Outrage on Tuesday greeted the coordinated attacks on 23 villages in Bokkos and Barkin Ladi local government areas of Plateau State, which left over 150 dead and many others injured.
Death toll from the attacks launched from Saturday night to early Monday morning rose to 155 yesterday; while over 6,000 people are said to have been displaced.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) condemned the attacks and called for a change in military tactics.
Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Director, Publicity and Advocacy/Spokesperson, NEF, in a statement yesterday, said: “NEF expresses concern over the inability of the military to prevent the Christmas Eve killings, despite claiming to have promptly responded to 36 distress calls from different locations in Plateau State in the 48 hours leading up to Christmas. This highlights the Forum’s growing suspicions regarding the efficacy and sufficiency of the government’s operational methods.
“NEF questions whether the strategies employed by the government are flawed or grossly inadequate, given the audacious regularity and ease with which the attackers operate across the northern region.
“NEF is also deeply concerned about the recent security incident in Ruwan Dorawa village, Zamfara State that unfolded on the same Christmas Eve resulting in the loss of two innocent lives and the abduction of over 25 individuals, predominantly children and women, including the wife of the village head.
“In light of this incident and the escalating security challenges faced by the region, NEF urgently demands a comprehensive investigation into the reported security lapse in Ruwan Dorawa village. The findings of this inquiry must be made public, and those responsible for the security breach must be held accountable to ensure justice for the victims and prevent such incidents from reoccurring,” the statement said.
The Forum also called upon the relevant authorities to give immediate attention to the several administrative and judicial commissions of inquiry reports concerning security incidents in Plateau, Kaduna and other conflict areas in the North.
It further called “For a reassessment of the current strategies deployed by the government, as they have proved ineffective and inefficient in curbing the escalating violence. NEF strongly condemns this devastating act and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families affected by this heinous crime.”
Kwara State governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, described the attacks on Plateau villages as shocking and sad.
In a statement on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, the governor asked the security agencies to get to the root of the incident.
He condoled with the people and government of Plateau, especially the bereaved families.
He said, “Nothing justifies the violence visited on innocent people” and urged the security agencies to get to the roots of the incident and bring perpetrators to book.
He prayed to God to give comfort to all the affected families and appealed to everyone on the Plateau to do everything to avoid “A cycle of violence, which only inflicts generational pains and underdevelopment”.
Similarly, the Northern States Governors’ Forum described the attacks as reprehensible and heinous.
Its chairman and governor of Gombe State, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, expressed deepest condolences to the affected families and communities as well as the government and people of Plateau State.
In a statement by his spokesman, Ismaila Uba Misilli, he said it was “Reprehensible and disheartening to hear the loss of over 100 hundred lives and destruction of properties that occurred during these attacks, especially during a time when residents were preparing to celebrate the festive season.
“Such acts of violence are not only cowardly but also run counter to the spirit of unity and coexistence that our region upholds.
“We must all prioritise peace and harmonious living in our communities. Now, more than ever, we must reaffirm our commitment to peaceful coexistence and solidarity regardless of our differences.
“We must unite in our commitment to peace and security, and stand firm against all forms of violence and division,” the governor warned in the statement.
Yahaya commended Governor Caleb Mutfwang for his leadership and responsible handling of the situation in the aftermath of the attacks and assured him that the northern governors stood united in solidarity with him in the face of adversity and would work together towards lasting peace in Plateau State.
He commended the security agencies operating in the area, and implored them to redouble their efforts in safeguarding the lives and property of the people, harping on urgent need for increased vigilance and swift action to ensure the safety of all citizens.
He also urged members of the communities to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspicious activities to the security agencies for immediate intervention.
Meanwhile, the governor of Plateau State, Celeb Mutfwang, said 64 communities in the state had been displaced by terrorists occupying the areas and some schools.
Speaking on Channels Television yesterday, Mutfwang highlighted the immense burden placed on the state by the continuous displacement of citizens due to terrorist activities.
He said, “When people are dislocated from their villages and they have to run for shelter, now we are struggling to provide shelter for these people that have been displaced and dislocated from their communities.
“If they stay away from those communities for a sustained period of time, the terrorists would come in. As I am talking to you today (Tuesday), in Riyom Local Government, in Barkin Ladi Local Government, schools have been occupied by these terrorists for almost a number of years now.
“We have not less than 64 communities that have been displaced and their lands have been taken over by these terrorists.”
The governor condemned the perceived inaction under the previous administration, stating that residents felt the terrorists were given official government backing.
He emphasised that the current occupation of schools did not happen overnight, with some having been seized for as long as five years.
“Under the last regime, the feeling among people in Plateau State particularly the victims of these terrorist attacks was that it looked as if the terrorists were given official government backing to be able to terrorise them because little or nothing was done to repel these attacks.
“I can tell you these schools that are being occupied, it didn’t just start now, some of those schools have been occupied in the last three, four, five years.
“Children therefore in those schools have not been able to go to school, they have to relocate; we even have primary health care centres abandoned because of these terrorists, which means that our health care system is put in jeopardy, what do we need to do? I think this is where the president needs to come in,” he added.
Daily Trust placed a call to Dr Makut Simon, the spokesman for the former governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong for a response to the allegations made by Governor Mutfwang but there was no response.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu condemned what he called “heinous and brutal attacks” in Plateau.
The president, in a statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, directed security agencies to immediately move in, scour every stretch of the zone, and apprehend the culprits.
President Tinubu also directed immediate mobilisation of relief resources for surviving victims of the primitive and cruel attacks as well as medical treatment for the wounded.
While condoling with the government and the people of Plateau State, the president assured Nigerians that these envoys of death, pain, and sorrow will not escape justice.