Police in Central Nigeria are investigating the murder of a teenager, Amos Elisha, 22, in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State on Tuesday, by suspected herdsmen.
Armed with machetes, daggers and dazzling swords, six ambushers pounced on Amos and his friend, Daniel Sati, few miles to a military checkpoint, it was gathered.
Dizzy Daniel currently nursing deep machete and dagger cuts in his head and hands recalls sighting the killers before approaching, but was persuaded by his friend who was brimming with courage and faith, to keep moving.
In his words, “We were walking from Makera (village) where we went to buy water pump machine parts. I saw signs of human movements in the grasses and suggested that we should turn back but Amos said we should have faith, that even if we were to be killed, we should still trust Jesus to provide us a refuge in heaven.
“As we approached, three people jumped out from both sides of the roads and started chasing us.”
According to Daniel, he and his friend had lost energy having trekked over three miles without rest, and could therefore not run faster than the attackers. They therefore attempted to fight back with their bare hands while beating a retreat, but were overpowered.
“We picked anything we found on the ground – rocks, woods, anything on our way and threw at them to keep a distance while we ran but they had already injured both of us. When they first pounced on us, they hit me with a machete on my head. Amos was also bleeding but I don’t know where he was hit. We were running and falling with more assaults coming. It was a lonely bush so we were screaming for help but no one showed up,” said Daniel.
Daniel ran, fighting and praying in his heart, with blood dripping from different sides of his head and hands. He fell down at a point, clearly weak from the injuries and continued bleeding, and was to be stabbed in the ground, but swiftly sprang up, hitting the sword off the attacker’s hand.
His friend had ran into nearby bushes and was chased by five of the attackers. Daniel’s attacker used a smaller knife to inflict different degrees of injuries on him but he never gave up.
He struggled until he knocked him down with only a rock in his hand. He was however accosted by the other assailants, before he could ride up and run.
“They hit me several times with their daggers and machetes but I still ran and escaped to Tashek (nearby village) from where I was taken to hospital,” he said.
As of the time he was taken to hospital, Daniel was sure his friend who was a native of Tashek village escaped and was hiding in the bushes.
A local nongovernmental organization, Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN) had at about 8pm on Tuesday published SOS on social media, calling for his rescue, but Amos was found dead in the pool of his blood when vigilante arrived the scene. A blood stained machete and handset believed to belong to the killers were found at the scene, but with no one in sight.
“It is devastating to see a young promising man butchered in that manner,” said Mr. Solomon Dalyop, the Chief Executive Officer, ECCVN.
Solomon, a human rights lawyer, is following up investigations on the murder, which is the second of such isolated attacks this month in the same axis, but appears to be alone in the struggle.
Last two weeks two youths – Joseph Davou, 28, and Jerry Bitrus, 32, were killed while traveling on motorcycle in the area, closely behind a military convoy.
At least eight attacks were recorded last year in the axis with at least 12 people including a crowned prince killed.
Tarshek Village in particular, has been a target of attack for long, it was gathered. Mr. Elisha Yakubu, the father to Amos Elisha who killed in the latest attack, was killed in the same location ten years ago. His eldest son, Victor Gyang was also ambushed in the same spot, but survived with severe injuries.
A Pastor in the area, Yusuf Tanko, said herdsmen in the area have issued threats openly during meetings with securities but no arrest is made.
“In our meetings in farmer-herder reconciliation committees, the herders always complain that the natives are always preventing them from herding,” he said.
The Nigerian Secret Service in late December alerted military task force of plans to attack communities but no new deployments have been confirmed.
Observers are hopeful that the new Service Chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday will change the operational strategies of Task Force units in conflict-ridden parts of the country.