In a press briefing held by Equity International, Ambassador Chris Iyama addressed the media, shedding light on the grim situation in Mangu, Bokkos, and other Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Plateau State. The organization expressed deep concern over a series of unfortunate events, culminating in the senseless killings of at least 230 innocent people between December 24th, 2023, and January 28th, 2024.
Chris Iyama highlighted the heartbreaking nature of these incidents, occurring during a time when communities were preparing to celebrate Christmas. The perpetrators, labeled as enemies of humanity, spared no one, slaughtering women, children, and even newborns in the dead of night. What adds to the horror is the apparent lack of restraint from security agencies, allowing the attacks to continue unabated for hours.
Equity International vehemently condemned these unprovoked attacks on humanity, emphasizing that there is no justification for the killing of innocent people in their sleep. The organization called on governments at all levels to take decisive actions in apprehending the perpetrators and ensuring they face the full force of the law.
Expressing concern over the apparent inability of the Plateau State Governor to command troops for arrests, the organization urged the National Assembly to expedite the creation of State Police. This, they argued, would empower governors to swiftly respond to security problems, given their role as the first respondents in such situations.
Equity International called for immediate measures to compensate communities whose property and farmlands were destroyed. The attacked communities, being among the largest farming communities in Plateau State and Nigeria, face severe implications for food security. The organization highlighted the urgency of addressing this issue to prevent scarcity in the coming days.
Expressing alarm over the apparent targeting of Christian communities and churches, Equity International deemed these attacks as attempts to systematically annihilate brethren in Plateau State. The organization urged security agencies to fulfill their responsibilities in protecting innocent and helpless citizens.
Despite federal government and security chief visits to affected areas, Equity International expressed disappointment at the lack of significant progress in improving security. Dismissing claims that the affected communities were inaccessible, the organization called for intensified efforts to secure the lives of those in underserved and under-protected communities.
The organization urged the federal government and security agencies to reclaim and secure all abandoned farmlands and homes. This, they argued, would encourage farmers who left their ancestral lands in fear to return and rebuild their communities.
Equity International’s statement was complemented by firsthand testimony from Comrade Sunday D. Dankaka, the National President of the Mwaghavul Youth Movement, criticizing the military’s unfounded assertions about the events in Mangu. Dankaka emphasized the need for a thorough investigation, refuting the military’s claim of Ebenezer Caleb’s death and providing detailed statistics on the extent of the devastation in Mangu, including casualties, injuries, and property damage.
Equity International called on the National Emergency Management Agency to intensify humanitarian support for affected communities. The organization also appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to demonstrate through actions the “Renewed Hope” promised to Nigerians, aiming for the restoration of relative peace in Plateau State.
Other community representatives at the press conference recounted harrowing attacks by herders, stressing the widespread impact of the violence and urging urgent protection and support. With tensions rising in Plateau State, the calls for swift action from civil society organizations and local leaders are intensifying, emphasizing the pressing need for a comprehensive and coordinated response to address the root causes of the conflict.