Gyang Bere, Jos
Villagers in Hwura community, Kwall District of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, are passing through excruciating pain at the moment.
On Tuesday, April 14, while the entire state was observing the mandatory COVID-19 total lockdown, the community was invaded by bandits suspected to be Fulani. Nine persons were killed during the attack.
Among the deceased was a nine-month-old pregnant woman. She was butchered along with her children.
The attackers inflicted severe injuries on those who escaped their gunshots and displaced the entire community.
Right now, those lucky to have survived the attack are homeless. As many as 23 houses were burnt, along with foodstuff and valuables worth millions of naira.
The survivors, made up of mostly children and the aged, are now fleeing the community due to hunger and fear, even as they have nowhere to take refuge.
A 13-year-old orphan, Mary Danladi Adamu, who lost her father during a previous attack, was seen leading four of her siblings, Stephen David, nine, Daniel David, six, Ishaya David Adamu, five, and four-year-old Friday Monday Adamu out of the village to an unknown destination even though they survived the raid.
Their mother, Christy Danladi Adamu, who survived the attack with injuries, is helpless and hopeless. She became the breadwinner of the family following the murder of her husband, Danladi Adamu, who was brutally killed and his body burnt.
The widow, who is wallowing in despair, decided to send her children to Kwall to stay temporarily with some relatives after losing everything they had, including foodstuff.
Christy said: “I am helpless and losing the little hope I had. My house was burnt with foodstuff and everything I had. We escaped gunshots narrowly and I am alive with my children by the grace and mercy of God.
“I lost my husband few weeks ago in a similar attack. I don’t want my children to remain here because we don’t know what will happen next. It is better I die than lose my children.
“The last food they ate was some leftover. We couldn’t even warm the food because there was no cooking utensil left as they were all destroyed. We could not sleep since 7pm when the attackers came raiding as we all ran for safety into the bush.”
The children, including a four-year-old boy, trekked several kilometres to a safe environment, as there was no means of transportation.
A 20-year-old mother of two, Martha Rondu, who lives in Kwall, visited the village after the attack to evacuate her mother.
Although the woman and her household were not affected except their house and foodstuff that were burnt, Martha insisted on taking her mother and other relatives out of the village for fear of the unknown.
She said, “None of the parents were affected in the recent killings but they have been living in perpetual fear because of the siege laid on them by the marauders. This is the second attack after the last one that took place in June 2019, where three people were gunned down.”
It was observed that pregnant women were trapped, some carrying babies on the back and dragging others out of the troubled community.
The Plateau State Police Command, in a press statement issued by the police public relations officer, ASP Ubah Gabriel, confirmed that nine persons were murdered during the attack.
He said: “Unknown gunmen attacked Hwura village in Kwall District. As a result, nine persons were killed and 22 houses, two motorcycles and two generators were burnt.
“The commissioner of police immediately visited the community, along with some very senior officers of the command. More men have been deployed to the area to ensure that the community is peaceful and calm.”
He said the command was soliciting useful information from members of the public to assist the police in arresting the perpetrators of the evil act.
Similarly, the commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, has placed troops on red alert after his visit to the scene of the attack.
The commander, who described the attack as unfortunate, said that the military would hunt down perpetrators of the attack in no distant time.
Okonkwo assured people of the village of his readiness to stem the spate of wanton killings by increasing troops’ presence in the area.
He saluted the people’s resilience and advised them to remain law-abiding, even as he assured them that the operation was working hard to destroy criminal elements terrorising the area.
The commander also urged people of the village to cooperate with the military by providing timely information to the security agencies in a bid to bring sanity to the area.
Major General Okonkwo reiterated the Operation Safe Haven’s commitment to secure its joint operational areas with a clear mandate of building on the existing peace in its areas of responsibility.
Vice president, Irigwe Development Association, Chief Aweze Doro, applauded the Operation Safe Haven for its quick response to the incident and promised to help the operation with relevant information to sustain its onslaught against banditry and other criminal activities in the area. He noted that the continued presence of troops of Operation Safe Haven in the area would boost the morale of residents who are living in fear following the attack.
The councillor representing Danmangu Zodu ward in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, Dauda Bitrus, said dialogue between parties involved would go a long way in mitigating the crisis and bring lasting peace to the area.
The councillor lauded Operation Safe Haven for marking out plans to dominate the area with regular kinetic operations to flush out criminals wreaking havoc on villagers.