78 given mass burial amid fear of further attacks
Defend yourselves, ECWA charges Nigerians
Bloodthirsty terrorists have killed 80 persons and abducted 70 others after an invasion of some communities in Plateau State. The villages, which were attacked on Sunday, included Kukawa, Gyambawu, Dungur, Kyaram, Yelwa, Dadda, Wanka, Shuwaka, Gwammadaji, and Dadin Kowa.
Regrettably, while terrorists soiled the state in blood and danger, Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, was busy in Abuja holding political meetings with a former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Bola Tinubu, over the latter’s presidential ambition. Observers said this was a reflection of the growing insensitivity of the country’s political leaders.
As the security situation across the country continued to deteriorate, with lives and livelihoods being helplessly ruined, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) charged Nigerians to defend themselves from attackers. The charge was contained in a communiqué by ECWA President, Rev. Stephen Panya, and General Secretary, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, at the end of the 69th General Church Council meeting held at the church headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.
Lalong, it was gathered, was the only governor that attended the presidential declaration by Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, on Saturday.
As the governor was attending meetings with Tinubu, alongside other governors, 78 victims of the terrorist attack on the villages in Kanam Local Government Area were being buried in mass graves in their respective communities amid wailing by loved ones and the villagers. Lalong sat pretty at Kebbi Governor’s Lodge to listen to Tinubu speak on his presidential interest.
Some of the residents of the communities, who escaped the attacks, expressed worries that terrorists now lived around them, and called on the government and security agencies to come to their rescue.
One resident, who preferred anonymity for security reasons, said, “It is sad that innocent persons were killed without any form of provocation. We no longer feel safe in our homes and communities. We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Simon Lalong, and security operatives to come to our rescue.”
The villagers narrated that the terrorists invaded their communities on motorbikes in large numbers and shot sporadically, killing and maiming residents of seven communities.
Though the presence of security forces has increased, villagers were however seen fleeing the communities for fear of subsequent attacks.
Indigenes in the villages that were attacked said they recovered over 80 corpses from the attacks, adding that more corpses were still being recovered from the neighbouring bushes.
A source from the communities, Mr. Fanya Ali, said, 70 persons might have been abducted, as their whereabouts remained unknown. Ali added that at least 80 houses were burnt.
Ali said 36 persons were killed in Kukawa, 27 in Gyambau, 11 in Wanka, and eight in Kyaram. He added that the figures from the other villages were yet to be obtained.
According to Ali, many of the injured victims have been admitted at Dengi General Hospital and Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).
Another eyewitness, Sariki Bitrus, said many women and children were missing, fearing the terrorists may have abducted them. Bitrus lamented that the people were in dire need of assistance as they have been displaced from their homes.
Lamenting the attack, Plateau Elders Forum, in a statement signed by Mr. Jonathan Ishaku, said it was shocked by the heinous assault on the innocent people of Kanam Local Government Area.
Ishaku stated, “Just within a week of our press release, in which we condemned terrorist attacks on Miango villages in Bassa Local Government Area and Rantis in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, bandits have allegedly killed several persons, wounded many and abducted over 70 in Kanam Local Government Area yesterday.
“This is again very sad and we strongly condemn it. This seeming escalation of violence on our communities further justifies the earlier call the Plateau Elders Forum made on the Plateau State Government, in conjunction with the security forces, to deal drastically with terrorists in the state.
“The security forces should ensure the immediate rescue of all abducted persons.”
The member representing Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Mr. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, described the attack as an annihilation scheme. Gagdi commiserated with the victims.
The lawmaker, who was in Madina for lesser Hajj, called for immediate military presence in the affected communities and those bordering them in order to arrest the surging activities of bandits in his constituency. He expressed worry over the federal government’s negligence and failure to provide security for Plateau communities, despite intelligence reports by the Department of State Services (DSS) about the influx of criminal elements into the state and some neighbouring states.
Gagdi stated, “The federal government, which has exclusive control of security apparatus in the country, has woefully failed in its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of Nigerians.”
He expressed outrage at the devastating state of security in the country, arguing that somebody has been negligent in the discharge of his duties to Nigerians. He maintained that it was high time the federal government-owned up to its inability to discharge this sacrosanct duty it owed Nigerians.
Gagdi advised citizens within the boundary communities, particularly in Wase and Kanam local government areas of the state, to be on the alert, as fleeing bandits from Zamfara and other North-west states had been traced to camps within the forests in the local government areas.
Meanwhile, the Plateau State government, in a statement yesterday warned that the state would not be a haven for terrorists and other criminals fleeing from other parts of the country. The statement quoted Lalong as urging the security agencies to go after the terrorists.
The statement signed by Lalong’s media aide, Makut Macham, said the governor expressed regrets over the dastardly act, saying he has directed security forces to dominate the area after their initial response that put a stop to the carnage.
It said the State Security Council had adopted far-reaching measures to strengthen security by enhancing the capacity of the security agencies to respond to all situations that cause a breach of the peace in any part of the state.
The statement also said Lalong sympathised with the communities affected, and promised them justice, saying those behind the attacks would not be allowed to go without punishment. He directed the State Emergency Management Agency and the Peace Building Agency to immediately visit the affected areas, assess the situation, and provide relief as well as trauma management.
The governor added that the state had already approached the federal government for collaboration to deal with the terrorists hibernating in the general area, once and for all, to enable people go about their legitimate businesses without molestation and harassment.
The spokesman of the state Police Command, Mr. Ubah Gabriel, said the police could not confirm the figure of casualties at the moment. Gabriel said, “Our men have been there since yesterday combing the forests around affected communities. I would give you the full details of the casualties as soon as get it.”
Defend Yourselves, ECWA Charges Nigerians
Amid the deteriorating security situation across the country, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) charged Nigerians to defend themselves from attackers. This was contained in a communiqué signed by ECWA President, Rev. Stephen Panya, and General Secretary, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, at the end of the 69th General Church Council meeting held at the church headquarters in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
On the unremitting killings and abductions of citizens in Kaduna, Kebbi, Zanfara, Plateau, Niger and other states of the country, ECWA called on the government to arrest the situation.
It decried the failure of the government to carry out its constitutional responsibility of securing the lives and property of its citizens, despite the huge amounts being spent on security. ECWA called on all tiers of government to do all they could to secure the release of innocent citizens still being held by terrorists and bandits across Nigeria.
According to the council, “it is very worrisome that Nigeria today has continued to witness the increasing activities of radical Islamic terrorist groups, which include Fulani Jihadist militia, Boko Haram, ISWAP, and bandits terrorising the country under the watch of this government, and the government is not doing enough to stop it, It’s really unfortunate.”
In the communiqué, the church expressed worry over the deplorable condition of infrastructure in the country as well as the forceful occupation of ancestral lands by terrorists. It called on the government to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) returned to their homes and were given farming tools to enable them to continue their occupations.
The council also called on the government to intensify efforts toward salvaging Nigeria, adding that the rising wave of corruption and the near-total collapse of the economy has left Nigerians struggling for survival.
The church called on the federal government and striking labour unions, especially the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Non-academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU), to put the interest of the nation first and resolve the industrial crisis as soon as possible.
ECWA expressed concern over the biting hunger among Nigerians due to the shortage of food supply as a result of insecurity that had paralysed the activities of farmers. It noted with concern the increasing rate of unemployment and called on members of the church to shun political apathy and actively join political parties of their choice to help in building the country.
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