The Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN), the umbrella body of all the 56 autochthones of Plateau once again wish to reiterate its condemnation in strongest terms of the attacks on law abiding citizens by any group of persons by whatever name and reasons because life is sacrosanct and God’s gift to human. Our Press statement of 15th August 2021 did convey our feelings and position on the unfortunate Rukuba Road incident of August 14, 2021.
We wish to join others in consoling the Anaguta Nation on the killings at Yelwa Zangam and pray that God almighty grants them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. We equally wish to appreciate the Plateau State Governor’s new approach to handling the crisis by visiting such communities and a promise to settle the medical bills of the survivors.
Wee hope this will be complimented by compensation to remaining members of the families of those who lost their lives and equally sustain the practice since the killings have persisted. We note in particular, the following:
PIDAN is very worried that killings in Yelwa Zangam took placed during the curfew hours and wondered about the effectiveness of the security architecture in safe-guarding communities and wish to again call on both the Federal and the State Government to further strengthen the security arrangement and forestall further waste of lives of innocent citizens.
PIDAN is equally greatly concern about the misconception, perception and misinformation of the general public by different interest groups within and outside Plateau on the on-going killings in the State especially following the aftermath of the August 14 killing event at Rukuba Road. We felt there is need to provide quality information to the public and the Government with the hope that it keeps the public better informed and enable the Government and its security agencies address some immediate and remote causes of the killings in the State. First, Rukuba Road is the road that connects Jos-North LGA with the Maxwell Korbe Cantonment which houses the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigeria Army in Rukuba land in Bassa LGA. It is only a fraction of the road that is in Rukuba land. The August 14 incidents occurred in the Jos-North part of the road and not in Rukuba land as insinuated by some publications in the media.
The month of August 2021 has undoubtedly, been an unusually unique moment for indigenes, residents and observers of the over a decade long organized and coordinated program of genocide on autochthonous communities of Plateau State, by Fulani Killer Herdsmen and militia. For those ignorant of the daily guerrilla-styled killings presently going on in Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs partly captured in the PIDAN Council’s Communiques of 20 March and 3rd July 2021; and sadly, the systematic cleansing of an entire community of Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa LGA and the Anaguta Chiefdom in Jos-North LGA, it must have been a huge devastation and shock. These unfortunate developments have ultimately shown that indeed the peace in the State has consistently remain very fragile and should be propped up at all times. PIDAN wishes to, once more, place on record its sincere condolences to all victims of the continuous genocide and other related acts, including those who lost their loved ones in the aftermath of the unfortunate events of Saturday, August 14, 2021.
Our hearts are with our people living in an unfortunate inhuman condition of abject destitution, having been forcefully uprooted from their ancestral lands and homes, by Fulani Killer Herdsmen and Fulani militia, who now illegally occupy such communities. What else can we say to those whose crops on farms, nearing harvest, have been wickedly destroyed, in many communities of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa, Bokkos, Mangu, Jos East Council Areas and elsewhere in the State. We are justifiably worried and sufficiently disturbed by the lingering prospects of a bleak or even no harvest ahead and its attendant ravaging starvation that stares our people in the face.
Remote factors to the hatred and killings
Plateau has, at best, had a hostile and unfriendly relationship with the Muslims North characterized by an unrelenting culture of deception and manipulation, from time immemorial. The 1804 Jihad of Uthman Dan Fodio in Sokoto and its subsequent spread, like a winter wild fire, across the northern part of Nigeria, met a decisive waterloo in Jos, at the famous Naraguta war of 1873, as the present autochthonous ethnic groups of the Jos Plateau inflicted a crushing defeat on the Jihadists. Since then, the relationship between the northern oligarchy and Plateau autochthones has never been cordial. Over the years, technocrats of Hausa-Fulani extraction are known to have taken undue advantage of their positions in the Federal Government, to advance the scope and entrenched communal mistrust, suspicion and hostilities, between their settler kith’s and kins in Jos and the indigenes also known as autochthones.
The flagrant abuse of the Federal Character principle culminating in the appointment of one Muktar Mohammed in June 2001, a native of Borno State, to head the Poverty Alleviation Program in Jos-North Local Government, the appointment of one Sanusi Mato, a Katsina indigene, as Sole Administrator of the same Jos Local Government, in April 1994 by the Mohammed Maina’s administration as vividly captured in the Fibiresima Commission report, 1994 heralded the outbreaks of violence and killings in on the Plateau. These few examples have deliberately not captured the generous patronage extended to residents of Jos, of Hausa-Fulani extraction, by their kith and kins in the Federal Government, in terms of lucrative job offers and contract placements, as well as the frustration meted out to Plateau indigenes in the Federal Service, by the same group.
Plateau has become a home to all ethnic nationalities across Nigeria on account of our receptive and accommodative character. To date, it is on record that none of the non-indigenes who have had to suffer losses in lives and properties in Jos during crises, did so in the hands of the autochthones. We state with every sense of pride that at the outbreak of hostilities in 1966, preparatory to the outbreak of the civil war, many fleeing Igbos in Jos handed over their landed properties to indigenes, while some did same to their Hausa-Fulani friends. At the end of the war, most of those who entrusted their properties to indigenes, got them back, some with the rents collected during the war period. Let the Igbos tell the World how many of them got back their landed properties, especially those along Bauchi road Jos or even in other parts of their neighbouring South-South states.
Perhaps going back history, the Hausa-Fulani were not the first non-indigenous ethnic nationality to step into the Plateau. In 1902, Col. H. W. Laws, a mining Engineer, was sent into the Jos Plateau by the Royal Niger Company, to further explore the possibilities of commercial mining in the Jos Plateau sub region. He came along with porters, made up primarily of Niger Delta indigenes and a detachment of soldiers, of Yoruba extraction. This explains the very strong affiliation between the people of Jos and these non-indigenous nationalities. It was after the colonial conquest of the indigenous ethnic groups and the restoration of pax Britanica, and with the development of the tin mining industry, that the Hausa mining labourers started coming into the Jos mines region. Surprisingly, it is the latter group that has constituted itself into the veritable agent provocateur by turning Jos and Plateau State in general, into a killing field today. This is because the Hausa-Fulani seem to have vowed to make Jos and indeed, the entire State ungovernable, unless they are accorded the status of indigenes and subsequently made to install an Emir in Jos.
Contemporary trends of insecurity and the evolution of terrorism in the State
Prior to the bloody riot of the 7th September, 2001, all the demonstrations that took place in Jos were limited largely to the city and usually nipped within a day.
Also worth noting is the low casualty, involving injuries with no loss of lives, due largely to the use of crude instruments as sticks, cutlasses and cudgels. All this however, changed completely in 2001, as the cause of this outing was fierce and religious, involving the use of very sophisticated and deadly weapons by the aggressors from 7-13th September leaving approximately 1000 deaths and displacing at least 50,000 civilians as captured by the Human Rights Watch report 2001. The November 2008 outing following the Local Government election however, remains the baseline in lethality, viciousness and large-scale devastation, and, indeed, a prelude to what was to come. This was not a demonstration but a well-planned and strategically implemented warfare, in contrast to previous episodes and claimed over 700 lives as captured in Human Rights Watch report 2009.
Another important aspect of the 2008 killings was the direct involvement of the then Chief of Army Staff, in what looked like monitoring of the security agencies, but essentially it was not. With then AIG in charge of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa states, having relocated to Jos from his Makurdi base, and his state Police Commissioner firmly on ground, complimented by the GOC, 3rd Armoured Division, Rukuba, all on top of the situation, observers were of the opinion, the presence of the Army Chief in Jos, was unnecessary.
Interestingly, while in Jos for about six days, the Army Chief did not pay courtesy calls on the Governor, the Gbong Gwom Jos and CAN leadership, a major victim of the killings, in both human and material losses. Instead, the COAS roamed about Hausa dominated wards of Jos and the Central Mosque. After putting in place the structure and personnel of the Special Military Task Force (STF), now Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), to handle the security issues of Plateau, he left. Not long after a new wave of very deadly terrorist attacks were launched centering on villages of Barkin Ladi LGA and later Riyom LGAs.
Starting from Demburuk (Dogo Na Hauwa) in 2010, village after village systematically, came under deadly dawn attacks, killing every human in sight as well as destroying residential buildings. The gory orgy was virtually a daily affair and most times, with the STF men sitting aloof and watching. A new dimension was added to the killings, which was in the immediate take-over and occupation of the overran villages, by the very same killers. While the spate of killings in Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs were coming down, with the coming in of the present government, Bokkos and Bassa LGAs were rising up. A first class traditional ruler of Bokkos, Saf Ron Kulere, Sir Lazarus Agai was murdered by suspected Fulani Killer Herdsmen on the 18th July 2016. Today Irigwe and Anaguta lands are at the epic-centre of the storm, experiencing, similar devastations visited on Berom villages and Ron Kulere Chiefdom of Bokkos, in the manner of massive killings and destruction of dwelling places. The devastation in Riyom saw the complete evacuation of Attakar nation from Ganawuri Chiefdom into Kaduna State.
Genocide in the face of official manipulation and deception
We wish to state without any equivocation, that in the face of the massive killings and destruction of the livelihood of our people, the OPSH has been of very little help in most cases. It has been a case of total abandonment of our people at the mercy of a deadly gang of foreign and local Fulani militia. It is most disheartening to note that what is gradually and steadily consuming the whole of Plateau State has been whimsically reduced into a deceptive gimmick of farmers-herders clashes, by the Government and is being bandied out line, hook and sinker, by the mainstream media.
We are very much aware of the spirited efforts by some of our Federal Legislators to draw national attention to the plight of our people, but has not yielded much result. Support from Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Presidential Initiatives on the victims of Insurgency and Plateau genocide has not been impressive. Admitting that an act of criminality has occurred, each time our villagers are attacked, killed and rendered homeless, has veritably assumed an uphill task, for government both at Federal and State levels to assist. Thus, the victims of Fulani terror attacks in Plateau State are largely, at the mercy of relations, well-meaning individuals, community help groups and God.
We recall that prominent Church leaders, on the Plateau had cause to passionately call on President, Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently and honestly step in and halt the human carnage in the State. This was in reaction to the heartless, mind bogging and horrendous butchering of over 200 persons as captured in the Amnesty International Press Release of 28 June 2018 following a three-day invasion by suspected Fulani Killer Herdsmen on Gashish and Ropp Districts of Barkin Ladi LGA, Shonong, Rim and Jol villages of Riyom LGA and villages in Jos-South and Mangu LGAs, between June 22 to 24, 2018. On behalf of Heads of Christian Denominations in the State, the then State CAN Chairman, Rev. Dr Soja Bewarang, urged the President to, “avoid a state of complete anarchy, where the people are forced to defend themselves.” The Church heads rejected the worn out narrative of farmers-herders clashes, noting with utmost disappointment that, ‘the FG has been so immersed in this false propaganda and deceit while forcefully pushing the policy idea of establishing cattle ranches/colonies on the ancestral farmlands of the attacked communities, for the Fulani herdsmen as the only solution to the problem”. The statement concluded that there was nothing like farmers-herders clashes, ‘when one group is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, destroying and the other group is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed’. Sadly, their appeal fell on deaf ears. For a leader with a clean conscience and listening ears, this was Plateau State speaking. Ignoring or turning a deaf ear to this Godly admonition amounts to what is the position of things today in our State. It appears from all indications that Mr President is prepared to hang on to his decision of not listening to the yearning of the Plateau autochthones, irrespective of the costs, in human lives, properties and the survival of the country. This is sad and unfortunate.
The event of August 14, 2021, characterized by the killing of alleged ‘innocent’ travellers of Ondo State origin, from an acclaimed religious function in Bauchi, on their way back to their State created a situation that further revealed the mindset of northern interest groups, its oligarchy and how the security apparatus has been re-organised against the Plateau autochthones. Ordinarily, we would have been constrained at this juncture, from making any further comments on this matter, on the presumption that the security was on top of the matter, diligently investigating the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of the event. usually after days or weeks of painstaking investigations, the Police would come up with what should be reliable, authentic and convincing statement. Unfortunately, the Plateau State Police Command shot itself on the foot and in the process, presented itself as an interested party rather than a neutral investigator, in the matter.
Less than five hours of the incident the Force in a vile, biased, tendentious and highly incriminating statement by its Public Relations Officer, Mr Ubah Gabriel Ogaba, which categorically singled out ‘Irigwe Youths and their mourners’ as the killers of the Ondo travellers. Immediately, the Police statement became public, anti-Plateau media outfits and traditional Plateau haters went wild in unguarded sensationalism. The public space has since become inundated and over saturated, with all manner of threats, abuses and curses on Plateau and its autochthones. Notable clerics such as Alkali Abubakar in his media release even had the audacity to call us ‘Arna Plateau’.
Wee wish to summarily note however, as follows:
First, it appears the State Police Commissioner, has transformed the State Police Command, into a world class effective machinery in investigative excellence. For the ability to identify and profile the killers of the Ondo State travellers, at Rukuba road, in less than five hours, is no mean achievement. We are however, worried that the killings of equally innocent Irigwe natives preceded the Rukuba road event from July 23 to August 2, 2021, and also the 5 persons killed in Tafi-Gana on the 16 August 2021; and the Yelwa Zangam killings of 33 Anaguta persons in Jos-North have not received similar attention. Should we then assume that the lives of these people were not innocent enough to attract the professional attention of the Plateau State Police Command to deploy their investigative excellence to identify and equally profile the ethnic background of their killers?.
Immediately the Rukuba road event occurred, arrests were made, (though very much aware that most of the suspects hurriedly arrested knew nothing on the event). That arrests were made at all indicates that the security community in Plateau is living up to its bidding. We are however shocked that days after the killing of the ‘innocent’ Ondo travellers, reprisal killings occurred in Tafi-Gana in Bassa and some University of Jos students, yet no arrests have been made of the killers. Is the professional efficiency of the security agencies in detection, arrest and ethnic profiling of killers, effective only when Fulani Muslims are killed?
Between January and August 2021, over 50 people were killed in Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South LGAs. Our Communique of 3rd July 2021 listed the names of 34 persons killed by Fulani Killer Herdsmen. Were these victims not innocent enough to be honoured in death with a profile of their killers?
Irigwe villages were under sustained attack, by Fulani terrorists, for a week, with no intervention from the OPSH, Police and the 3rd Armoured Division Barracks, a stone-throw from the villages. Much shocking, when the military men finally arrived the scenes of attack, they only stood and watched, claiming they had no orders to intervene. One wonders, the function of the OPSH in Plateau, if its operatives would have to wait for authorization to intervene, in cases of extreme threat to life and property.
On the contrary, a few hours after the outbreak of killings at Rukuba road, the Commander of the OPSH, Police Commissioner and top brass of other security agencies, were immediately on ground, thus clearly giving a clear picture of preferential treatment. Equally worth noting is the prompt and urgency in the State Government and the Presidency’s approach towards the rehabilitation of the injured, a radical departure from the usual display of cluelessness and insensitivity, towards our own people. We should stop playing politics with people’s lives.
We demand justice, fairness and equity in the handling of the all cases of attacks in all communities in Plateau State from both the Federal and State Government and their security agencies. All those in Police custody should have their cases quickly assessed and those without incriminating evidence be promptly released while those found guilty should be charged to court for fair hearing and early adjudication of their cases.
We call on the Federal Government to strengthen security around the University of Jos and its environs so as restore confidence of the public in keeping their wards in the University. We specially wish to request that a Mobile Police outstation be established adjacent the Student Village Hostel gate to provide security to the Student Village Hostel in particular and the University Community in general. Also, the Federal Government should provide special intervention funding similar to what was done to Moddibo Adama University Yola to enable the University of Jos to complete the fencing of its land.
We are also calling on the governments at both Federal and State Levels to relocate all the internally displaced persons in the LGAs of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos and Jos-South to their ancestral land and provide adequate security.
We wish to remind all interest groups especially those claiming to represent Arewa interest to understand that Plateau is equally in the northern part of the Country and we shall not take kindly to people calling us names and issuing threats to the Plateau autochthones when we are very much aware of their hidden agenda which is inimical to the Plateau heritage and the collective interest of the autochthones. Anybody who mean well for Plateau State will definitely accord the autochthones respect for their heritage and Political autonomy.
We equally call on religious leaders and their organizations to understand that the three key religions in the Country namely Christianity, Islam and Traditional worshipping have adherents of their faith on the Plateau and the leaders should be mindful of their utterances so as not to destroy the cordial relationship that exist among their followers and to further entrenched the peace that they all professed.
We wish to let the Northern oligarchy and Arewa interest groups know that we have never denied the fact that we are part of the North. Our struggle has been to maintain our cherished heritage and political autonomy and to exist as autonomous partners and not to be subservient to anybody or group. This has been the position of our forefathers and founders of Plateau and has remained non-negotiable. We hope you will respect our position and work with us as equal partners towards achieving the much-needed peace and development in the North.
Finally, we hope that we have provided quality information to educate the public on the wrangling and on-going killings in the State and to enable the Government at all levels to take steps to address the lapses enumerated so as to improve the peace of all citizens in the State.
Prof JKA Madaki, President.
Comrade Gujor Nanle, Secretary-General
September 2, 202