Central Nigeria: Janet Danlami, 28, is currently passing through her most painful moments in life. She and her husband, Danlami Sunday were happily married for ten years until herdsmen killed him along with four others on Sunday in their home in Kishisho, a Plateau-Kaduna border village.
Janet was delivered of a male child three weeks ago, fulfilling some of their greatest wishes. They had three female children and were happy. However, Danlami’s father, Sunday was killed five years ago, in an attack that claimed 45 people in the same village.
Sunday was killed with his brother and two sons when hundreds of armed assailants believed to be herdsmen invaded the village.
Danlami, a Church elder, survived narrowly, and has been caring for the children of his slain siblings and uncles. His wish was however to remember his father by naming his child after him.
When the male child arrived late last month, Danlami named him Sunday without hesitation. However, he did not know he would be killed on a Sunday.
“We heard gunshots. We just finished having dinner and were preparing to sleep when the shootings started. I wanted to run but he (Danlami) said I should not. He tried to calm me down and prayed with me. He asked me to stay back at home with the kids while he joined other men outside to watch over the village, but he never came back,” tearfully muttered his wife Janet.
Mr. Dennis Habila, 23, was outside with Danlami when the attackers struck. He himself was shot in the thigh before crawling to safety. Dozens of herders armed with sophisticated weapons pounced on them while patrolling the village, killing five, he said.
“When they shot me, I heard one of them saying ‘follow him, follow him’ in Hausa language and two others with machetes came running after me. I ran but couldn’t go far so I jumped into the shrubs and crawled to safety,” said Dennis.
It was however the second attack in the village in a week. Last Tuesday, a father of three, Raphael Bawa, was killed at noon by ambushing herdsmen near the village. He was returning from a local market where he had a commercial motorcycle transport business.
Three others had been killed in a neighboring village, Antyak two weeks earlier, leading to protests by women groups. The protesters razed a military motorbike and tent for failing to respond during the invasion and were forced to pay.
Afraid of a repeat, Raphael closed business to get home early, but the assailants had taken position, disguised in herds of cattle. Rumours had circulated days before, about plans to attack communities in the area.
This was to avenge the death of a suspected killer last two weeks during a failed attack in the area, it was gathered.
The killing of Raphael was followed by an attempted invasion of a previously attacked village, Hura Maiyanga hours later. The invaders, including one Manga Habbaneh, a fleeing suspect in the murder of Mr. Lazarus Agai, the Paramount Chief of Bokkos, Plateau State four years ago, were killed in gun battle with vigilante and security operatives, it was learnt.
At a security meeting last Saturday at Kwall, Bassa LGA, the Plateau headquarters of Sector 3 Special Task Force Command, representatives of the herders reportedly accused Kishiko villagers of facilitating the resistance that led to the death of the suspected assailants.
“We were alarmed by their comments but we didn’t want to create a scene, since the meeting was reconciliatory,” said a youth leader.
The attack on Sunday, a local Pastor, Rev. Monday Nyenti said has thrown the village into fear, being with no security presence.
As of the time of writing this report, over 200 women and children were seen fleeing the area for fear of another attack.
One of them, Mrs. Asabe Francis whose son, John Francis was killed along with Danlami Sunday was among those fleeing.
Asabe told Journalists that she no longer felt safe in her home, when asked at a public borehole in Kimapka hamlet where she and her 20 grand children stopped for a drink.
Officials have yet to comment on the incident, but securities were seen arriving the village toward evening.