Gyang Bere, Jos
Samson Duh, a 56-year-old resident of Ancha community in Miango District, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, will not forget Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in a hurry. He came face to face with death, but lived to tell the story.
His story is painful anyway. Escaping from the terror of armed herdsmen alongside his family members was an introductory chapter of his pains, being hit by several bullets as they fled was the climax. He was rushed, afterwards, by sympathizers to a nearby hospital where he was saved by the bell.
Several bullets were extracted from his body as he was admitted in the facility for many days before he was discharged to go home, which had been emptied by the same marauders who sought to end his life.
He told Daily Sun, with obvious despair, that, by the time he returned, his building and property had been wrecked; he lost everything that he laboured for throughout his life. His house was set on fire and his barn, which was set for harvest, was also destroyed. His other possessions were no less misappropriated or destroyed. Displaced, he has nothing to hold on to and now, and he moves from place to place in search of help.
Duh, who had lost two of his children in a previous attack on the community, is now taking refuge in an uncompleted building in a neighbouring village. Most of the members of his community have fled for their safety, leaving the village empty and at the mercy of the herdsmen.
Looking back, he recalled that nothing prepared the community for the admixture of death and sorrow that became their fate as the invaders gave no warning and prior notice: “They just besieged us with fierce anger, hate and destruction, killing and destroying anything in sight.”
Listing their misfortunes, Duh noted that three resourceful and energetic young men in the community, who had been protecting the lives of vulnerable ones were murdered by the suspected herdsmen during the attack: “As if that was not enough, they proceeded to Ngbrazongo community, where they killed four more persons and injured others.”
A resident of Ngbrazongo, Chayi Biri, confirmed the attack. He gave the names of the deceased as Dih Sunday aged 21; Duh Abba, aged 38; and Ishaku Abba, who was aged 10. They have all been buried. He said he narrowly escaped death: “The gunmen wore black clothes. I saw six of them with my two eyes. In fact, they came close to my room, I could hear their footsteps. I must say that God helped me to escape.
“They killed four people in our community, including a pastor, during that attack, which lasted unchecked for about an hour or so. Thereafter, they followed the back of our house and made their way towards Dusen Kaura village.”
Another resident, Gata Moses, attributed their current attacks to the withdrawal of soldiers and other security agents initially posted to protect them: “This is the second time this community is experiencing a bloody attack within two weeks. Can you imagine? I believe that the withdrawal of these soldiers from their post in the community contributed a lot to the series of attacks being recorded here and in the neighbouring villages.
“The security agents in this country are not doing enough to see an end to these attacks, because none of the attackers, who are known to be Fulani herdsmen, has been arrested.
“The government is silent over what is going on in our community, despite the fact that we have government representatives from our constituency. The authorities must rise up to their responsibility of protecting the lives and property of our people.
“Security officials will only arrive long after people have been killed, after the evil deed is done. This has always been the case. This is what happened in the latest killing. We have lost hope. We have no hope in this government, because they have failed us completely.”
President, Irigwe Development Association, Sunday Abdu, condemned the persistent attacks on their communities and called on government to help them out: “We are deeply concerned about the obvious silence of the Plateau State government over these resumed hostilities on our soil.
“Is it because the government is concerned about the raging coronavirus pandemic that we are almost abandoned to the gruesome activities of Fulani marauders? If the government does not rise up to tackle this challenge, Irigweland would be wiped out, even before the COVID-19 comes close to Plateau State.
“We want to sincerely appeal to the military authorities in the state to, as a matter of urgency, redeploy their personnel to our community. They should return to their duty post in this community.
“If during their presence, the killers could still launch attacks on these communities, one wonders what would happen now that they have been withdrawn. We are tempted to feel that the withdrawal of the troops may have motivated the rampaging herdsmen to continue in their campaign of blood. We, therefore, appeal that the authorities hear our cry.
“Also, we want to appeal to the state government to wade in by talking to the top echelon of the military to do the needful. We are a peace-loving people who work on a daily basis to ensure the sustenance of our people.
“Unfortunately, our people are now homeless and helpless. As we go to sleep today, only God knows which community is next. We are, therefore, asking for assistance for our displaced relatives and community members, especially as this is coming at a terrible time of national emergency.”