Attacks and Killings on the Plateau Must Be Stopped with Solidarity

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burned remains of family killed in attacks on Yelwa Zangam community

The spate of criminal attacks in Plateau state have reached a disquieting level. This year alone, attacks and reprisal attacks have claimed the lives of well over 2000 people. The most recent of such horrible incidents is the killing of over 35 people in the Yelwa Zangam community of Jos, by armed gunmen who attacked the community on Tuesday 24 August.

There had been two attacks in the state, earlier in the same month. Tafi Gana Village in the Miango District was sacked at night on Tuesday 19 August.  Not less than five people were killed. This appears to have been a reprisal to the killing of commuters on Saturday 14 August, which left 22 people dead on Rukuba Road in the Jos North Local Government Area, which itself took place in the wake of a mass killing when a local community was attacked some days earlier.

Different narratives on the circumstances around this bloody incident have circulated in the mass and social media. death of these 22 People. Most of these are marked by inconsistency and contradictory strands. And quite a few appear intent on deepening the horrific history of inter-communal strife that has become rife in this otherwise peaceful area, in recent times.

It must be noted that on different occasions the Irigwe people in the locality where that attack took place have distanced themselves from it. Similarly, the news circulating among the local communities in Plateau state as regards the death of the travellers in Jos North are entirely different. According to numerous shared audio stories, the buses conveying the travellers from Bauchi state were preceded by an ambulance which was filled with guns.

About two weeks ago we wrote of a series of attacks on Jebbu Miango, a small farming village. The village, which had been attacked several times this year, was finally razed to the ground. More than 50 women, children and men were murdered in cold blood.

This was one of several attacks on poor farming communities in Plateau state which hardly got national media coverage. Perhaps the gag order on reportage of insecurity had been put into effect before the Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s regime’s proclamation.

Many of the commentators are addressing the August 14 attack as an isolated event thereby extenuating the numerous crimes that have been impacted even in recent period on poor communities in Plateau state. But the most dangerous of these elements are those that attribute the August 14 incident to religious and ethnic-motivated. The inherent danger in that attempt is aside that it furthers encourage prejudices among poor oppressed people, it also promotes more violence.

For example, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) issued a statement where it said, “We demand action from the federal government to ensure a permanent end to the incessant highway attacks, including the arrest of traditional rulers and all elected representatives from the communities that harbour the terrorists, and where resistance is shown, the communities be demolished and replaced by military posts”.

This position can only stoke more fires of conflicts. It is obvious that the group has already concluded that Irigwe people are responsible for the 14 August killings, even without adequate investigation. And it also called for more violence on the poor people of that communities.

Jos and poor farming communities in Plateau state have been hotbeds of communal attacks. These attacks have been going on unabated for decades since September 2001. The state has failed to guarantee the security of people’s lives.

There has also been a spate of attacks and killings of Students and workers of the University of Jos. Currently, the university has been forced to shut down, thereby disrupting the academics of thousands of students. That also created a war scenario in which different state governments have had to evacuate students from the campus.

The negligence of successive state and federal governments in the face of brutal attacks on poor communities for years has emboldened the assailants. Drawing from the lack of capacity and political will of government to put the attacks and reprisal attacks to rest, we cannot excuse the governments from the numerous crimes against the poor farmers, workers and students of Plateau state and environs.

The situation in Plateau state is a demonstration of the severity of the state of insecurity in Nigeria. The poor communities around the north central area of the country have been subjected to incessant attacks including banditry. Communities in southern Kaduna for instance are engulfed in criminal attacks, nine people were recorded to have been killed in Ungwan Dooh village of Zangon Kataf LGA, Kaduna state.

Serious action that will nip the crises in the bud have to be taken. ASUU in Plateau, NLC, TUC Plateau state councils, youth and community organizations need to moblize and intervene to arrest the incessant crisis.

We equally call on youth and community organizations in all the impacted areas to organise local defense groups against all forms of attack and oppression. We must realize that it is we – the oppressed people- who can liberate ourselves from and stop this madness of attacks The Socialist Workers & Youth League assures the youth and people of Plateau state of our solidarity.

by Lai BROWN

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