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Speech by the ECWA president and chairman denominational leaders on the Plateau and Vice president Rev. Stephen Baba Panya on the occasion of the peace walk in Plateau state organized by the forum and CAN, Plateau state chapter

Written by on January 8, 2024

We condemn the killings

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 9-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 (JUTH). At the Mbong community, the charred bodies of a woman and her S children and relatives set ablaze by the terrorists lie in the ruins of their burnt bedroom.

In a recent Press release by The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation dated December 29″ 2023 based on facts provided by Mr Philip Sati Julson, National President, Butura Development Association and Chairman, Bokkos LGA Association of Chairmen of Community Development which was further corroborated by Hon. Monday Kassah, Transition Chairman of Bokkos LGA, the following breakdown of people killed directly from the scenes of attacks by Districts was given: Butura (32 killed, one (1) person still missing); Mbar ( 29 killed); Mangor (44 killed with 50 injured and three (3) people still missing); Mazat (10 killed, these are Ron people located in Barkin Ladi LGA); Bokkos ( 29 killed); Tangur (6 killed); and Mushere (2 killed). The total number of people massacred in cold blood so far is about 160 and still! counting. Internally displaced People (IDPs) are estimated now to be about 15,000. Eight Churches were burnt down: Baptist, Dares; CAC Mbong; COCIN Maiyanga; COCIN Ndung; COCIN Tahor; CAC Longhair; COCIN, Ngha-buk and COCIN Church Hurum. All the Eight Pastoriums in the churches were also burnt down. Two Pastors of Baptist and Assemblies of God
were killed in the attacks.

A further breakdown shows that 110 men, 37 Women, 10 Children, and 3 physically challenged persons were burnt in their homes as they were unable to run. A total of 25 Villages were attacked in the well-coordinated military-style assault. The breakdown of the villages according to districts are as follows: Butura (4), Mbar (5), Tangur (4), Bokkos (6), Mushere (1), Mangor (4) and Mazat(1}. Total number of cars and buses destroyed (8), Motorcycles (27) while those stolen by the attackers were 2. The total number of houses burnt is about three hundred and one (301).

THE WORLD CONDEMNS THE KILLINGS

It is not surprising at all that these mindless, senseless and barbaric killings have attracted both local, national and global condemnations. World leaders and international Organisations such as the United Nations have condemned the killings. Pope Francis in his address during the Angelus Prayer on Sunday, December 31%, 2023, said: “Sadly, the celebration of Christmas In Nigeria was marred by serious violence in Plateau State, with many victims.” He prayed for the victims while also trusting that “God will deliver Nigeria from these horrors.” Similarly, The ECWA President also Speaking on behalf of ECWA and the entire Church Denominational Leaders on the Plateau issued a strong statement condemning the killings in very clear terms on 27″ December 2023, and called
for concrete action by Government authorities to bring the criminals to book.

OUR TEN-POINT DEMAND FOR PEACE

For many years, Christians in Plateau State have come under persistent attacks and killings without any decisive action taken to stop the killings. 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. We therefore make the following Ten Point demand:

  1. We call for timely intervention in the provision of emergency relief in terms of food, water, toiletries, sleeping materials and other such necessities. We appreciate the directive given by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to relevant Federal government agencies such as NEMA to mobilise and provide succour to the victims. We also commend the great effort of His Excellency, Governor Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang in not only outrightly condemning the attack, but also taking urgent concrete steps in providing food and other necessities to the
    displaced survivors in the {DP camps.
  2. We unequivocally and emphatically call for an end to these sustained attacks and killings on the Plateau and in Nigeria. We demand immediate justice for the innocent people of Bokkos, Mangu, Riyom, Bassa, Barkin Ladi and other affected communities.
  3. We commend His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for condemning the dastardly attacks in totality and directing security agencies to go after the culprits and bring them to justice. We note with great encouragement and hope that this is a marked departure from the lacklustre response of the Presidency and the Federal Government during similar attacks in the past. We therefore cail on security agencies to align with this new mindset and ensure that the criminals responsible for these heinous attacks are apprehended, prosecuted and brought to justice.
  4. We unanimously call on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as a matter of urgency, to initiate the process of officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for these mindless killings. They should be officially designated as terrorists. This will give the military the power to fully engage them as provided in the Terrorism Act of 2022. It is on record that in 2015, the Global Terrorism index (GTI) named the armed Fulani
    militias as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world. Nigeria must urgently act and treat them as such while also engaging other West African countries, through ECOWAS, to do the same thing. A regional approach, consensus and action have become extremely imperative to deal with the menace of the Fulani militias.
  5. We call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu through the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Barr. Caleb Muftwang, to provide adequate security for the 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bokkos who are today located in various temporary Camps and houses of relatives. All communities destroyed should be rebuilt and the displaced people relocated and resettled back in their ancestral homelands as soon as possible.

6, We call for an end to the intentional dispossession of land and the current land grabbing through militarization and the activities of these armed militias and bandits which have gone on for too long now in Plateau State. Records show that several indigenous villages have been over, the people displaced and some of these villages are currently being occupied by these armed militias. This sad reality and social tragedy must change. The displaced people should be resettled back to their ancestral lands and given adequate security.

  1. We demand an end to the intentional destruction of farm produce and cattle rustling which have become huge security issues. We urge His Excellency Governor Muftwang to look into this and find ways to tackle these issues once and for all. We also call for the construction of food barns which were burnt down with farm produce in the communities attacked. By implication, even if the survivors return to their communities, there would be no food left. Unless there is a timely intervention, the people will face hunger and starvation.
  2. We strongly appeal to the Federal Government to establish the North Central Development Commission (NCDC). This has become necessary following the frequent attacks and wanton destruction of lives and properties across the zone in the last decade. We recall that the militancy in the Niger Delta led to the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission. Similarly, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East has led to the establishment of the North East Development Commission. Therefore, the massive and unrelenting destruction of lives and properties in the Savannah belt region of the Middlebelt, which has witnessed continuous attacks and killings in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Niger States; and Southern Kaduna, make a strong case for the establishment of the North Central Development Commission (NCDC). This will help immensely in the rebuilding and rehabilitation process of the affected communities.
  3. We call on the Federal government of Nigeria to direct the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately commence the process of rebuilding the destroyed communities pending the establishment of the North Central Development Commission. A robust and comprehensive security architecture should be put in place to enable all displaced persons to return to their ancestral homes. We encourage the Federal government to solicit funding and other support from the AU, EU, and UN to provide massive humanitarian interventions as well as save the people from impending hunger due to the reality of food terrorism which has now become a potent weapon in the hands of the terrorists.
  4. We call for the release of all those alleged to have been arrested with legitimate self-defence implements such as Cutlasses, clubs, machetes, & and in the co . of protecting a. r communities in the aftermath of the attacks. Where such persons have been arrested as alleged, they should be immediately released because, it amounts to aggravating the pains of the people by security agencies who did not respond on time to protect the communities, to come belatedly and arrest those who are sacrificially and patriotically defending their communities from further attacks.

WITHOUT JUSTICE THERE CAN BE NO PEACE

it is pertinent to emphasize at this point that promoting peaceful co-existence must be complemented with the provision of adequate security, and predicated on justice, fairness and equity. Security personnel should be deployed across all the flashpoints in Plateau State to prevent a repeat of the Christmas massacres. However, the military must be well trained, equipped, motivated and allowed to carry out its job professionally without fear or favour. Since the military has admitted it cannot be everywhere at the same time, and given its involvement in many theatres of operation across the country, communities should be allowed to organise their self-defence
mechanisms to defend their communities from terrorist attacks while waiting for military intervention. Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) needs to be restructured and given a fresh mandate to ensure adequate protection of all communities. The existence of the military outfit cannot be justified if massive attacks and killings continue unabated on the Plateau. The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must do everything possible to prevent Nigeria from drifting into anarchy. People are no longer willing to stand aloof and allow terrorists to continue to slaughter them like animals.

OUR HOPE IS IN GOD

Our ultimate hope of deliverance and protection from this wickedness and evil is in God, and we look up to Him for divine intervention. We therefore call on Christians to keep praying and never give up as our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ taught us in Luke 18. In the fullness of His time, God will deliver Plateau State, and His peace will once more reign for the advancement and progress of Plateau State. The gates of hell shall not prevail against Plateau in Jesus’ name. God bless Plateau State! God bless Nigeria! In Jesus mighty name!!!

SINGED

Rev (Dr) Stephen Baba Panya ECWA President, CAN, Chairman, Plateau State
Head, Plateau State Church denomination Leaders CAN Vice President

Very Rev. Father Polycarp Lubo
CAN, Chairman Plateau State


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