Plateau State was on Sunday thrown into mourning with the killing of 86 persons in the attacks on about 11 communities in the Gashish District by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
The Police Command in Plateau State had earlier on Sunday confirmed the attacks, saying it had only recovered 11 corpses from some of the villages. But residents had insisted that about 200 people were killed by the marauding herdsmen.
However, the police later issued a statement that indicated that the death toll in the attack on the communities in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on Saturday night had risen to 86. It added that six people were injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles razed while two motor vehicles were torched.
The spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, in an updated statement issued on Sunday night, said the earlier 11 death toll in the attacks was due to the information at its disposal as of then before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA.
Tyopev had identified the 11 corpses as Dalyop Vanode, Dom Danladi, Bururu Wade, Joju Rala,Titus Danladi, Bitrus Malat, Alu Matir, Noron Monday, Cecilia Yohana, Dam Bulus and Ladi Danladi.
He said, “Sequel to the attack in the Gashish District of Barkin Ladi LGA yesterday (Saturday) June 23, 2018, the Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Jos, Undie Adie, after deploying more personnel in the district sent a search and rescue team from the Command headquarters today (Sunday) for an on-the-spot assessment.
“The team headed by ACP Edeh John of the Department of Operations had also the DPO of the Barkin Ladi Division and a Unit Commander from Mopol 38. After a careful search of the villages attacked in the District, the following were discovered: 86 persons altogether were killed, six people injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles and two motor vehicles also burnt.
“The team also carried out a detailed deployment. Corpses were released to the families for burial. The command earlier in the day confirmed only 11 people dead as the result of the attacks due to the information at its disposal before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA. This is to update members of the public of the situation as regards the attacks in the Gashish District as promised earlier on.”
Also, there were fears that some soldiers were missing during the attack but the Commander of the Special Military Task Force codenamed Operation Safe Haven, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, dismissed the report. He said, “it’s not true, no soldier died and no soldier is missing.”
While the Peoples Democratic Party and the Christian Association of Nigeria, called on the global community to rescue Plateau State from the attacks, the Plateau State Government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos South LGAs.
The decision, according to the government, is to avert the breakdown of law and order.
A statement issued on Sunday by the Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature, said movement would be restricted from 6 pm to 6 am, except those on essential duties.
“The soil of Plateau smells with rotten dead bodies as a result of silent killings and many people are missing,” CAN stated.
The attack was said to have been launched at Xland. Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nghar, Kura Falls and Kakuruk all in Gashish District were completely sacked by the assailants.
Other areas affected by the attacks included Rakok, Kok and Razat in the Ropp District.
The Chairman, Public Accounts and Petition Committee in the Plateau State House of Assembly representing the Barkin Ladi constituency, Peter Gyendeng , in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday said the attacks were a declaration of war on his constituency.
He claimed that mercenaries were hired to kill people in the Barkin Ladi LGA.
Gyendeng said, “As a matter of fact, the casualty rate is in hundreds; it is more than 100. In one place, it is above 51, in another, over 32 and yet in another area, it is same. For now, based on what we have on the ground and the corpses that we have been receiving, it is probably over 200 casualties.
“Altogether, about 11 villages were attacked and our people are there now trying to ascertain the number of deaths. The casualty rate is above 200 and counting (of the corpses) is still going on.
“This is war; it is a declaration of war on my people. War has been declared on the Barkin Ladi LGA completely. There are mercenaries that have been hired to come and kill people in the Barkin Ladi LGA. The killing started around 11pm last (Saturday) night till this (Sunday) morning. And the killing still continues.”
Reacting to the killings, the PDP described Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State as an “absentee governor, who had been out of the state for the past three weeks.
The party called on the international community to “come to the aid of Plateau people as apart from the over 130 people killed, many are missing.”
The PDP in a statement by its Publicity Secretary in Plateau State, John Akans, described the attacks as genocide.
He said, “We received with rude shock the level of genocide going on now in the Gashish District, Razat, Ruku Nyarr and Gana-Ropp, all in the Barkin Ladi LGA. We also note with great pains the dastardly attacks ongoing in many other LGAs in the state by the Fulani militias.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, the level of continuous genocidal attacks on Plateau people. At the moment, Barkin Ladi is under siege by the marauders with over 130 people feared to have been killed. As of the time of issuing this statement, CAPRO School of Missions-SOM in Gana-Ropp is under heavy attack by the militia.
“…We call on the international community to come to the aid of Plateau people as beside the over 130 people killed, many are missing. While we mourn our people, we are calling on this failed, incompetent and ineffective APC government at all levels to, for once, be sensitive by discharging its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties of its citizens.
“While killings are going on, the President (Muhammadu Buhari) is busy telling members of the international community that Nigeria is safe for investment and tourism.
“While the Federal Government is planning to pump hundreds of billions of naira into the construction of cattle ranches in states, killings are ongoing in states that have not put in place any ban on open grazing.”
But the Plateau State Government commiserated with citizens especially, Xland, Gindin Akwati communities of the Barkin Ladi LGA, saying it held every single life as sacred.
The government requested citizens to use the “early warning system” mechanism recently launched by Operation Rainbow on 30812 for SMS and 09060100010 for voice calls.
A statement by the Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yakubu Dati, said the government was deeply pained that despite concerted efforts which had led to the restoration of relative peace in the state, “some unpatriotic elements are bent on disrupting the gains so far made.”
He said, “The government condemns these attacks and has mobilised the full compliments of security forces and they are restoring normalcy in the affected areas and the environs. Furthermore, the government holds every single life as sacred hence has mobilised medical and relief agencies to ameliorate the suffering of those in distress.
“As a government, we are committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment that will guarantee peaceful coexistence among the various groups in the state as we remain resolute to the well being of our people.”