ACHOR ABIMAJE, in this report, narrates how bottled up emotions over lack of conducive living environment led some internally displaced persons (IDPs) to attack the convoy of the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong.
Irked by the inability of both the Plateau State and Federal Governments to provide security to secure lives and property of ordinary citizens, which led to the death of hundreds and thousands of internally displaced persons, the IDPs in Anguldi camp in Jos South local government area of Plateau State, last Saturday, went berserk as they hauled stones at Governor Simon Lalong’s convoy, shortly after he paid a visit to the camp.
The unprecedented attack on the governor by the irate IDPs came two weeks after a similar invasion on the Plateau State Government House, where government properties, vehicles of civil servants and visitors to the Government House, running into millions of naira, were destroyed.
In the process, the angry crowd damaged vehicles in the convoy of the governor, which included those belonging to the press corps, security and relief materials agencies.
The IDPs were demanding that government at all levels should provide enabling environment for them to live like human beings. They wanted government to rebuild their burnt houses and provide enough security that can guarantee their returning to their ancestral homes.
Since the gruesome killings of people in Barkin Ladi, Riyom local government area of the state in June this year, over 21 internally displaced camps had been erected in the state with many refugees converting churches and primary schools to shelters.
Reacting to the development, the Plateau State government said hoodlums, acting on the script of their sponsors, laid ambush on the highway and attacked the governor’s convoy with stones, rods and other unidentified objects, damaging vehicles in the convoy including those belonging to the press corps, security and relief agencies.
According to Hon Yakubu Dati, the state commissioner for Information and Communication, he said government found it regrettable that while its efforts at restoring peace are yielding results, certain unpatriotic elements are hell bent on returning the state to the sad era of blood letting by instigating religious and ethnic hatred, for cheap political gains.
“The government views these attacks as an affront on the authority of the state and will therefore take appropriate measures to checkmate merchants of division and death.
“The governor wishes to assure citizens that government will not relent in ensuring that the safety of citizens is guaranteed and the relative peace sustained while commending the security agencies for professionally carrying out their duties with restrain, even in the face of extreme provocation, urging the IDPs not to allow those who do not wish them well to use their misfortune for ulterior motives.”
He called on parents and community leaders to counsel their children and wards against becoming willing tools in the hands of conflict merchants.
He stressed that government has set machinery in motion to fish out and bring to justice, all those conniving to present the state as unsafe by sowing the seed of discord among the good people of the state.
Similarly, the Berom Patriots, a socio- cultural organisation of the Berom nation, has described as shocking, the attack on the convoy of Governor Simon Lalong after leaving the Anguldi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp where he visited and sympathised with the victims with the assurance of getting justice for them.
A statement, issued in Jos and signed by Dachollom Badung (president) and Gyang David (secretary) clarified that although the camp is sited in Berom land, it should not be misconstrued that the attack was carried out by Berom people.
The patriots added that while they condemn the attack on the peaceful governor, they make bold to say that some miscreants, with ulterior motives, might have taken advantage of the vulnerability of the IDPs to carry out their heinous activities.
The statement reads, “we make bold to say that some miscreants with ulterior motives might have taken advantage of the vulnerability of the IDPs to carry out their heinous activities.
“We recall that some disgruntled elements recently, under the false cover of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Plateau Northern Zone, criminally attacked Government House Jos in the name of protest.”
They implored anyone with a grievance to use all democratic channels available instead of resorting to self help.
A concerned citizen, Francis Chung, who was seen sitting at the camp looking very frustrated, told our correspondent that he is 43 years old and the president of Gashish community development association in Barkin Ladi local government council of the state.
According to him, he was in the camp to see how his people were faring as a leader. He said that the Angudili camp, is one out of the over 15 internally displaced persons camp spread across the state.
“I’m here basically to see the welfare of my people and to see the areas we can assist and to equally see the overall condition of the camp, as well as, encourage them to have faith in the Lord for the solution to our problem.”
Chung called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, bring the incessant killings to an end. He said, people are just being killed in their ancestral homes without any provocation as if there is no government in place.
He added that the federal government needs to take drastic action against the perpetrators of the atrocious acts, as there cannot be any justification for killing human beings.
For Peter Sunday, the 33- year-old man was in the camp with four of his siblings. He told our correspondent that he lost his father and mother in the crisis and their house was burnt down by suspected herdsmen in Kakur village of Barkin Ladi local government council.
According to him, “Our village was burnt down and we were left with nothing to hold on to as I’m talking to you right now.’
Sunday appealed to the federal government to stop the killings of innocent souls and provide security to enable them get back to their ancestral homes to continue their livelihood, adding that his village had been attacked times without number.
Mancha Ezekiel is a 46- year-old man from Shonong village of Barkin Ladi local government council of the state. According to him, he was among the vigilante group of the village that kept vigil in the night attacks.
He said in the night, around 1:30am, they heard a gun shot and thought that it might have been a shot from a hunter and they began moving towards that direction, when they heard more gun shots that were more sophisticated and they scampered for safety, only for the attackers to come out in their large numbers, “before we knew it, we were overwhelmed and the entire village was on fire.”
Ezekiel said those who could not run where killed especially women, children and the aged while most of the houses were burnt down.
He disclosed that they had to run for their dear lives and to abandon their Irish potato farms for safety in the camp.
“Staying here is like we are in a cage. We want the government to, as a matter of urgency, stop the killings and provide security that will guarantee our returning home to continue with our lives,” he said.
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