“We slept in maize farms with our children as herdsmen slaughtered our kinsmen, burnt our homes” – S/Kaduna Survivors

Grace escaped with her children after spending a night in maize farms amid persistent rains

When Mrs. Grace Zacharia, a young mother of three returned from the farm on Monday July 27, 2020, trying to prepare dinner for her family, it never seemed like a troubling day.

Goran Gan, her village in Southern Kaduna’s Zango Local Government Area neighbors several villages that had been attacked the previous days. However, the village houses both Christians and Muslims, native farmers and Fulani herders included. Thus, despite prevailing threats in neighbouring communities, Grace was at peace. After all, military Task Force operatives were stationed in the village.

What Grace however did not know was that a young man in the village had been attacked on his way from farm, and left for dead with several machete cuts on his body and head. The herders, Grace said dropped a letter on his supposed dead body, announcing their plans to invade the village.

“Even the soldiers we thought were there had been withdrawn that same day, and all Muslims in the community had vacated. We were told they called a native Muslim in the village and told him to evacuate his family that they were going to wipe Christianity from the village,” said Grace.

At about 6pm, gunshots started rumbling from one end of the village, with smoke and cries of fleeing and/or dying women and children rising by the minute.

“They went from house to house, slashing and breaking locked doors open with bullets and machetes, killing hiding women and children, and burning the houses behind,” recalled Grace.

The assailants had taken advantage of the bush patrol embarked upon by most men in the village on receiving the letter announcing the planned invasion. They operated unchallenged with no immediate security intervention. In less than 30 minutes, the carnage had nearly covered the entire village with at least 16 people killed.

Grace stays with a junior military relation in Jos with her three children, two female cousins and an aunt

Grace and her children ran into nearby maize farms along with other survivors while the attackers, including “known and new faces of herdsmen”, chased after them.

“We heard our neighbor running along with us in the maize farm screaming the name of a Fulani man we know and have stayed with for years. He was even talking in the background while clearly chasing her, that he must kill her but she escaped and we met the next day in a camp in Zonkuwa.

Grace and other survivors ran throughout the night amid persistent rains before getting to Zonkuwa, located several miles away. But even in Zonkuwa, safety was not guaranteed.

“When we went to Zonkuwa, we camped in a school but we heard rumours they were planning to attack us there so we started calling relatives in other States to help.

“After all, the place was crowded with over five people sleeping on a 4ft wide bed. The threat of coronavirus and hunger was enough reason to leave the camp,” said Grace.

She and her cousins, Miss Obida Ibrahim and Sandra, her three children and aunty were later conveyed by relations to Jos, where over 30 other victims of the attacks were taking refuge.

None of the survivors currently with relations in Jos escaped with anything but the clothes they wore before the attacks. Kindly call 08062923239 to reach out.

Five peasant families at risk of hunger as 'herdsmen' mow down multimillion naira farm crops in Plateau

Farm crops destroyed in Sopp village

Central Nigeria: Four farming families in Plateau State might face hunger this year as suspected herdsmen last weekend mowed down crops covering large expanses of land.

About a hectare of already maturing maize farm belonging to a Pastor of the Church of Christ in Nations, Zakka Dalyop was nearly cut to flat by overnight invaders in Sopp village, 20miles Southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

Another family man in the of Riyom Local Government village, Mr. Sunday Goma, over a hectare of maize farm leveled down same night as the Pastor.

Mr. Clement Pam, another family man with three children also lost about a hectare of Guinea corn farm, just as Mr. Dadongs Moses Goma, 51, a married man with two wives and five children, and Mr. Labi Danjuma, 30, with wife and two children lost a hectare of maize and Guinea corn farm each.

Blades used to cut down crops

Pastor Zakka, 40 has a wife and five children, all of whom depend on the farm for food and other household needs, it was learnt.

Sunday Goma, 39, has five children and a wife, but has no income source aside from the destroyed farm.

Sopp village was attacked several times in 2014 with over 20 people killed. The community has yet to recover from the destructions caused by the attacks.

“This is war, a continuation of what they started in 2014,” said Mr. Dadongs Moses. “They have cut down our only income producing crops, ending our hopes for food and money for other household needs,” said Moses.

“We did not particularly see anyone doing it, but we have had several threats from herdsmen,” Moses told MK.

Mr. Dadongs Moses Goma

In his words, “Last few months, my brother, Sunday Goma had a quarrel with some of them and they told him that he should have been grateful they allowed him to harvest his crops last year.

“Earlier in the year as well, we went to till some of our farms that are a bit closer to their hamlets, which they built on forcefully acquired lands and they threatened us into withdrawing.

“Many other acts and utterances from them, coupled with previous farmland destructions here and in surrounding communities wherein herdsmen were caught red handed, have left us with little to believe they are not the ones that did it.

“We have reported these crimes to securities but often times they ask us to produce the suspects instead of them investigating.”

Aside from farming, women in Sopp only hawk firewood to feed

Two weeks ago, over 50 hectares of farm land was destroyed in similar manner in neighbouring Ncha village in Bassa Local Government Area.

Locals in nearby Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGAs have reported same acts with increasing indiscriminate grazing by herders, who often threaten or attack when cautioned.

Law enforcements have hardly arrested suspects of the crimes as Officials often link them to clashes, giving a picture of mutual conflicts which are often hard to prosecute.

Plateau: Armed men ambush Prison Officers, free criminal suspects near trial court

CP Egbuka meets Prison Commandant, Musa at Plateau High Court, Barkin Ladi shortly after ambush

Central Nigeria: Armed men believed to be herdsmen on Thursday attacked a convoy of Prison officials near Plateau High Court, Barkin Ladi, freeing six criminal suspects.

The convoy was conveying 14 suspects charged with different crimes ranging from murder to kidnapping and rape, it was learnt.

On arriving the court premises, the gunmen who had laid ambush by the court entrance opened fire at the convoy, releasing the suspects unchallenged, eyewitnesses say.

None of the four armed prison guards accompanying the convoy returned fire, raising suspicion of culpability.

The Plateau State Custodian of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Mr. S.A. Musa, briefing the State Commissioner of Police, Edward Egbuka at the scene of the incident said the inmates were scheduled to appear in court.

According to him, the Court did not notify him of any change in date.

However, Judiciary sources say the inmates were not billed to appear in court when the Detention Officers brought them, unlocking their handcuffs on arrival.

“We only had four cases today with only one criminal, and the suspect was not among those brought from the Correctional Centre.

“The court since resumption from lockdown has hardly heard five cases a day, let alone ten, to have warranted the deployment of those suspects today,” a court worker said.

The Court has already been reported to the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters, Abuja, and investigations have commenced to track the suspects.

In the meanwhile, Police have arrested four suspects and recovered two motorcycles believed to be belonging to the ambushers during a combing of bushes.

No official comment has however been made on the incident.

Young admission seeker, hospital guard killed in Plateau

Mr. Maren, killed while keeping watch in own village

A boy awaiting university admission, Mr. Maren Ibrahim Mafuyai has been killed in Plateau.

Maren was shot in the leg and chest while keeping vigilance on Monday evening with fellow youths in Fit-ma-Kusho village of Mazat/Marit Ward of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, located 15kms north east of the Plateau State University, Bokkos.

Armed men believed to be herdsmen had invaded the village shooting at random but Maren and his fellow watchmen managed to distract them at the outskirts saving over 500 women and children.

“He was not armed. None of us was,” said an eyewitness on guard with him, Mr. Dadung Bulus Wash, “But we moved together in clusters, crawling in grasses as the attackers opened rapid shots on us,” he said.

Maren’s corpse carried to the grave

The attackers, after trying and failing to take out the ambushers, retreated but took cover in nearby bushes, unknown to the villagers.

When the deceased attempted to change position after about 30mins of ceasefire, a resuming gunfire from the bushes hit him in the leg, exposing his position, it was gathered.

The attackers rushed him with more gunfire, said eyewitnesses and fled soon after, before securities arrived.

“His shouts before giving up made the attackers to flea, afraid that other watchers might pounce on them.

“He gave his life to save the entire village,” said leader of the Community, Mr. Ishaya Musa.

Maren’s mother could not control her tears since news of his death reached her

The attack was not the first in the locality, said a former Councillor, Mr. Tigana Buba.

Weak security presence has made communities in the area more vulnerable, said Buba.

Armed government securities have however not been spared in the attacks.

Two Policemen were shot and their rifles stolen in another attack same night in Barkin Ladi General Hospital, 10kms from Fit-ma-Kusho village.

The Policemen survived with severe gunshots, as a hospital worker, Member Representing Barkin Ladi Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Peter Gyendeng confirms.

A civilian guard in the hospital was however killed, it was gathered.

“This is a challenge that government must admit and rise to face without playing politics,” said the former Councillor of Mazat/Marit Ward, Tigana Buba.

Officials have repeatedly denied the existence of insecurity in the State, a situation observers say is preventing relevant help from reaching the State.

Scores feared killed in overnight attack near Plateau University

Children could have slept in the open cold if they ever escaped the attacks

An unconfirmed number of people were Monday killed in an overnight attack near Plateau State University, Bokkos.

Sources say armed men believed to be herdsmen invaded Fit-Ma-Kusho village in Mazat/Marit Ward of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, at about 10pm, shooting for hours without security intervention.

A panic sounding source in the village who claimed to be in hiding at about midnight said his cousin was killed but was not sure how many more could be affected as shooting was still on.

Officials contacted said they were working to verify information on the attack for onward mobilization of rescue teams.

Plateau farmer killed after pleading for controlled grazing near crops

Cattle found grazing near Mr. Dung's corpse

Gunmen believed to be herdsmen on Friday killed a farmer in Plateau, Mr. Zi Dung Gwom.

Gwom, 51, was shot at about 3pm, in Rasat village of Foron District in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, when he went to plead with herders grazing in near his farm to control their straying cattle, eyewitnesses say.

The prime suspects it was learnt fled on taking out the deceased but an accomplice was arrested along with their herd of cattle.

Police who took custody of the suspect and cattle have yet to issue an official statement.

Plateau locals form independent dialogue teams to end farmer-herder conflicts

Plateau local peace teams formerly launched, Monday

Natives of Plateau State’s Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area have started independent dialogues to end farmer-herder conflicts that have persisted for decades in the area.

The dialogue facilitated by local teams independently established by farmers and herders started off with series of meetings by State authorities to broker peace between the warring communities.

“Worried” by the persistent killings and destructions over land resources in the community, Government facilitated the meetings “to have a structure that is locally put together and driven by people from the affected community to ensure that those issues that drive conflict are resolved,” said Director General, Plateau State Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang.

Mercy Corps, an international nongovernmental organization working with community leaders, women, government officials and state actors to build peace in conflict communities will be training the volunteer peace teams “to improve their ability to peacefully manage disputes and prevent violent extremist recruitment tactics, to strengthen Early Warning and Early Response,” officials say.

Mercy Corps will be training the teams using “interest-based negotiation and mediation,” a model that equips stakeholders with skills to solve conflicts in the interest of affected parties, said Mr. Sani Suleiman, the Deputy Chief of Party, Mercy Corps, Monday.

Local authorities, Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, Prof. Danladi Atu said at the start of the training in Jos, will support the teams to implement peace projects for the greater good of the State.

Officials he said are looking to develop independent peace models but in the meanwhile, stakeholders are free to suggest workable options while being trained in existing international models.

“There is no perfect model. The perfect model is one that works so be free to suggest anything in the course of your training,” Atu said.

The peace committee commissioned with sub-teams already set up to oversee various tasks is leaving nothing to chance in ending conflicts within the locality, its Chairman, Richard Adamson said.

“In the past, our community was recognized and reputed as one of the most peaceful in Nigeria even during precolonial days. But along the line so many things happened and that love and peace was broken. We have recorded so many deaths and destructions and we have vowed that as a committee, this bloodshed must stop,” said Adamson.

Bassa Local Government Area, one of Plateau’s leading farming communities has since September 7, 2017 recorded series of attacks with hundreds of people killed and thousands displaced.

Several peace moves have been made by local and international organizations but the conflicts have persisted.

This being the second committee locally created to solve the conflicts might be the last, if all affected parties are open and sincere in their submissions, observers say.

Jos to have electricity blackout from 9am to 5pm, Saturday

The Jos Electricity Distribution PLC says it will be installing new rector isolator fingers to BUS-BAR on Saturday.

The installation between 9am and 5pm will cause power shutdown in Jos and Bukuru metropolis until completed, Mr. Friday Elijah, Head, Corporate Communications said, Friday in a press statement.

All inconveniences caused by the shutdown are regr

Gov. Lalong to Rev. Pam: "Buhari has confidence in you"

Gov. Lalong attends Rev. Pam's office takeover

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong says Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam’s appointment as Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christians Pilgrims Commission is an opportunity to lead others to God.

“Nigerian Christians are looking up to you to give them the pilgrimage experience that brings them closer to God and boosts their faith,” said Lalong, Tuesday during Pam’s assumption of office in Abuja.

The appointment, Lalong said is a national assignment that requires the ES to be broad-minded, courageous and honest.

Pam was however appointed for his antecedents as “a man of God and committed peace maker”, the Governor said.

“The President has confidence in you, I have confidence in you and the people of Plateau State know your antecedents.

“This is the time for you to show the light in you and make the body of Christ proud. I appeal to you not to discriminate or be selective,” Lalong said.

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle represented by ECWA President Rev. Panya Baba said the appointment of Rev. Pam was “well deserved” as he has a “rich pedigree of promoting the gospel and promoting peaceful coexistence among different people and faiths.”

The Gbong Gwom Jos and Chairman, Plateau State Council of Traditional Rulers Jacob Gyang Buba, said the people of Plateau State and all Christians will support the ES with prayers and counsel to ensure he succeeds.

Rev. Pam said he was humbled by the show of love and encouragement by Nigerians particularly eminent sons and daughters of Plateau since his appointment.

President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Rev Yakubu Pam as the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) last Saturday.

Until his appointment, Rev Pam was the Chairman of the Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Board.

Born on 20th February, 1960 in Gyel, Jos South LGA of Plateau State, Rev Pam holds a first degree in Christian Education.

As an ordained Minister, Rev Pam brings to the position more than 30 years of leadership experience in the Christian community, coupled with a deep understanding of promoting inter-religious harmony and conflict resolution in the northern parts of the country.

The cleric has held many leadership positions in the Church, including Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of Northern Nigeria (which includes the 19 Northern States and Abuja) from 2016 to date, Vice President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, 2013 to date and District Superintendent, Jos mainland Assemblies of Nigeria, 2010 to date.

He also served as Chairman, Plateau State Inter-Religious Council; and Chairman, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Committee, Plateau State.

His appointment took effect from 26th June, 2020 for a period of five years.

Christian NGO gives food, housing aid to attacked Plateau communities

TEARFUND, TEAM officials and traditional leaders in Bassa LGA

Central Nigeria: A Christian nongovernmental organization, The ECWA Aid Ministry (TEAM) has donated food and cash to 90 families affected by herdsmen attacks in Plateau State.

50 households from Nkiedonvrwo, Ancha, Hukke and Mbra-Zongo villages in Bassa Local Government Area received cash support to rebuild their destroyed houses in April and May, 2020, TEAM Coordinator, Mr. Ezekiel Bala said, Thursday.

40 other families got cash support for food, Bala told Village Chiefs in Bassa during an official visit.

The TEARFUND supported NGO, Bala said has previously carried out sensitizations in the LGA on HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, syphilis, maternal and child health, Sex and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), family planning, humanitarian, livelihood support and peace building.

In his words, “Between October, 2014 and March 2020, the following has been achieved: 15, 700 people were reached with HCT services while 3366 people were mobilized for Ante-Natal Care services, 3666 people were screened for Hepatitis and Syphilis. 102 vulnerable mothers were supported with the engagement of 5 clinics and 5 mother buddies were engaged.

“Between March 2019 to March 2020, 4 religious leaders (2 Christians and 2 Muslim) received training on transforming masculinities to conduct diffusion activities.

“Four Christians and four Muslims received training on transforming masculinities to conduct community dialogues.

“2 Family planning service providers received training on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. 40 couples (80 individuals) participated in two community dialogue circles. 7465 people were reached through preaching of sermons and group discussions and 2 joint celebrations were held.”

Most recently, “38 households received COVID-19 kits, 320 women received sanitary hygiene packs. 5 communities benefitted from awareness and sensitization on hygiene practices and COVID-19. 10 community stakeholders received training on sustainable peace in Miango communities and environs,” he added.

TEARFUND, the lead sponsor of the programs is not relenting in promoting peaceful coexistence and societal wellbeing, said the TEARFUND Director in Nigeria, Mr. Paul Mershak through a representative, Mr. Istifanus Gimba.

The international NGO, the official said focuses on humanitarian and developmental activities, and has been working in Bassa LGA precisely in Irigwe communities for years.

The Paramount chief of Bassa, Rev. Ronku Aka appreciated the NGOs for helping his overcome the pains of herdsmen attacks.

“In the aftermath of these attacks, your organization is always the first to come to our aid,” he said.

FG builds schools in Plateau village seized by herders: “This endorses land-grab” cry sacked natives

Ardo Mamuda Primary school built by SDGs Office

Nigeria’s Federal Government has built two ultramodern primary schools furnished with VIP toilets in Rankum, a Plateau native community sacked and taken over by herders, now renamed Mahanga.

Named Ardo Mamuda Primary School after a renowned Fulani leader, the double 12 classroom blocks facilitated by the Sustainable Development Goals program legitimizes land grab, Jol Community Development Association (JCDA) says.

“Carrying out such project by your good offices on land grabbed for the benefit of invaders/aggressors when it’s within public knowledge that over 50 villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State have been sacked through armed invasions and currently occupied by the attackers amounts to condonation, applauding, aiding and abetting crimes against humanity thereby legitimizing aggression in the 21st century which is an outright defiance to relevant statutes that prohibit such conduct,” JCDA said in a petition signed by its Acting Chairman, Mr. Joshua Bashash and 36 others.

The speed at which the construction was done, “without due consultation,” the association said “raises a lot of suspicion that the fact of this development was railroaded to foist a fait accompli on the local community”. 

Signboard at school site in Mahanga
Herders pose by new school
Herders in a classroom in the school

The community is demanding the “reversal” of the projects which are already set for commissioning and return of the community and over 50 others sacked and occupied by herders to the original owners.

It says in the petition against the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on SDGs, served on June 25, 2020, “Since consent of the land owners and local community was not first sought and obtained before siting the project by your good offices, JOCDA demand for reversion of your action so that all the 6 built classrooms block with its furniture as well as the VIP toilets be exclusively allocated to the natives as the entire Rankum (Mahanga) is an area belonging to surviving native inhabitants now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were sacked through violent attacks by Fulani settlers residing thereon, and remorselessly renamed it “Mahanga Village in Riyom LGA”, which is alien to JOCDA. This is the natives-IDPs are in dire need of education since acts of inhumanity visited on innocent them rendered the whole survivors educationally backward.

“Your good offices and other relevant bodies are hereby urged to speedily commence an investigation into this weighty development so that your action and inaction will not project an encouragement to breach of public peace and order. Rather, native inhabitants/IDPs of Rankum should be resettled to their homestead through such intervention and also provision of relief materials and as well as psycho-social supports to alleviate the long traumatic plight of all the affected persons.

“Dislodgement of all Fulani from lands grabbed and/or sacked that have been forcefully occupied, especially Rankum be made a matter of urgent public importance as it will give the disadvantaged persons-IDPs sense of belonging as members of the human family and fulfill the promises and obligation of Government to restore the displaced landowners to their land.

“Your good offices and other relevant agencies should refrain from recognizing “Mahanga Village” other than the original native name “Rankum” of Jol in Riyom LGA. This is because the Rankum (now renamed as “Mahanga” is a hamlet and not a village as forcefully claimed by the Fulani aggressors.”

Military search for ‘missing’ herder causes tension in Jos community

Mild tension has been reported in Dong village of Jos North Local Government Area, Plateau State, following an early morning search for a “missing” herder by Special Military Task Force operatives.

The community, locals say was flooded with armed military personnel as early as 6am, led by neighboring herders.

A young cattle herder was reported missing on Sunday hours after he and few others were escorted out of the community by federal securities while grazing indiscriminately into residential buildings, it was learnt.

Herders from the missing boy’s community came to the Dong community at night and were accompanied on a search operation by local youths, a Community Leader, Daniel Choji said.

The operation was called off after hours without success but resumed Monday morning, led by the army.

The missing boy was later found dead in the bushes and a community stakeholders meeting scheduled for 4pm.

Tension however began to grow when a local farmer was reportedly arrested before the corpse was discovered, bringing back memories of last year’s military excesses causing deaths in Rukuba Road and Angwan Rukuba communities, located few meters away from Dong.

Armed attacks have also occured in the past, in parts of the State after similar incidences of missing herders or cattle.

Plateau Governor gets second test as appointees fall to COVID-19

Governor and family test negative a second time

Officials in Plateau State, Sunday said local testing centers for Covid-19 are being expanded to determine and curb its spread.

Governor Simon Lalong in a press statement by his Director of Press, Simon Macham said so far, 6000 people have been tested with more being screened daily at the National Veterinary Research Institute’s Laboratory in Vom and the TB Reference Laboratory at the Jos University Teaching Hospital.

Efforts he said are also being made to start testing at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital.

Testing in Nigeria is currently restricted to people with symptoms or at risk of COVID-19 by travel history or contact with infected persons.

Lalong however in the statement said everyone should get a test for themselves.

He said, “I have continued to encourage people to subject themselves to Covid-19 test for us to treat it before it gets critical.”

The Governor submitted himself and family for test a second time after his Commissioner and Chief of Staff tested positive for the disease.

The result came out negative, but the Governor insisted Covid-19 is “not a death sentence”.

He advised citizens to always take personal responsibility for their health and of others by adhering to government approved guidelines for the control of the disease.

Plateau: Four days after holding peace meeting in attacked home village, Barkin Ladi LGA Chairman dies

Ezekiel Mandyau

Plateau’s Management Committee Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Ezekiel Mandyau has died of suspected pneumonia.

Mandyau, 52, died at about 6pm in Jos University Teaching Hospital, after showing symptoms of pneumonia and typhoid, family sources say.

Several tests carried out on him since he first complained of strange abdominal pains on Tuesday returned negative, said his elder brother, Dan Mandyau.

Covid-19 test which was among the last to be carried out was yet to be confirmed when he died.

Mandyau had on Sunday convened a peace dialogue meeting between herders and farmers in his home village, Nghar in Gashish District.

The dialogue was to restore relationships severed by violent conflicts resulting in the death of 86 locals on June 23, 2018, Mandyau said.

“Peace is the most significant legacy we can ever give to any community,” said the late Chairman during the meeting on Sunday.

The trained lawyer and renowned human rights activist was appointed to head the over 200,000 populated local government in October 2019, by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong.

He was appointed following security threats hindering Democratic elections in the LGA.

Within his first 30 days in office, Mandyau authorized the auditing of the LGC’s accounts for transparency and accountability, distributed project priority forms to communities, held peace meetings in all the LGA’s districts as well as began talks with private organizations for investment, educational empowerment and job creation.