Herdsmen raid Jos village, kill hundreds
By Ugar Ukandi Odey
Less than two months after hudreds of people lost their lives in two days of ethno-religious crises in Jos, Plateau State, another 500 have been reported killed in a night raid on Dogon Nahowa village, Jos South local government area, yesterday. Another source said over 200 were kiled. Both figures could not be confirmed last night. The villagers said their attackers were Fulani herdsmen who swooped on them while they slept.
Reports from the village said the attack, which lasted all of two hours, began at about midnight, and the victims were completely unprepared for the fury of the marauders. The intense gunfire and wild use of cutlasses and other metallic weapons left little chance for the victims who were hacked down and burnt as they attempted to escape the massacre.
A resident of the village, Peter Jang told Reuters news agency that, “The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and then when people came out they started cutting them with machetes.” As at press time, fear and suspicion has spread throughout the city of Jos, and anxious residents mostly kept to their homes, especially when reports spread that the mood in Mangu Local Government in central Plateau was tense. The attackers were said to have departed the scene of their mayhem unscathed; arriving and departing with such speed that neither the villagers nor the police could mobilise fast enough to stop their escape.
Sad and shocking
Addressing journalists yesterday, the state commissioner for information, Gregory Yenlong, expressed the government’s shock, especially as this last orgy of violence is coming so soon after the last crisis, at a time when the government was still battling the security challenges created by the last breakdown of law and order.
Describing this latest attack as “ethnic cleansing” directed at the Berom people, Mr. Yenlong called for the arrest of Saleh Bayare, a former journalist who is a Fulani from Bassa Local Government Area of the state, and who the commissioner said addressed a press conference in Kaduna last week, and have issued several threats to individuals and groups since the outbreak of the last January crisis.
Mr Yenlong said preliminary reports show that last night’s attack was well coordinated, and the planners were barbaric in the manner in which they orchestrated the killings, which left a disproportionate number of children and women as casualties.
In the village, the dead bodies of women and children littered most of the compounds and many of those rushed to hospitals have been inflicted with machete cuts. Robin Waudo, a Red Cross spokesman, said volunteers were assisting victims. According to him, “We know that early this morning (Sunday) there was some fighting in the south part of the city and it seems like these were reprisal attacks from what happened a few weeks ago. Right now, the fighting has calmed down and the military have been deployed to come and control the situation.”
A call for calm
Meanwhile, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba, described the attack as “heinous.” He said he had received anonymous calls the previous day threatening his person.
The traditional ruler who spoke in Berom during his visit to the village described the massacre as ‘‘inhuman’’ and called on the victims and others not to think of revenge. The police spokesman in Plateau State, Mohammed Lerama who confirmed the attack, said the police was still investigating.
Dogon Nahowa village is near Shen Tim Tim, a community of mostly Hausa speaking people, whose village was destroyed during the last January crisis. Both villages are a few kilometres from Du, the village of Governor Jonah Jang.
Litany of crises
In January, about 326 lives were lost in a similar crisis according data from the Nigerian police. Goodluck Jonathan, as vice president, had deployed troops to intervene in the violence that broke out in Jos North local government after some youth protested the renovation of a building damaged during an earlier crisis in 2009 in which 200 lives were lost.
The National Security Adviser, Abdul Sarki Mukhtar, had announced the troops’ deployment and the directive from Mr Jonathan that the Inspector General of Police and others involved in maintaining the peace move to Jos immediately to assess the situation and report back to him.
Mr. Jonathan later held a meeting with security chiefs who briefed him on the situation before he undertook a one-day working visit to the state capital on January 26 to ascertain the extent of damage from the sectarian crisis. He met with Mr Jang and some senior government officials, and received further briefings on the security situation from the GOC 3 Armoured Division, Saleh Maina, a Major-General, and head of other security agencies.
The panel raised by the Federal Government to probe the last crisis is headed by a former governor of the state, Solomon Lar, and has not completed its assignment when yesterday’s violent attack occurred.