Plateau killings in recent months have become a matter of concern among Nigerians. The development has raised concern over the sanctity of human lives.
Residents on the Plateau, especially women and children, have become victims of mass killings arising from an ongoing battle between the natives and the Fulani herders for the soul of the state.
As several people were being buried en masse, Plateau indigenous tribes have known no peace since the outbreak of the Jos uprising on September 7, 2001 when the Fulani herders were dragged into a fight that was between Jos natives and Hausa-settlers in their midst over political appointment in Jos North.
The 2001 September 7 outbreak of hostilities in Jos left hundreds of surrounding communities dead, with properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
The bloodletting has continued till date despite several commissions of inquiries and judicial panels that were set up by present and past governments in the state as well as Federal Government interventions that could not yield fruit.
The bloody attacks have led to thousands deserting their homes in fear of their lives. They cannot go to the farms. They do not sleep with two eyes closed as they are in constant fear of the unknown.
The path to peace on the Plateau is full of challenges since 2001 to date, particularly in the area of security, as sporadic attacks on local communities have become so frequent in local government areas.
Some of the local government areas under constant attacks include Barkinladi, Bassa, Jos South and Riyom and now Jos North all in Northern Senatorial District of the state.
Not left out in fight are Bokkos and Mangu LGAs of Central Senatorial District and Langtang North and South LGAs of Southern Senatorial District.
The attacks by the suspected Fulani herders and counter attacks by the natives of Plateau have led to unprecedented deaths and displacement of people, destruction of houses, crops and livestock.
These have led to severe humanitarian problem in the state as peace has continued to elude the state.
Director General, Plateau Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang, in his discussion on the roadmap to peace on the Plateau, admitted that between 2001 and 2015, the attacks have consumed over 7,000 lives.
According to him, “several studies indicate increased level of fear, anxiety, depression, mutual suspicion, intolerance among those who have witnessed or were directly affected by the violence and terrorist attacks in the past.”
Lengmang noted that despite modest peace that Lalong administration has made on the Plateau, tension between Fulani herdsmen and sedentary farmers over grazing fields and water constitute a major cause of the conflicts.
Sunday Independent findings in Jos city reveal a lot of mistrust between the Plateau natives and Fulani settlers which grows by the day. Neighborhoods are segregated along ethnic and religious lines, a development which has reinforced the existing mutual suspicion and distrust.
Presently, internally displaced persons of Irigwe chiefdom in Bassa LGA are living in refugee camps within their homeland as they have become homeless after their houses were burnt down by rampaging herders.
Such is also the case of Berom natives of Barkinladi and Riyom local areas of the state with no hope of returning to their houses that have been taken over by the attackers.
Tired of the situation, members of the Plateau House of Assembly were left with no option, resolved to go into trenches. They have already given a two-week ultimatum to Governor Simon Lalong to address the House resolutions on the security challenges.
The Plateau Assembly House Committee Chairman on Information, Hon Phillip Dasun, disclosed the resolution to newsmen at NUJ Press Centre, Jos.
According to him, after the two weeks, if Lalong fails to address their resolutions, the state lawmakers will decide the next line of action against the governor.
He said time has come for the citizens to practically stand up and defend themselves and their communities, as the conventional security apparatus is no longer guaranteeing them safety as a people.
Dasun said: “On behalf of the Plateau State House of Assembly, I wish to sympathise with the government and people of Plateau State on the barbaric and dastardly killings that have been taking place in different communities of Bassa, Barkinladi, Bokkos, Jos North, Jos South, Mangu, Riyom, University of Jos community and recently, Yelwa Zangam.
The House, he said, condemned these killings in totality, describing the development as unacceptable and condemnable, even as he commiserated with the families that lost their love ones during the attacks.
He commended the youths of his state for sustained coordinated and organised campaigns against the killings as well the courage to make it go viral by sending strong messages to the world through the social media and the streets of Jos.
Dasun said: We greatly appreciate that action and as an Assembly with people at heart, we call on Plateau citizens to have confidence in us with renewed commitment as we have given two weeks to the governor to take action on the resolutions the House has forwarded on security matters and how to restore peace in the land.”
He call on Lalong to come up with a statement defending the opeple and to bring back renewed commitment to the cause of Plateau.
“We are still expecting with high hopes, the President to also come up with a statement about the killings in Yelwa Zangam just as he did in the killings of travellers along Rukuba Road and to also indicate a sign of justice or else, we will see him as being reflective about the conflict in Plateau.
“We stand with Plateau people in this trying moment and assure them of our genuine commitment to the course of Plateau State.”
He called on the traditional rulers in the state to look inward and release the local security design to protect Plateau people as well as reinforce the vigilante, hunters and local wise men to assist in this regard, while he expressed the need for the people to defend themselves.
The House of Assembly has directed all local government chairmen to suspend planned recruitment of ad hoc staff and instead engage 200 vigilantes in each council to boost and argument local intelligence gathering.
This is as security agencies were urged to fish out the perpetrators of the mayhem and punish them according to the law.
As tension continues to mount, the last is yet to be heard over the fight between Fulani herders and the host communities on the Plateau. (Independent)