December 6, 2022

In Nigeria, foundation provides safety kits to watchmen in communities under threat

A watcher carries a torchlight and windbreaker jacket donated by ECCVN in Riyom

Jos (18 Nov. 2021): “These are dark days, and we do not know what lays ahead,” said Solomon Dalyop, the chief executive officer of Emancipation Center for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN) to The Light Bearer.

A small town human rights attorney in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State, Dalyop claims knowledge of secret plans to launch attacks on Christians in the buildup to Christmas – “a huge disaster this might be if nothing is done,” he said.

“We cannot depend on government securities,” noted Dalyop whose hometown – Rankum, located 20miles south of Jos the capital of Plateau State was captured by night raiders from the Fulani tribe on September 11, 2001 – the same day Al-qaeda terrorists launched attacks that killed close to 3000 people in America.

Through his non-governmental organization – ECCVN, Dalyop on November 12 and 17 distributed brand new smart phones, torchlights and windbreaker jackets to close to 200 civilian watchmen across four Local Government Areas (a unit similar to a county) in Plateau State.

The idea according to him is to lessen the risk of keeping overnight watch for the unarmed volunteers. “We do not expect that these kits will protect them from harm but would keep them from the hazards of staying out at cold hours of the night,” said Dalyop.

Dalyop (left) gives a watcher a set of security kits in Barkin Ladi

“We hope that they will be able to watch without being exposed to cold related ailments and share timely information for necessary actions,” he said.

The watchers were committed volunteers handpicked from communities facing threats of attacks, Dalyop said, and have likely suffered violence themselves, he added.

“Most of them have been attacked while keeping watch but they never relented. They still watched without anyone paying them so what we are doing is to just encourage them. We cannot pay for their sacrifices,” he said, noting that the watchers come from vulnerable towns in Bassa, Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Bokkos LGAs.

On July 15, two civilian watchers were killed by armed men wearing military uniforms in northwestern Riyom LGA in Plateau State, sparking protests by local women against the country’s unconcerned government.

Solomon has been advocating for victims of such attacks for over ten years. His non-governmental organization is reputed for giving advance warning of attacks and providing relief to victims in Central Nigeria.

In 2020, the organization gave out food aid, clothing and cash donations for healthcare, chiefly to victims of attacks worth more than N50million (121,975.17USD).

The organization also provides legal support to victims of human rights abuse, making Dalyop a target of attack by Muslim extremists who are uncomfortable with his activities.

In January 2021, Dalyop was listed along with three other Christian rights attorneys for assassination in a warning published on social media.

ECCVN officials pose with watchers wearing windbreakers, holding torchlights donated by ECCVN

Securities did not act on the warning but Dalyop supported by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in Switzerland maintained a strong intelligence network which helped him to be safe.

His colleague, Gyang Zi was however not so lucky. He was abducted in July by Fulani terrorists who told him they were sent to kill him for his advocacy against violent Muslims from their tribe.

He was released after paying N8million (19513.15USD) to “buy back” his life from the terrorists, following an intervention by his Fulani friend whom he credited for providing the fund.

Town leaders speaking to The Light Bearer believe ECCVN’s donations will increase the safety of their people, amid growing attacks. “Whenever are in need, this organization is always there,” said the District Head (position similar to a Mayor) of Riyom through a representative on 17 Nov. “We appreciate what you have done to help protect our people,” said the town leader through a representative.