February 4, 2023

Renewed attacks kill 20 in Nigeria’s Plateau State

Police visit scene of attack in Riyom Local Government near Bassa on 24 June 2021

Jos Nigeria (04-04-2022): At least 20 people have been killed in armed attacks on villages in Nigeria’s Plateau State since March 29, The Light Bearer has gathered.

Several people were injured and dozens of houses razed in the attacks in a northwestern Bassa Local Government Area which houses the 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army.

The attacks targeted farmers and previously displaced persons who recently returned home, said Mr. Musa Agah, the lawmaker representing Bassa/Jos North at the Nigerian House of Reps.

In the latest instance, terrorists armed with assault rifles on 2 April opened fire at villagers attending a traditional festival in Chando-Zirechi, a small town located 5miles to the Maxwell Khobe cantonment, the 3rd Army Divisional headquarters in Rukuba, Bassa LGA.

Ten people were killed and 17 others injured according to Mr. Ezekiel Bini, a local youth leader.

The scene of the attack was less than 500 meters to a prominent military checkpoint, said Bini, but the soldiers did not fire a shot to repel the attackers, he said in a phone call to The Light Bearer.

The following morning, two more people were killed in am ambush 50meters to another checkpoint in Ditivi town, located 2miles to Zirechi, said Bini.

“We are beginning to suspect the military in these attacks,” he said. “We are going to file a petition demanding the removal of this GOC [Garrison Officer Commanding the 3rd Army Division – Major General Sallau Ali] from here,” he said.

Ali who doubles as the Commander of Operation Safe Haven – a special military task force operating in Plateau State has been accused of complicity in several previous attacks.

According to Bini, eight others were killed in separate attacks from March 29. “On Monday [29 March], five were killed in Kwall District, on Tuesday [30 March], two were killed in Kpatenvie village near Jebbu Meyango town and on Thursday [31 March], four were killed at a mining site in Meyango,” he said.

The attack of 30 March razed 15 houses according to Mr. Robert Ashi, the President of Irigwe Development Association – a local tribal association.

“About 20 food barns and kitchens were razed down. 10 Water Pump Machines, 1 Peogeot Car and 1 Motorcycle were all burnt down. Uncountable Irish Potatoes Seeds stored for planting were burnt and destroyed,” wrote Ashi in a text message to The Light Bearer.

All the attacks were carried out by “Fulani Militia”, wrote Ashi.

The attacks have terrified the already traumatized villagers who were struggling to resettle after they were displaced by previous attacks in the area, said Agah in a phone call.

“These attacks are heartbreaking especially given that we have made frantic efforts to see that our people return home and continue their farming which is their main source of income,” he said.

More than 24,000 people were reportedly displaced by armed attacks which killed close to 100 people within three days last year.

The IDPs squatting with relatives or taking refuge in camp-like settings in surrounding cities were abandoned by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration which has failed to protect citizens, said Agah.

“If the people will be killed repeatedly and the government will not show concern, it suggests nothing but complicity,” he said.

Police and military authorities have yet to comment on the attacks, but as of the evening of 3 April, tensions were reported around Rafiki, a suburb on the edge of Jos, the capital of Plateau State following reported threats of attack.