Jos: One Feared Dead, Others Injured in Reprisal
Following the murder of three Fulani herdsmen at Tusung Village in Barkin Ladi Local Government area of Plateau State last Saturday, Jos, the state capital, was on Sunday thrown into confusion as some Christians, who were returning from their place of worship along Bauchi road were attacked. Many sustained injuries and one was feared dead.
The corpses of the three Fulani herdsmen killed on Saturday had been buried in a shallow grave in Tusung by people suspected to be Berom youths.Men of the Military Special Task Force (STF) in the state had exhumed the bodies and taken them to the Nigerian Air Force Hospital mortuary in Jos.
The herdsmen’s corpses had been taken from the mortuary yesterday to the Jos Central Mosque for prayers before burial. The display of the bodies at the mosque might have agitated the Muslim youths in the area to begin demonstration.
The youths were said to have barricaded the Bauchi road, Angwa Rukuba and Nasarawa areas of the city, preventing vehicles from passing. In the process, passersby, among who were Christians returning from church services were attacked, with one badly injured in the head and rushed to the hospital.
The ensuing confusion culminated in the residents fleeing the area and leaving the streets desolate.
Reacting to the development, Chairman of Barkin Ladi council, Dr. Fom Dakwat, condemned the killing of the three in his local government and described it as an act of criminality which was untimely considering the effort the state government and the security agencies were making to restore peace.
He said the state government was collaborating with men of the STF to ensure that the perpetrators are fished out.
Also speaking, the Media Coordinator of STF, Lt. Col. Kingsley Umoh, who confirmed the attack on passersby, said the injured people had been taken to the hospital.
He also said three soldiers were wounded, adding that the situation had been brought under control. He appealed to residents not to keep recalling the past incidences, as they were capable of prompting fresh hostilities.Speaking on behalf of the state government, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Greg Yenlong, who also condemned the killing of the herdsmen in strong terms, however expressed worry over the statement credited to Umoh alleging that the Fulani had reported the disappearance of their cattle to the soldiers.
He said government had put appropriate measures in place involving the police, through which such issues could be resolved.
According to him, the soldiers that accompanied the herdsmen in search of their cattle were hired by them and not members of the STF keeping peace in the state.
Yenlong also expressed worry asking the STF brought the bodies of the three Fulani all the way from Tusung, about 100 kilometres away from Jos, where they could have been buried.
He said the confusion in Jos could have been averted if the STF men had taken the bodies to their families for burial there in Tusung.
Umoh had in a press statement said: “On Saturday 22nd May 2010 at about 1pm, three herdsmen complained at a special task force location that their cows, earlier declared missing, had been seen somewhere in Fan district of Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State.
“Based on the complaints, three soldiers were detailed to contact the local chief of the area over the matter. On arrival at Tusung, they were informed that the chief was not around.
“The soldiers and the herdsmen heading back to their location were attacked by mob from Tusung and adjoining villages. The mob numbering about 500 including women and children armed with cutlasses, bows and arrows, spiked clubs, axe, shot guns with two of them welding two AK 47 riffles inflicted serious bodily injuries on the soldiers and abducted the three headsmen”.
He added: “Reinforcement was sent in and later discovered the mutilated bodies of the herdsmen in a shallow grave with their genitals removed at a location of about 500 meters away from the point of abduction. The perpetrators of this crime who are locals fled Tusung and surrounding villages. Efforts are ongoing to trace their ring leaders.”
“The incidence makes it the sixth time military personnel on duty were attacked unprovoked. The task force will like to seize this opportunity to reiterate its warning that no effort will be spared to bring the full weight of the law to bear on any person or group of persons that attack soldiers while on lawful duty”.
The state government had recently lifted the curfew it imposed on residents in Jos. But with the recent development, it is not sure whether or not it will reconsider its decision.