would rather deploy them to protecting our land than hide them at home. As we speak, a humanitarian situation looms in our land, as women and children have been displaced, while feeding is becoming impossible in homes that have accepted internal refugees.  And this has spilled into Jos, where women and children stream in to find refuge with relations.

Our people cannot go to their farms anymore, even as harvest is near for fear of attacks by herdsmen who openly graze on ripe crops. We will like to state here also, that no aid agency, government or private has visited our land to provide relief materials; we are left at the mercy of our fate.”

“Gentlemen of the press, we are faced with a situation that needs the collaboration of all. We, therefore, urge that beyond the usual condemnation, by government officials, all relevant stakeholders must take practical steps at saving our people, if indeed we are part of Plateau State and Nigeria.

Plateau people, it is Rigweland today, it may be another ethnic nationality tomorrow, pause and ask yourself if it were my people, what will I do?”

“We see the continuous orgy of violence visited on Plateau Communities as a calculated attempt, move by the so-called “Unknown gunmen” to exterminate our tribes and enshrine an obvious agenda. As Plateau people, we must set aside our pre-colonial rivals, join forces and see an injury to one as injury to all so that we can defeat the forces that want to wipe us from our land.

As I end this address, I am unsure of which helpless village is next in line, in this orgy of nightly attacks.  We have faith in the ability of our security agencies to take practical steps if they are willing to end these attacks.  We want to see arrests; we want these people out of our land and Plateau State.”

“Rigweland is a nation under God and we shall continue to look up to him for succor and directions.”

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