AFRIQUE/MONDE

Nigeria: Tragedy hits Plateau State, over 160 lives lost

Written by Dr. Florence Akano

The attacks, which took place in Mangu and Bokkos local government areas, sent shockwaves through the communities, prompting the Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, to vow that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Governor Mutfwang expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of innocent lives, particularly during a season that should be marked by peace and joy. He decried the senseless and unprovoked nature of the attacks, stating, “Enough is enough. We cannot continue these senseless, stupid, unprovoked attacks. It is totally uncalled for.”

The violence, which initially erupted in the Bokkos area, spilt into the neighbouring Barkin Ladi, claiming an additional 30 lives, according to local chairman Danjuma Dakil. This region has long been a hotspot for tension between transhumant herders and sedentary farmers competing for natural resources. Climate change and demographic challenges in Nigeria, a nation of 215 million inhabitants, have further fueled this longstanding conflict.

The governor criticized security agencies for their perceived reactionary strategies, calling for a shift towards proactive measures to prevent such attacks. “We will not rest until we bring those guilty of these dastardly acts to book. In conjunction with other security agencies, Clearance operations would commence immediately,” declared Nigerian Army commander Abdullsalam Abubakar.

One key concern Governor Mutfwang raised is the lack of arrests and prosecutions, contributing to a sense among citizens that the attackers are being protected. This criticism underscores the need for a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of the conflict and ensure accountability for the perpetrators.

The attacks, reportedly carried out by military gangs referred to as “bandits,” targeted more than 20 different communities. The death toll, initially reported as 16 by the army, sharply rose to at least 160 as local government officials provided a more accurate account of the scale of the tragedy. Over 300 wounded individuals were transferred to hospitals in Bokkos, Jos, and Barkin Ladi, highlighting the severity of the situation.

In response to the escalating crisis, Governor Mutfwang’s spokesperson, Gyang Bere, assured the public that the government would take proactive measures to curb ongoing attacks against innocent civilians. Local leaders, including Dickson Chollom, a member of the state parliament, condemned the attacks and urged security forces to act swiftly. Chollom emphasized the community’s unity in pursuing justice and lasting peace.

Internationally, Amnesty International criticized the Nigerian authorities for failing to address the frequent deadly attacks on rural communities in Plateau state. The organization highlighted the urgent need for the government to address the security challenges in the region and protect vulnerable populations.

As gunfire continued to be heard in the region, the devastating attacks underscored the immediate need for a comprehensive and proactive approach to address the complex issues contributing to the security crisis in Plateau state.

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Dr. Florence Akano

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