Christian Association of Nigeria protests Plateau killings as police arrest 10 suspects
The Christian Association of Nigeria, on Monday, led a protest over continuous killings in Plateau State and other parts of the country.
This is as police sources said 10 suspects had been arrested in connection with the Christmas Eve killings of over 150 villagers by gunmen in the Barkin Ladi, Mangu, and Bokkos Local Government Areas of the state.
The protest tagged “Plateau Peace Walk,” was led by the state CAN chairman, Rev Polycarp Lubo; Evangelical Church Winning All President, Rev Stephen Panya; Church of Christ in Nations President, Rev. Amos Mohzo; Catholic Bishop of Jos, Most Rev. Mathew Audu; Methodist Bishop of Jos, Rev. Nkechi Nwosu; as well as the President, Gideon and Funmi-ParaMallam Peace Foundation, Rev. Gideon ParaMallam, among other prominent Christian leaders in the state.
The protesters, who were all dressed in black attire, started the peace walk at the PRTVC Roundabout in Jos around 9.30 am and headed to the Rayfield Government House where they were received by top government officials, including the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang.
The Chairman of the Denominational Leaders Forum in the state and National Vice President of CAN, Panya, in a protest letter he handed over to the governor for onward delivery to President Bola Tinubu, said that Christians and people of Plateau State were not happy over the continued attacks and killings in the state.
Panya, who recounted how villagers in their communities, including children, were brutally murdered in their homes during the Christmas Eve attacks, noted that for many years, Christians in Plateau State had come under persistent attacks and killings without any decisive action taken to stop the killings.
He 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.
The timing of these killings on Christmas Eve and during Christmas celebrations has shown that the attackers had clear intentions and objectives, which were to target Christian communities, take them unawares and inflict maximum casualty on them. Based on authenticated statistics released so far, this is one of the deadliest and most devastating attacks on the Plateau.
These attacks were not only horrific and reprehensible but incomprehensible. For example, Veronica Malan, a nursing mother, was shot through her stomach and the bullet pierced her abdomen and passed through the stomach and back of her nine-month-old baby boy, Godwin. To ensure that they were both dead, they were slaughtered along with 23 others, 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. At the Mbong community, the charred bodies of a woman and her children and relatives set ablaze by the terrorists lie in the ruins of their burnt bedroom.”
While calling on the President to take drastic action in dealing with the situation, the chairman urged 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.
He also called for the release of all those alleged to have been arrested with legitimate self-defence implements such as cutlasses, clubs, and machetes, and in the course of protecting their communities in the aftermath of the attacks.
In the last 22 years of killings, no serious attackers and their sponsors have been apprehended and properly prosecuted and sanctioned to the best of our knowledge. Therefore, over the years, the attackers and their sponsors have become more emboldened to continue in their satanic schemes while Christians are left in pain and sorrow.
“These attacks are depressing to any sane mind and too barbaric to be happening in a post-modern society. This is why we are gathered here today and in one loud voice declare that: Enough is Enough! Our honest desire for Plateau State and Nigeria at large is for the people to enjoy peace, unity, stability and progress,” he added.
He presented the protesters’ “10-point demands” to include: timely intervention in the provision of emergency relief in terms of food, water, toiletries, sleeping materials and other such necessities for displaced survivors; an end to the sustained attacks and killings on the Plateau and in Nigeria; and immediate justice for the people of Bokkos, Mangu, Riyom, Bassa, Barkin Ladi and other affected communities.
Other demands include “officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for these mindless killings”; adequate security for the “15,000 internally displaced persons in Bokkos who are today located in various temporary camps and houses of relatives; rebuilding of all communities destroyed and the relocation and resettlement of displaced persons to their ancestral homelands, among others.
Governor Mutfwang, who received the protest letter, promised to deliver it to President Tinubu.
He thanked the church leaders for keeping the peace in the state even in the face of obvious provocation by the terrorists while promising to “mobilise all the agencies on the ground, give them the enabling environment for them to function effectively.”
Meanwhile, the Police Special Forces deployed to the state by the Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, said they had arrested 10 suspects in connection with the Christmas Eve killings
This is as the combing of villages and mountains continues by the police specialised team comprising operatives of the Police Mobile Force, Counterterrorism Unit, Special Forces, Intelligence Response Team, Force Criminal Investigation Department, and the Special Tactical Squad, headed by Ebong Ebong, the Assistant Inspector General Police in charge of Zone 4.
Speaking in separate interviews with FCG, two members of the Police Management Team who spoke in confidence, revealed that the police special forces had arrested about 10 suspects in connection with the killings.
It was also revealed that the deployed police operatives started combing the bushes and mountains in and around the affected villages and LGAs since Saturday, December 30.
“The special forces have arrested 10 suspects so far, and they’re currently in detention where they are being interrogated. The AIG in charge of the operation is leaving no stones unturned in the manhunt for the perpetrators,” a police source revealed.
Another source noted, “The AIG and the specialised police teams landed in Plateau State last Saturday following the IG’s order for their immediate deployment. They are giving the attackers a tough time as they’ve gone into the bushes, mountain, and the nooks and crannies of the villages and they have made several arrests.”