“How our neighbours celebrated while they burnt our house”


 Last December 2023 when armed men attacked his Dungwel community, in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, Manji Le’an moved from there to stay with his uncle at Mangu town.

Though his house at Dungwel was not burnt, he said he was worried by the threats the attackers pose to the community, hence the need to relocate to a safer place.

Now, the recent attacks in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State have put more burden on him. He said his blood pressure has gone up, having managed to escape unhurt with his uncle as their neighbours set his uncle’s house ablaze.

This is the account of one of the survivors of Wednesday’s attack on Mangu which claimed over 30 lives, with several houses razed.

Le’an said: “I left Dungwel on December 13, last year, to stay with my uncle in his house near EKAN Primary School in Mangu town. I thought I will have peace there but as we speak, we have moved to Angwan Mission to stay with some relatives because my uncle’s house was burnt by his Muslim neighbours, on Wednesday. We managed to escape unhurt but we heard and saw them rejoicing that we had been burnt in the house.

“Three days ago, some Fulani herders attacked some Mwaghavul youths around the Sabon Gari area. The youths in that area protested against the action and were moving towards Ruga, (a Fulani settlement) to iron out the matter.

“Before we knew it, the Muslims settling at Sabon Kaswa (new market) started attacking their Mwaghavul neighbours, asking why the people would go to Ruga.

“The natives asked if they were supporting the actions of the Fulani herders that always attack the people and they said yes. The situation degenerated, leading to the burning of houses and the COCIN Church at Sabon Kaswa.

“The thing was snowballing from one place to the other and it got to our area around EKAN Primary school where our Muslim neighbours also joined in burning houses.

“When the thing started in our area, we locked ourselves in the house because we didn’t think they will want to harm us but surprisingly, we heard our neighbours asking if we were in and when they confirmed it, they started throwing things on the zinc, breaking the windows as the rampaging youths approached.

“When we saw that the house was on fire, we sneaked out through the back door without a pin as the attackers were gathered at the front.

“As we were walking away, we could hear them saying in Hausa language, “mun kona baban dake cikin dakin,” meaning we have burnt Baba inside the house, referring to my uncle. We are still shocked that this could happen and my BP has gone up. We are waiting for the curfew to be lifted, so I can take my uncle to join his son in Jos.”

The violence has been controlled and the curfew enforced at the time of this report. The poor network in the area is limiting communication but some natives say there is rising threat in some communities in Panyam district of Mangu.

‘Fulani herders killed our boys’

Another survivor, Longji Fwangmun from Aloghom 1 community which was among the communities attacked last year, said: “The Fulani herders killed some of our boys who were returning from a mining site.

“Our people came out to confront them but soldiers came and escorted them and their cows to their settlement but within a short time, some IDPs taking refuge in Mangu were passing and they attacked them. They managed to escape and brought the report to us.

“This provoked our people who made efforts to go back to Ruga. My brother and I joined others to go there but the soldiers returned and tried to stop us while the Fulani herders retreated to Derkong, a Muslim community where they hibernate and come out to attack people.

“When some of our boys refused to step back, the soldiers opened fire and a bullet hit and killed my brother, Joel.

“While we were running, I couldn’t return to my village, so I went to my brother’s house at Kwahaslahir where we witnessed a complete destruction of property. The COCIN Church and houses were burnt. Julius clinic was also burnt and we heard patients were there.

‘’I can’t say if the patients were killed but I had to sleep in the bush at night so that I will not be burnt in the house. I managed to dodge the Fulani herders, Muslim youths and soldiers to return to Mangu where I am speaking with you from.

We’ve arrested 9 suspects – Police

Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Zone 4, Ebong Eyibio, through the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Alfred Alabo, said nine suspects had been arrested in connection with the incident.

“I have ordered the deployment of additional Special Intervention Personnel to Mangu LGA to be commanded by the Area Commander, Pankshin, to restore normalcy in that area. The command is grateful to inform you that the situation as at today, is under control and so far, nine suspects have been arrested.

‘’Exhibits recovered from them include dangerous weapons such as machetes, kegs containing petrol, and other items. The area remains highly secured by security forces and strict compliance to the curfew is being complied with.

“We called on the leadership of both faiths to call their followers to order and ensure total compliance with the government-imposed curfew. Both parties have promised to comply in the interest of peace in their communities. So far, over 10 corpses have been recovered from various locations, two injured persons currently receiving treatment at the hospital, one car and 10 houses were burnt down.”

We won’t tolerate further security breaches – Gov Mutfwang

Also, Governor Caleb Mutfwang, denounced the recent security breach that claimed numerous lives in Kwahaslalek community and various parts of Mangu LGA

A statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Gyang Bere, said the governor will not tolerate any further breakdown of law and order in any part of the state and urged security agencies to intensify their efforts to “guarantee absolute peace across the state.”

Bere said: “The governor extends heartfelt condolences to grieving families, affected communities, and those injured in the unfortunate incidents. Governor Mutfwang further conveyed sympathy to the residents of Mangu LGA and other affected communities, and urged them to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious activities for swift intervention.

“However, he implored the communities involved to refrain from taking the law into their hands, and restated the state government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security of all citizens. He acknowledged the crucial role played by security agencies in restoring calm and called for continued collaboration between them and the government to provide maximum protection to all citizens.”

Tension in Kerang as security men kill woman, shoot 3 others

In spite of efforts to contain the insecurity, security men allegedly shot and killed one Rejoice Puttu at Kerang community in Mangu LGA, a sibling and community members confirmed.

The elder brother to the deceased, identified as Clifford, told Vanguard on phone that the sister was killed this afternoon (yesterday) while returning from the farm.

He said: “The military men just shot dead my younger sister, Rejoice Puttu, this afternoon opposite COCIN RCC Kerang. She was coming back from the farm without knowing that military men from the Air Force Base in Kerang came to town in the name of enforcing the curfew.

“They saw some okada men going about their businesses, they started beating and shooting sporadically in the name of scaring people. When my sister heard the gunshots she turned to run but they shot her in the back and she died on the spot. The community boys and some policemen tried to convey her to the Pebang hospital but she had already died.

“My younger brother was macheted by the same military men at Mangu town yesterday when he was making efforts to leave Mangu for Kerang. He was taken to the hospital and he didn’t even know that our sister had been killed until I called to inform him.

‘’My worry now is that we are not able to go pick her corpse to the mortuary and the people at Pebang hospital are calling us to come.

“I am looking for a way of getting a security escort to go there to retrieve her corpse. The world should know that the military is going from house to house hunting people, with cutlasses, I have posted my sister’s corpse on social media for the world to see what the military is doing to my family.”

Another resident, Joshua Plangdi, confirmed he witnessed the situation and added: “Apart from Rejoice who died, three other boys were shot and are now in the hospital. People are just sitting in front of their houses and different sets of security personnel from the Air Force Base and Mangu town are coming in to harass us. It was their bullet that killed Rejoice and injured others.”

NIO calls for restraint over killing of members

Reacting to the present state of affairs in the area yesterday, the Ngwang Ishi O’Tarok, NIO, one of the tribes in Plateau State, called for calm, following the burning of five members of the Tarok family in Mangu, and asking that no one takes the law into one’s hands.

Nangor Ndam, the National Secretary of NIO in a statement, said: “The attention of the NIO leadership has been drawn to various social media platforms about the burning alive of a Tarok family of five in Mangu yesterday, following the unfortunate outbreak of crisis.

“NIO wishes to inform Tarok sons and daughters that the leadership of NIO, led by Amb. Nanpon Sheni, is fully aware of this incident and has been in contact with the security agencies handling the investigations.

‘’The NIO President has also been in touch with his counterpart, the President of the Mwaghavul Development Association, MDA, for a full briefing on the situation in Mangu.

“The leadership of NIO calls on all Tarok sons and daughters to remain calm and law-abiding, while investigations continue. There should be no cause for retaliatory action as security agents are on top of the situation.

‘’NIO assures the Tarok Nation that it shall continue to work to protect them and their interest in full

collaboration with appropriate security agencies.”

We remain neutral-DHQ

Following accusations in a trending video that Wednesday’s attack and killing of over 30 persons in Mangu LGA and burning of houses, despite the curfew in place, was made possible because of collaboration by security agencies, Defence Headquarters, DHQ, yesterday, said the military remains neutral and committed to protecting the lives and property of law-abiding citizens.

A statement by Brigadier Gen Tukur Gusau, Director of Defence Information, denied the allegations made in the video saying “we will deal with anybody found disobeying the law without bias or prejudice.”

While calling on the public to support ongoing military operations aimed at decimating non-state actors operating in these troubled areas of the state”, the defence scribe said: “We will not be distracted by baseless accusations and remain steadfast in our commitment to restoring peace and security.

The statement read: “The attention of the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has been drawn to a malicious video made by the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Mangu Chapter, Reverend Timothy Daluk.

“The video has been circulating in the media, aiming to malign military personnel deployed to address the security challenges in the Mangu general area.

“The video made baseless and untrue accusations, claiming that the military is biased and supports a particular group against others.

“We categorically state that these accusations hold no truth, are malicious and lack any reasonable foundation.

“It is important to recall that on 23 January 2024, there was a breach of security in the Mangu municipal area, resulting in the Government of Plateau state declaring a 24-hour curfew.

“Troops of Operation Safe Haven were reinforced in Mangu to enforce the curfew and bring the situation under control, thereby preventing its spread to other areas.

“The troops have carried out their duties professionally and in accordance with the rules of engagement.

“They have successfully arrested criminals involved in looting and burning of properties, as well as recovered weapons.

“It is deeply disturbing that a religious leader, who is expected to demonstrate high levels of moral judgment and truthfulness, has resorted to spreading falsehoods about the military and its personnel.

“We strongly caution individuals involved in making malicious comments against the military to cease such acts.

“Henceforth, any person found spreading falsehoods will face constitutional redress, regardless of their status in society.”

DHQ to invite CAN chairman accusing military of aiding killings

In the viral video, Daluk said: “I am here to report the situation happening in Mangu Local Government for the whole world to understand. What is happening in Mangu at this particular point in time, the military are the ones sending our people away for the militia to burn their houses.

“At this particular point in time, they have sent every Christian away from the new market, thereby leaving the Muslims to come and burn their houses.”

However, responding following an inquiry, the Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, said: “DHQ is in the process of reaching out to him to come and substantiate the claims. It is not unusual for emotions to cloud people’s judgment when they have been confronted with a very traumatising experience.

“We will get to the bottom of his allegations after we have an audience with him. All the same, the military will continue to discharge its duties professionally and in line with the best international standards.”

Reps Speaker to meet Tinubu, seeks end to Plateau killings

Disturbed by the rising killings, speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Tajudeen Abbas, said it is devastating to read the news about renewed attacks and hostility in communities around Mangu LGA.

He said he would meet with President Bola Tinubu on the matter, adding that the House will take a strong position when it resumes from the Christmas and New Year break next Tuesday.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Musa Abdullahi Krishi, the speaker said “enough is enough” on the Plateau killings.

Speaker Abbas added that on resumption on January 30, 2024, the House will kick-start plans to organise a security submit to find lasting solutions to the security challenges in the North and other parts of the country.

Culled from Vanguard newspaper


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