#JeSuisMildredBako #StandWithMildredBako #IRefuseToBeSilentAboutPlateauKillings
Killings on the Plateau have become so frequent, they seem normal to the psyche of the average Plateau citizen. In fact it rarely elicits shock, sombre reflection or condemnation. Plateau people have almost accepted the fact that people in villages in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Jos South etc do not have a right to life and can be hunted and hacked to death like antelopes without consequence.
A news caption like “20 people killed in Vat village of Barkin Ladi” rarely draws any emotion from our citizens. We have become so accustom to hearing about the killings that it almost sounds like a tale told of how Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal demolished an opponent.
This week, I was speaking to a politician in Jos and he said, “the killings have become so common and frequent that we almost expect them to happen every week, a bit like the certainty of going to church every sunday”. Speaking further, he said “People’s conscience have gradually been numbed and eroded by the frequency of these killings, that they have lost all sensitivity to the sacredness of life.
This is truly unfortunate! And I must say, my heart bleeds when I think about what Plateau will look like in 20 or 30 years years time, when this strategy of decimation and guerrilla warfare which is currently being deployed is fully implemented. We are gradually drifting into a state of anarchy without even knowing. Our people are being decimated, women raped, children made orphans and fertile lands being taken, yet we hide in the comfort of our living rooms or behind our ipads/phones/computers, typing and arguing about tribal differences and political ideologies.
Gradually, these marauders are achieving their objective – inch by inch, they are dislodging Plateau natives from their lands, day by day they are instilling morbid fear and trauma into the psyche of those who were lucky to escape – how then can these traumatised and psychologically conquered people even stand and defend their lands? Suffice it to say that, the ordinary Plateau man is already imbibing a defeatist mentality, treating the entire problem as “ai bai shafe ni ba”, ya dame su yan Berom ne a chan”.
And so I quote, the famous words of Martin Niemoller, the outspoken protestant pastor, during the extermination of Jews in Germany (the holocoast) between 1941 – 1945, he said:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The defeaning silence of complicity by Plateau citizens is unforgivable. Our silence makes us as culpable and as guilty as the marauders who continue to decimate these innocent people. How can this continue unabated? How can our children continue to be made orphans, our wives widows and yet we pretend not to see? How insensitive!
To actually understand what is happening in the Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South axis, one needs to consider the attacks of the last few years to actually understand the strategy being deployed by these marauders. The militia have selected key areas within the middle-belt from Plateau, Benue, Southern Kaduna and Taraba and have elected to exterminate and displace the natives in these areas, as a means of taking over the lands. The strategy being used is that of guerrilla warfare, villages are clandestinely attacked and the entire generations wiped out in a bid to take control of the area. In fact some of these villages have been attacked more than 10 times in the past few years e.g., Shonong, Vat, Jol, Sho, Ganawuri, Atakar, Rim, Hoss etc.
The fact that villages can be attacked repeatedly, over and over again – shows the brazenness and confidence with which these attackers operate. They know that the military cannot stop them and as such can decide to launch attacks if and when they decide. Natives in these areas are therefore powerless and no more than antelope or buffalo which can be hunted down and killed mercilessly.
ViewPointNigeria’s investigation found that approx. 11 villages and settlements which existed prior to 2008 have all but vanished now. These small villages, mainly in Barkin Ladi and Riyom used to have a combined total of approx. 27,000 people – yet now, no one lives there any more. A large number of the population were killed in the incessant attacks, but the bulk of them fled the areas for safer havens in Kassa, Heipang, Foron, Barkin Ladi township, Kuru, Bukuru etc.
In fact, even large villages like Shonong (which was attacked over 10 times) has witnessed a massive drop in population. Now approximately 15% of the people living in the village have left, in favour of safer havens in Riyom Township. Sho, Jol, Vat and others have witness similar exodus.
That said, the situation is not only unique to Plateau alone. Benue state, Southern Kaduna, Nasarawa and Taraba states have witnessed similar attacks. The same strategy of decimation and extermination is being applied across the middle belt. Fulani marauders have crafted and are implementing a strategy for the total dislodgement of small middle belt tribes from their enclaves. The reason for this is multi-faceted, but principal to this is that of resource control. The northern parts of Nigeria where these herdsmen reside is being increasingly desertified and as such they keep looking for fertile lands. And since most of the middle belt has these lands, conflict is inevitable. That said, we must be careful not to trivialise the problem to just this singular factor.
To illustrate my point and to prick your consciousness, I have decided to profile some of the killings in the last few weeks in Plateau.
– 2nd May 2015: Twenty Seven (27) people killed as herdsmen attack a COCIN church in Forom. The reverend of the church, Rev. Luka Gwom and a lady who got married in the same building two weeks prior (Pauline) also killed.
– 4th May 2015: Thirty (30) people killed in early Sunday attack on two villages in Barkin Ladi. 17 Killed Vat village and 13 in Zakupang
– 6th May 2015: Two (2) people killed in Kakpwis village in late night attack. Deceased identified as Bot Joshua and Emmanuel Joshua.
– 9th May 2015: Two (2) people killed in Bangai village of Barkin Ladi LGA.
– 20th May 2015: Twenty Two (22) people killed near Kurra in Barkin Ladi LGA.
– 29th May 2015: Over 500 gunmen attack Shonong village. 250 houses burnt and over 1000 people displaced.
– 10th June 2015: Attack on 9 villages in Barkin Ladi leaves 20 people dead.
– 11th June 2015: Attack on Rakung Village leaves 4 dead. Deceased identified as Pam Babel, Salome Pam, Luka Gyang and Joy Toma.
Note: these are only the killings in Barkin Ladi and RIyom the last few weeks. If I am to profile those of the year – it would take up the entire space in this article.
Now consider some of the attacks happening simultaneously in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba states
– 15th May 2015: Eighty (80) people killed by herdsmen in Egba village of Agatu LGA of Benue state.
– 19th May 2015: Hundred (100) people killed as herdsmen attack refugee camps in Ukura, Gafa, Per, Tse-Gusa villages of Benue state.
– 19th April 2015: Seven (7) Killed by herdsmen in Sabon Gida Shagogo in Donga LGA of Taraba state.
– 4th May 2015: Six (6) Soldiers killed by herdsmen in Amar Kambari village in Karim-Lamido LGA.
– 26th Apr 2015: Thirty (30) killed by Fulani herdsmen in Keana LGA of Nasarawa state
– 27 May 2015: Twenty one (21) people killed in Keana Nassarawa state.
Hopefully, the points described above have helped you (the reader, see the big picture in these attacks and disabused your mind from looking at them as single/small/isolated happenings which are only unique to Barkin Ladi or Riyom.
And so, I take time to salute people who have raised their voice to the killings on the Plateau. Notably, members of Plateau One Voice under the stewardship of Chris Daes, Mildred Bako, Daniel Meshak, Luka Dalok, William Gyang, Blunt Morgan, Sandra Yilgwan and raft other individuals.
#JeSuisMildredBako #StandWithMildredBako #IRefuseToBeSilentAboutPlateauKillings
I leave you with pictures from the recent killings in Vat and Rakung villages of Barkin Ladi.
By Dr. Chinan Mclean
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