The Existence of The Military Outfit Cannot Be Justified If Massive Attacks, Killings Continue Unabated on The Plateau – Church Leaders

By Ralph Madugu

Christian leaders in Plateau State recently set aside their denominational differences and embarked on a peace walk that defied all the odds as they gathered and spoke with one loud voice declaring ‘enough is enough’ to the mindless, senseless and barbaric killings that have continued unabated in the state.

While presenting their ‘Ten-Point Demand for Peace’ to the Plateau State governor Caleb Mutfwang for onward submission to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu following persistent attack on communities in the state, the church leaders dressed in black attires said the existence of the military outfit cannot be justified if massive attacks and killings continue unabated in the state.

Presenting the document on behalf of Denominational leaders in the presence of thousands of Christians who took part in the peace walk, ECWA President and current National Vice Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr Stephen Baba Panya, called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to do everything possible to prevent Nigeria from drifting into anarchy, adding that Nigerians were no longer willing to stand aloof and allow terrorists to continue to slaughter them like animals.

While condemning the recent attacks on some communities across the state, the cleric said, “The entire Christian community in Plateau State once again condemns in the strongest terms the unprovoked, wicked, satanic and genocidal killings of innocent and harmless Christians on Christmas Eve in over 20 communities in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

Governor Caleb Mutfwang

Citing the case of Veronica Malan, a nursing mother who was shot through her stomach and the bullet pierced her abdomen and passed through the stomach and back of her 9-month-old baby boy, Godwin, the ECWA President added that to ensure that both victims were dead, the attackers slaughtered them along with 23 others who were mostly women in their hideout in Chirang, Mangur District.

“A three-year-old baby girl was shot point-blank and still lies critically ill at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). At the Mbong community, the charred bodies of a woman and her children and relatives set ablaze by the terrorists lies in the ruins of their burnt bedroom.”

Giving a breakdown of the destruction of lives and properties, the cleric said “A further breakdown shows that 110 men, 37 Women, 10 Children, and 3 physically challenged persons were burnt in their homes as they were unable to run. A total of 25 Villages were attacked in the well-coordinated military-style assault.

“The breakdown of the villages according to districts are as follows: Butura (4), Mbar (5), Tangur (4), Bokkos (6), Mushere (1), Mangor (4) and Mazat (1). Total number of cars and buses destroyed (8), Motorcycles (27) while those stolen by the attackers were 2. The total number of houses burnt is about three hundred and one (301).”

Commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu  and the efforts of governor Mutfwang for not only condemning the attacks but directing security agencies to go after the culprits and bring them to justice, the church leaders described response of Bola Tinubu and Gov. Mutfwang  as “a marked departure from the lacklustre response of the Presidency and the Federal Government during similar attacks in the past.

On their 10-point demand for peace, the church leaders called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to as a matter of urgency, initiate the process of officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for these mindless killings.

Rev. Baba who narrated the experiences of the victims stated that the attacks were not only “horrific and reprehensible but incomprehensible.”

Security Personnel giving cover during the Peace Walk

“We call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu through the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Barr. Caleb Muftwang, to provide adequate security for the 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bokkos who are today located in various temporary Camps and houses of relatives. All communities destroyed should be rebuilt and the displaced people relocated and resettled back in their ancestral homelands as soon as possible.

“We call for an end to the intentional dispossession of land and the current land grabbing through militarization and the activities of these armed militias and bandits which have gone on for too long now in Plateau State. Records show that several indigenous villages have been over, the people displaced and some of these villages are currently being occupied by these armed militias. This sad reality and social tragedy must change. The displaced people should be resettled back to their ancestral lands and given adequate security.

“We demand an end to the intentional destruction of farm produce and cattle rustling which have become huge security issues.

Church leaders before the take-off for the peace walk

“We strongly appeal to the Federal Government to establish the North Central Development Commission (NCDC). This has become necessary following the frequent attacks and wanton destruction of lives and properties across the zone in the last decade.

“We call on the Federal government of Nigeria to direct the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately commence the process of rebuilding the destroyed communities pending the establishment of the North Central Development Commission.

“We call for the release of all those alleged to have been arrested with legitimate self-defence implements such as Cutlasses, clubs, machetes, and in the course of protecting their communities in the aftermath of the attacks. Where such persons have been arrested as alleged, they should be immediately released because, it amounts to aggravating the pains of the people by security agencies who did not respond on time to protect the communities, to come belatedly and arrest those who are sacrificially and patriotically defending their communities from further attacks.”

Receiving the demands of the Church leaders for onward submission to President Bola Tinubu, Gov. Caleb Mutfwang thanked the Christian community for keeping the peace of the land in the face of provocation.

He said “By the grace of God, I received your petition and I’ll be forwarding it to President Bola Tinubu who has shown that he has come as a deliverer. He has assured me on a number of occasions that he wants to bring an end to these circles of violence. And I believe him because I have seen him give marching orders to the heads of the security agencies.

“By the grace of God, I have told you before that I didn’t come as a governor to preside over burial ceremonies. So, by the grace of God, we will move from the book of lamentations to the book of acts.

“We will not seat back and watch our people being slaughtered. By the grace of God, we’ll do all that it takes to ensure that this carnage is stopped. We will do all that we can to ensure that our land is secured.

“By the grace of God, the blood of the people that has been shed does not be in vain. It will continue to cry for justice. We are not going to allow these to continue. And we are not going to hide behind politics. I didn’t come as a politician. I have come that Plateau will rise again.”

“We will not continue to weep. Our lamentations will not be in vain. We can only cry in our closets to God. But we will not retreat. We will not back down. Together we will stand shoulder to shoulder. And evil men will not penetrate our communities. I want you to rise to the occasion and demonstrate leadership capacity in your communities. Let us rally behind our church leaders and make sure that together we operate under the same Lord, under the same banner. We cannot fight ourselves and expect to succeed. Let us unite and confront these men that seek to destroy us.

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