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Plateau: Over 30 killed, houses burnt as gunmen defy curfew

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•Group alleges compromise by security agencies

Recall that Governor Caleb Mutfwang had declared a 24-hour curfew in Mangu, following the deteriorating security situation in the area, stressing that only persons on essential duties were allowed to move within the local government until further notice.

However, despite the curfew, gunmen stormed Kwahaslalek and its environs, killing more man 30 persons and destroying several houses and worship centres.

At the time of this report, the Sabon Layi area was the worst affected, as houses, worship centres and business premises were been razed, as citizens accused soldiers of aiding the carnage.

Though no information official confirmation, at the time of this report, a survivor, Hosea Ibrahim, said the skirmish at Mangu town was a decoy for the attack on the Kwahaslalek Community, not far from the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, permanent orientation camp at Jakatai, Mangu LGA.

According to him: “What happened at Sabon Gari and Mangu, on Tuesday, was just a distraction, so that people’s attention will be shifted away from the villages. For the second time, my village, Kwahaslalek (behind NYSC camp), was attacked at about 12.30am, leaving over 30 people, mostly women and children, dead, as houses were burnt and some persons left with gunshot wounds.
“At about midnight there was sporadic gunshots and women ran to one compound for safety. Unfortunately, the terrorists went there and killed them, while the men were keeping vigil outside the community. The victims were killed at a community leader’s house, where they ran for refuge. The Mairana, Kinat and other communities in Mangu Halle District, and those on the borders of Mangu and Barkin Ladi Local government areas are deserted now.”

However, a security personnel who preferred anonymity said, “Mangu town is calm but we were called in the early hours of today (yesterday) about a development around the communities close to the NYSC camp. Our people are there but the deed had been done. A lot of people were killed. The victims are mostly women and children. They had run to hide there because they thought the place was far and the attackers would not go there. But the attackers were conveyed in a vehicle and dropped there before they attacked.”

Other security personnel who also preferred anonymity confirmed the alleged complicity of some of his colleagues saying, “We tried to enter the communities at about 10 am but we could not because of the fire power. Some of us had to confront some of our colleagues from a sister agency because of the perceived bias attitude from them. We are security personnel, we have to keep sentiment aside and help where we can but when one arm gives the impression of bias, how do we solve the people?”

Meanwhile, the Convener, the Initiative for a Better and Brighter Nigeria, IBBN, Prophet Isa El-Buba has called for an urgent action against insecurity saying, “Security developments in Nigeria have remained alarming and worrying.”

MDA’s Director of Public Affairs, Lawrence Kyarshik, in a statement said, ” The MDA is saddened by the current breakdown of law and order in Mangu town which begun on Monday 22nd and continued on Wednesday 24th January 2024 without any resistance from the Security. This unfortunate event is currently going on under the watchful eyes of the military who have failed to give protection to law abiding residents of Mangu.

“The Governor in a swift reaction to curtail the situation imposed a 24-hour curfew in Mangu Local Government only for the Fulani Jihadists to unleash mayhem on Kwahaslalek leaving over 30 people dead, houses completely razed down and properties including food items destroyed with fire. One then wonders how these criminals operated without any resistance from the security personnel already deployed in the Local Government.

“Sadly enough, security alert received on Monday 22nd had shown that there is pending attacks in Mangu and other places, yet these carnages went on unhindered. As if that is not enough, even within Mangu, the Muslims took advantage of the curfew to burn down houses, killing unsuspected persons and destroying properties and Churches.

“The MDA frowns at the activities of some of the military personnel who appear to be complacent in carrying the constitutional duties they swore to protect all citizens of the country irrespective of tribe and religion. Eye witness report has it that while the military send our people away, they watch the Muslims burn down houses seamlessly.

“We are losing confidence in the military each passing moment because their actions are clear that they have taken side. Consequently, we wish to demand for complete withdrawal of the military to be replaced with MOPOLS and NSCDC as the roles of the military in this conflict is highly suspicious.

At the moment our people are left at the mercy of God and the little they can do in self defense. The Mwaghavul nation and Christians in Mangu have coexisted peacefully with Muslims in Mangu for decades. Most of them are even our brothers who have also married our daughters. They have allowed bad elements to settle amongst them and used them against their own brothers and sisters. Remember, if you are a Mwaghavul Muslim and love Mangu LGA, you will not conspire with evil people against us.”

Similarly, the leadership of the Plateau Youth Council, PYC, called for the review of the security strategy and implementation to stem the tide of insecurity.

Chairman of PYC Mangu LGA, Dapip Stanley, among others, said “It is a disheartening to witness the lack of efficient response from the security personnel (military) in Mangu LGA. This inaction and failure to effectively address the deteriorating situation has resulted in a massive loss of confidence in their ability to protect and ensure the safety of the communities

“The continued brutality towards innocent residents by the military personnel, coupled with the lack of intervention from the security personnel, is not only exacerbating the current crisis but also creating an atmosphere of fear and helplessness among the populace residents of Mangu LGA.

On its part, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI in the state condemned the resurgence of violence in the Mangu town.

The Secretary of JNI in the state, Salim Umar, said “We call on the government and security agencies to intensify their efforts in securing the lives and properties of the inhabitants of Mangu and other flash points. All concerned should also do everything possible to prevent any possible escalation. Security agents should be on the lookout for possible infiltrators. All hands must be on deck and by all relevant stakeholders to restore peace and order in Mangu LGA and other affected communities. Peace is priceless. We all must strive to restore sanity in an open and unbiased manner by all stakeholders.”

Mutfwang declares 24-hr curfew in Mangu as tension erupts

Also yesterday, Governor Caleb Mutfwang declared a 24-hour curfew in Mangu local government area of the state, following the deteriorating security situation in the area, stressing that only persons on essential duties were allowed to move within the local government area until further notice.

Recall that early yesterday morning, armed men attacked some communities in the local government area, shooting and burning property, though it could not be readily confirmed the number of lives lost and those injured.

However, Vanguard gathered that those injured were conveyed to undisclosed hospitals in the area.

A resident, Ephraim Ishaya, said: “It started yesterday when a young man and woman were attacked by terrorists near the Mangu bridge. The matter was reported to the military at the check point, no action was taken.

”Mangu youths reacted, which led to reprisal from Muslim residents in Mangu. Houses were burned down, with gunshots all over the town.”

”Two worship centres (one Church and one Mosque) were burnt,” a security personnel who did not want to be named said.
Another resident, Josephine Habila, said: “The Church of Christ In Nations, COCIN Sabo Kaswa, and a Mosque at the Dawo area of Mangu were burnt.”

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