A senator and the majority leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly died yesterday as they participated in burial of crisis victims, the first time such senior politicians died in the recurrent violence plaguing the state.
But a spokesman for Governor Jonah Jang, Mr. Ayuba Pam, said Dantong and Fulani were shot dead by gunmen while attending the burial of the victims of Saturday's attack in some villages.
Pam said Dantong, Fulani, a member of the House of Representatives for Barkin Ladi/Riyom constituency Simon Mwadkon, and other mourners were by the graveside when shots rang out from all directions.
He said Dantong and Fulani were shot in the commotion, while Mwadkon managed to escape alive.
Pam said it is not true that Dantong died as a result of shock or heart attack, insisting that he was assassinated while attending the burial.
"The killing has added a new frightening dimension to the crisis in parts of the state," Ayuba said, blaming the Federal Government for "not taking adequate measures" to protect the people.
Chairman of the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Dr. Emmanuel Loman, also said Dantong and Fulani were killed.
Customs officer killed in reprisal
There was tension in Jos and Barkin Ladi yesterday following the death of Senator Dantong.
Reports said some major streets in Jos were blocked by youths protesting the deaths of Saturday and yesterday, while there was increased movement of troops in Barkin Ladi.
In response to the mounting tension, the state government announced a night-time curfew in Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas, which have been plagued by communal violence for years.
Later in the evening yesterday, customs officer Abubakar Ibrahim Kankiya and an unconfirmed number of people were reported killed along Heipang-Jos road in apparent reprisals. A relation of the late Kankiya confirmed the killing to Daily Trust.
Senator Dantong, a medical doctor by profession, was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and member of committees on Cooperation and Integration in Africa and NEPAD, Solid Minerals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Born on February 20, 1959, the late Dantong attended LEA Primary School, Bachit; Riyom Commercial Secondary School, Riyom; Government College, Keffi; the University of Jos and the University of Ghana, Legon.
Before he joined politics in 1996, Dantong was the medical director of Vom Christian Hospital between 1988 and 1990 until he moved to Belize City (California) Hospital as Volunteer Medical Doctor.
He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 where he represented Riyom/Barkin Ladi Constituency.
Dantong was first elected into the Senate on the platform of the People's Democratic Party in 2007 and re-elected in 2011, representing Plateau North Senatorial District comprising Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Jos South, Jos East, Jos North and Bassa local government areas of Plateau State.