A 62years-old widow of herdsmen attack victim, Mrs. Naomi Titus says she has no gain begrudging her husband’s killers.
Late Mr. Titus Tan, 68, was allegedly killed by armed Fulani herdsmen in Kulben village of Plateau State’s Mangu Local Government Area along with 11 others, in an overnight attack on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
A retired Pastor of the Church of Christ in Nations, the father of five was shot while keeping vigilance along with younger men, Mrs. Tan told TLB.
He had successfully evacuated her and their grandchildren from the village when the attackers came shooting with AK47 and other assault rifles, killing everyone in sight, she said.
Naomi did not realize her husband had been killed until she returned to the village the next morning.
“I still haven’t recovered from the shock. The pain is unbearable. If not for God, I truly cannot stand it,” she said.
Despite the pain, however, Mrs. Tan wishes for her husband’s killers to find salvation.
“What has happened is painful but I have to forgive. I have no gain keeping grudges against them. I am even praying for God to use them as his instruments. I want them to be saved from eternal damnation,” she said.
The heartbroken grandmother hoped to reunite and share a mutual relationship with her Fulani herder neighbors after mourning her husband.
Many of the herdsmen had fled the village after the attack for fear of reprisals, but the old widow wishes they return.
The Chief of Kombun District where Kulben village is, Mr. Tetmut Audu Gambo, had told visiting House of Reps member, Solomon Maren that the herders had no reason to fear.
“We have left everything to God. We will not react if the killers planned to pitch us against the people (herders) we have lived with for years. We will not let this (attack) break our bond as a people,” he said.
Leaders of the Fulani herders in the District were equally ready to protect their friendship with the locals.
Mr. Isa Umaru, 65, the Fulani Community leader in the village was in the Palace of the District Head of Kombun to show sympathy when MK spoke with him.
“I am over 60yrs old and this is where I was born. I don’t know anywhere else. If I knew those who did it, I will personally hunt and hand them over to securities but this thing happened in the night and no one saw their faces. But I am praying for God to expose them,” he said.
The Chairman of a Fulani group – Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Mangu LGA branch, Mr. Ya’u Yusuf, was equally found addressing local youths in the village square.
He said, “I want to appeal to the people of this community, both natives and herdsmen to unite and let us fight this evil. No matter who is involved, if it is found that they are truly culpable, let us not harbor them. I will never cover up for any criminal no matter my relationship with him.
“If any of you knows anyone that has a hand in it, please let us know and we will fish them out. Violence is terrible and we can’t let it start here. Right now, you have lost your loved ones and we have lost some too. Who has gained? Let us join hands to end this before it breaks us.”
The Reps member representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency, Solomon Maren had appealed for calm in the village.
“Let no one take the laws into their hands but allow Government to deal with the matter lawfully,” he said.
“When I was coming here (the village), I was shocked to see a group of Fulani and local women fleeing to safety together without problems. It means they are not the ones fighting themselves. I believe that those who are behind this (attack) are aliens and law enforcements must find and bring them to justice,” Maren added.
The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong had vowed to ensure justice for the villagers, but with a plea for forgiveness.
“What has happened is painful, but I am appealing to you for patience and forgiveness. Those behind this will be made to face the full weight of the law as we will not rest until they are caught and made to face justice,” Lalong said when he visited the village 24hrs after the attack.
As of the time of filing this report, seven suspects were reportedly arrested in neighboring Pankshin and Bokkos Local Government Areas following a tipoff from native and local herdsmen.
They were said to have been transported to the State Government House in Jos, the State Capital on the directive of local authorities.
Whether they truly face justice or not, the appeals and consensus of both citizens and officials on the matter might have provided a template for lasting peace in the village.