The Fulani bandits who yesterday attacked Yelwan Zangam community in Jos North Local of Plateau State, roasting 36 persons to death and razing houses and farm produce, defied the curfew earlier imposed in Jos by the State government following the recent attack on travellers in the State, eyewitnesses have said.
Most of the 36 dead were women, children and the aged, who died of gunshot injuries while those who were slaughtered were equally roasted like bushmeat.
According David Zaion, a member of the community who confirmed that 36 corpses had been recovered at the scene of the attack as at the time of the report, while more than 20 houses were burnt along with farm produce, most of the villagers had fled the community for fear of further attacks.
“The bandits invaded the community in large numbers in the early hours of Wednesday (today) and killed women, children and the aged persons,” he agonised.
“We have recovered up to 36 corpses and several others are still missing. You can see for yourself how people were butchered and roasted in their sleep.
“We are hopeless at the moment, we have lost confidence in the government and security agencies. They are not doing their job the way it is supposed to be.”
Meanwhile, youths from the community have carried corpses of the slain to the State House of Assembly in protest against the terror attack on Yelwan Zangam this morning, to express their displeasure at the inability of the legislators to come up with laws that would protect citizens against such attacks.
The youths, who dumped the corpses at the State Assembly, lamented that no government official had come to their aid since the incident occurred.
The angry youths later proceeded with the corpses loaded in a vehicle to the new Government House Rayfield to express their bitterness towards Governor Simon Lalong over his inability to protect them.
Receiving the youths at the Government House, the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, pleaded for calm, assuring the youths that government would take drastic measures going forward to avert a repeat of the ugly incident.
In his own reaction, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau State, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, described the killings as barbaric and urged Christians in the state to defend themselves.
“I totally condemn this attack; this is inhumanity to man and it is unacceptable. I call on the federal government to mobilize more security to Plateau State,” Fr. Lubo said.
“The security (forces) here have been doing their best but they are not doing enough. You can see we have about 16 corpses here and we were told that several others were roasted and no body is saying anything.
“These killings were as a result of the utterances of some Islamic scholars who made nasty statements when some persons were killed one week ago. They said they are going to retaliate and this is what we are seeing.
“I have told the General Officer Commanding 3 Division and the Commander of the Operation Safe Haven to call those Islamic scholars to book. I want to say this that nobody has right over anybody’s life.”
He described the recent killings as worse compared to the last killings that claimed the lives of 23 commuters who were said to be Muslims.
“We come to realize in this country that there are citizens that are second class, some citizens are superior to others but we know that all of us are human beings, irrespective of religion,” the priest said.
While consoling the families of the angry youths who conveyed the corpses of the slain to the State Assembly complex, Speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Ayuba Abok, who addressed the angry youths with the corpses at the Assembly complex, described the killings as “unfortunate and unacceptable.”
“I am not the governor but I am going to follow this matter to the end to ensure justice for the victims,” he said.
In his reaction, Governor Simon Bako Lalong expressed deep grief over the attack at Yelwa Zangam, condemning it as a barbaric act and directing security agencies who have already arrested 10 suspects in connection with the attack to intensify efforts in tracking down the other assailants and their sponsors in order to bring them to justice.
“Lalong is furious over the incident which security reports indicate was carefully planned, as the bridge linking the village was said to have been destroyed in order to deny security forces access to the area during the attack,” a security source said.
While sympathising with the affected people, Lalong who called for calm, assuring them that they would get justice, warned criminals that they would be pursued, arrested and dealt with, no matter how long it takes, as his administration would not allow the reign of terror to persist and rubbish all the investments made in restoring calm in the State.
Also, Plateau State Government has reinstated the 24-hour curfew earlier relaxed in Jos North Local Government Area following the growing tensions arising from today’s attack on Yelwa Zangam.
According to Governor Simon Lalong, the 24-hour curfew came into effect from 4pm today, Wednesday, August 25, 2021 until further notice.
“The proactive decision became necessary following eminent threat to lives and properties within the Local Government Area and the need to forestall the breakdown of law and order. It will also enable security agencies deploy appropriately to maintain security as the search for the attackers of the villagers continues,” the governor said.
Lalong appealed to the citizens of Jos North to cooperate with the Government by abiding to the 24-hour curfew commencing 4pm, 25th August 2021, as security agencies have been mandated to ensure that those who violate the curfew are arrested.
“Also, the 6pm to 6am curfew in Jos South and Bassa LGAs still remains in place until further notice. Only people on essential duties such as health personnel, journalists, fire service and para-military and others, are to be exempted from the curfew but should carry means of identification with them at all times,” he said.
“The Governor is calling for calm as he is seriously grieved by the attacks. He again sympathises with the victims, but wants them to show restraint and allow Government to handle the matter to disallow hoodlums from taking advantage of the unfortunate situation to cause mayhem and destruction in the State.”
The Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) confirmed the attack on Yelwa Zagam community where 36 people were slaughtered by Fulani bandits in the early hours of today.
Military Information Officer, Major Ishaku Takwa, in a statement, said: “The Zagam Community of Yelwa in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State on August 24, 2021 came under attack by suspected gunmen.
“The attackers came in the night and started house to house shooting of unsuspecting members of the community. The gunmen also destroyed houses and the bridge linking the town to the community making access to the area difficult for security agencies.
“Troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN mobilised to save the community were slowed down by the destruction of the bridge by the marauders.
Troops eventually got to the scene of the attack by navigating through other villages and met some houses already burnt and casualties recorded. Troops are on pursuit in the direction the killers fled.”