Jos — The Senator, representing Plateau North, where the recent attacks and killings of over 200 Berom ethnic group were perpetrated by suspected Fulani militias, Jonah David Jang, has described the killings as heinous crime against his people, genocide, and an attempt to forcefully take over and occupy the ancestral land of the Berom nation.
Jang's position was further strengthened by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which also described it as a deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people's ancestral heritage.
Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO) also shared the same view, noting that it had addressed the media over three different occasions where it cried out to the state and federal governments that the Fulani have driven out the Beroms from over 10 of their villages and farms, and are now forcefully occupying them, but nothing has been done.
But the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) differed in its position as it justified the killings as an act of revenge following an earlier attack on its cattle.
In a statement signed by his media officer, Mr. Clinton Garuba, the Senator Jang said he was pained by the gruesome killings of "over 200 people in Gashish District, Razat, Ruku Nyarr, and Gana-Ropp in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State by Fulani herdsmen."
Jang said: "These continuous killings are fast becoming a coordinated attempt at genocide aimed at annihilating our people and stealing our God-given heritage (land). As one who is particular about the welfare and well-being of the people, the senator's heart is with the families of all those who have been deliberately and mercilessly separated from their loved ones for eternity.
"At a time the Government of Plateau State is boasting of creating an island of peace, it is a wonder where that island of peace is located. Surely, our towns and villages around the state where people are attacked and killed in their sleep, on their farms and on rural roads almost on a daily basis are not part of that island. It is quite unfortunate that despite all the valuable lives we continue to lose, the state government led by Governor Simon Lalong is still living in denial. How many Plateau lives must be violently ended before the governor realises that the peace he claimed to have brought on the Plateau is imaginary?"
On the role of the Armed Forces, Jang observes that their mode of operation and response to the attacks is worrisome and capable of causing massive apathy and loss of confidence on the part of citizens.
"They continue to attract controversies and accusations of complicity as clearly noted by notable statesmen like General T.Y Danjuma (rtd). At this juncture, Danjuma's call for self defence may become the only option considering the situation in Barkin-Ladi where people were left at the mercy of killer herdsmen who had the time and space to maim, kill, and destroy to their satisfaction without any notable challenge by the military formation in the state," Jang added.
He urged Lalong to display an uncommon will to stand with Plateau people for the fortification of the state from external aggression and attacks.
"Lalong must also stop playing politics with the security situation of the state, as there is no gain in proclaiming a peace that only exists in dreamland while people are being killed on the Plateau. Accordingly, Lalong should also consider reviving Operation Rainbow by funding and equipping it for intelligence gathering and swift response to incessant attacks on the state," he added.
Meanwhile, CAN in a statement by its state Chairman, Dr. Soja Bewarang, also said: "The killings are becoming no longer herders and farmers clashes again, but deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people's ancestral heritage."
Bewarang added: "Barkin Ladi is under siege with more than 200 innocent precious human lives killed and countless driven out in the rains and left without shelters. CAN is also saddened by the news of attack on CAPRO School of Missions (SOM) in Gana-Ropp by the militias.
"CAN condemns these unholy act of systematic genocide and sees it as a deliberate attempt to destroy the cultural heritage of the Plateau people in particular the most affected areas. CAN calls on the government to use its might to bring these killings to a stop."
While calling on the international community to come to the aid of the Plateau people as the security agency seems to be incapable of contending with the challenges, CAN added that "the soil of Plateau smells with rotten dead bodies as a result of silent killings, as many people are missing."
BECO Publicity Secretary, Gordons, lamented that the Berom had held several press conferences where it alerted the federal and state governments that their villages and farms are being forcefully occupied by the Fulani, having killed and chased away the people, who are now refugees in the state, "but nothing has been done by both the state and federal governments to address the situation."
He reiterated that "Buhari has the power to stop the killings by his kinsmen, if he is willing to do so."
Also, former Governor of the state, Fidelis Tapgun, has condemned the massive killings, calling for caution and restraint.
He expressed surprise at the number of deaths and level of carnage in the recent killing of innocent citizen by people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Tapgun, in a statement he personally signed, described the recurring killing in Plateau state as unacceptable, especially as some semblance of peace has been restored in the state.
Meanwhile, in a state broadcast, Governor Lalong expressed deep condolences with the families that lost their loved ones. He described the resurgence of violence in the state as "a stark reminder of the magnitude of peace and security challenges steering us in the face."
He said his government was conscious of its responsibilities of protecting lives and property, and has always strived to meet them "regardless of the threat we face today, we remain resolute in our commitment to arrest the vicious circle of violence, and lay sustainable foundation for peace."
Meanwhile, the Chairman of MACBAN, Danladi Ciroma, has condemned the attacks, however, said in a statement that the attacks were "retaliatory."
According to him, "These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don't support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on a revenge mission.
"Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks; 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled."
Following the killings, the authorities of the University of Jos have cautioned their students and staff to be watchful. They have also temporarily suspended lectures from June 25 to 28 to observe the situation of security in Jos metropolis that is now very tensed.
A statement by the Principal Assistant Registrar of Information and Publications, Abdullahi Abdullahi, called particularly on students to avoid conflict prone and insecurity areas.
Meanwhile, a violent protest which occurred at Mararaban Jama'a and at Zawan junction last Sunday afternoon in Jos South Local Government Area, before the imposition of the dusk-to-dawn curfew, allegedly claimed nine lives.
Security vans were seen patrolling some streets of Jos, while Air Force helicopters hovers over the city in surveillance.
Meanwhile, current and former Vice Presidents of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are heading to Jos to assess the situation and meet with stakeholders.