Jos, Nigeria: Death toll from last Sunday’s attacks in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State has risen to 20, MK has learnt.
The attacks started with the killing of 13 on Sunday night in Kwatas village.
Violent protests erupted on Monday morning, at about the same time one of seven injured persons died in hospital.
Some neighboring settlements belonging to Fulani herders were razed during the protests, causing an escalation of the initial violence, reports say.
An aged man, trapped in his burning house in nearby Ruboi village was burnt to ashes, survivors say.
His son, it was learnt was gunned down while chasing after the attackers in obvious anger.
Several houses including that of former Plateau State House of Assembly Speaker, Titus Alams were razed in the village.
Same destructions were recorded in neighboring Marish village located few kilometers away from Kwatas village.
Churches and houses belonging to Christian clergymen were not spared.
Three people were killed in that attack which lasted till noon, despite early alerts to government securities.
One other, a relation of a Local Government legislator in Mangu was killed in a Mangu LGA border village – Murish which neighbors Kwatas to the north.
By sunset, tensions had spread to surrounding Machambe, Mazare, Marit, Mazat, Fanjor and Maikatako villages.
Markets and schools were forced to close as some displaced persons camped in Church premises in Bokkos town.
“Fulani, native leaders culpable”
The attacks followed similar killings in nearby Kulben village of Mangu Local Government Area.
12 people including an aged Pastor were killed in the Kulben attack.
The attack on January 8, 2020 started with the gunning of one person in Kon village of Kerang District two days earlier.
Four of seven suspects were reportedly arrested in Kwatas with the help of local vigilante.
Some houses belonging to Fulani herders were equally razed in reprisals with unconfirmed deaths recorded.
On Saturday January 25, 2020, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Isaac Akinwumi summoned a meeting of community leaders in border-linked Bokkos, Barkin Ladi and Mangu LGAs to prevent “breach of peace”.
The Governor of Plateau State, angered by the renewed violence on Tuesday ordered the detention of community leaders in the affected areas.
At a meeting of stakeholders, Lalong directed the Police Commissioner to instantly lock up the native and Fulani leaders of the attacked villages in Bokkos and Mangu for questioning.
In Lalong’s words, “how can they say that people are killed and there is
no arrest. Are those killing others spirits? I don’t think you can kill 15 human beings and claim you are spirit and there is not arrest. Commissioner of Police, you should take the community leaders and the Ardos with you so that they can tell you those behind these killings. By the time you go to cell, you will bring out those people that are doing it. If you want to give evidence, give it to the commissioner of police. We are not afraid of criminals.
“Some community leaders and Ardos (Fulani leaders) have done their best but within us, there are criminals. We must expose them no matter how high. If you are one of them, you better take yourself to the police station. The Army is here, Police, Civil Defence, DSS, Operation Rainbow. I want those people today. They should not sleep in their houses. By the time they are arrested, we will
solve this problem”.
Lawyers protest arrest
A Group of concerned Mwagjhavul lawyers on Wednesday stormed the Plateau State Police Command in Jos to protest the invitation of their paramount ruler, Da Nelson Bakfur for questioning as ordered by Gov. Simon Lalong.
The Age Newspaper reports that the lawyers numbering about forty regarded the Governor’s order as insulting.
Leader of the protesters, Barrister Dasplang, addressing Journalists said, “Our Paramount ruler, including us, his people, are mourning the unjust and wicked killing of our brothers, and then the Governor could give an order for his arrest.
“To us, the arrest or invitation of our paramount ruler by the police command is an insult on us as Mwagjhavul nation.
“We are here at the police command to protest his arrest or invitation, which to us was very uncalled for and a slap on our face.
“We are not against the authorities trying to unravel the causes and persons behind the attacks and killings, but for a person in his status as paramount ruler, they should have visited his palace to obtain whatever information on they want from him but not to arrest him as a criminal, ” the group argued.”
The Plateau State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abuh Gabriel, however said it was outside the Police powers to free suspects.
“The lawyers know that our action was in compliance with the order of the State Governor,” Gabriel said.
It is not sure if any of the detained community leaders has been released but the victims of the latest attack in Bokkos will be given a mass burial today.