From Gyang Bere, Jos
Two dark weeks after a gang of bandits terrorised the people of Kushe, Kuru District, Jos South Local Government, Plateau State, and killed their sons and daughters, a 62-year-old widow, Esther Joseph, who lost her only son in the tragic attack, is still in deep shock.
The traumatised Esther, who lost her husband in a mysterious circumstance, years ago, is yet to come to terms with the reality of that bloody episode that claimed the lives of 12 innocent members of the community and injured five others on Sunday, June 14, 2021.
The siege took place at about 9:30 pm, a few hours after she parted with her son, Davou Pam. In fact, if only she knew that was their last meeting, if only she knew her son was going to be butchered on that sad night. But the future is never that of men to tell.
Esther saw her son walk away from home, stepping outside into the quiet evening. And with easy going smile, he looked behind his back, promising to return soon. But he never did. It was the last time she saw him alive and breathing. The next time she gazed at him, he was stone cold.
When the news of his death was finally broken to her, after attempts to keep her out of it had failed, she cried and wailed and cried again! And when his lifeless body was brought she wailed even more, vowing never to forgive her son’s killers.
Speaking to Daily Sun days after, at her home, it was all sobs. She lamented: “He was my only hope, my hope for tomorrow. But now he is gone, I am hopeless
“It would have been better if I had died in his place. God where are You? Why did this happen to me? Why? Why? Where do I start?”
She was not alone. This was a community of painful sorrow. Elsewhere, another bereaved member of community, Talatu James, felt a similar piercing pain. She lost her husband and his death has broken her soul.
“The thought of her husband’s death is too hard for her. Her mind all the time raced back and forth, wondering what would happen to her future,” said a relative.
Looking intently at the remains of her husband, she was quoted to have said: “So this is how you were killed, God will revenge for you. Your killers would certainly be uncovered, no matter how long it takes.”
The gunshots of the killers struck on the spot where most youths in the community usually come out to relax and prepare for the week’s activities. The killers waited patiently before striking hard, said an eyewitness. He said those perished in the bloody attack included Darap Ayuba, Stephen Ayuba, Ibrahim Monday Donka, Feng Gyang Dalong and Davou Matthew
Others were Naomi Samuel Mwankon, Kaneng Dung, James Fom, Gyang Juma, David, Dalyop and Chigwuze Emmanuel Paul. The survivors included Abigail Chuhwak, Kangyang John, Joy Sallau, Grace Dachung and Simon Mwangwong Jama.
Member representing Jos South/Jos East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dachung Musa Bagos, said: “You can imagine that 12 lives were wiped out in this attack. Government must rise to its responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the people.
“Security must not be one sided. Government must provide security for all. I want to assure the people that I will stand by them at this time. I will stand with the families that lost their loved ones.
“If government could not protect the people, then the people must defend themselves. This is the reason we have been stressing the need for the creation of state police.
“Intelligence gathering is key in this regard. Security agencies must not allow this kind of barbaric killing to happen again. Here, a generation has been wiped out.”
Chairman, Jos South Local Government, Gideon Davou Dandereng, described the killing as unacceptable: “You can see what happened here. This is a home where people live they were attacked and killed. This is barbaric and as human, this is what human can do to their fellow human beings. I completely disagree with this. It is unacceptable.
“I want security agencies fish out those who carried out this attack. Once this is done, confidence will be restored. I urge the community people to remain calm and allowed the security to do their job.”
The District Head of the affected community, Da Patrick Mandung, said: “I don’t know why people will come from different places to kill people and just go scot-free. I appeal to the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators. I condemn this act in totality and I want these people to be fished out.”
Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and representing Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, lamented that information about the attack was in the public domain, with regards to the place and time, yet government failed to act to save the people:
“I wish to sympathize with my people over the last attack that claimed 12 innocent lives. I urged the security agencies to be more proactive in discharging their constitutional responsibility of protecting the people. It is very unfortunate.”
Governor Simon Lalong called for increased surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as collaboration with security agencies to foil such attacks executed in a hit- and-run fashion by criminals. He said provoked attacks on soft targets must be stopped: “Government will never allow few criminal elements to create fear in the hearts of the citizens.
“Irrespective of the motive(s) behind the killings, this is a purely criminal activity. I have directed security agencies to swiftly investigate, pursue and arrest the perpetrators who must face justice.
“Despite the ugly incident, the spirit of the people will never be broken and their tolerance will not change as they remain a peaceful community who embrace all people irrespective of their backgrounds and harbour no grudge against anybody.”
Since the bloodbath, youths in the community have increased the level of their surveillance in the area in collaboration with community police, vigilance groups who keep vigil within and outside the neighbourhood.