Press Release on the Genocide against Defenceless Rural Dwellers of Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State Which Occurred on 23-24 June, 2018
We are deeply pained over the massacre of hundreds of innocent defenceless residents of villages in Barkin Ladi on 23rd and 24th June 2018. Although the exact number of casualties has so far ranged from 100 to over 200, based on actual on-the-scene pictures circulating on social media, among the victims were unarmed men and women, including children of pre-nursery and kindergarten ages.
These egregious acts were perpetrated by heavily armed militia who carried out their dastardly acts for hours, with impunity. They razed villages to the ground and caused shocking human and material catastrophe. These enemies of humanity continued to unleash mayhem even while the Vice President, Mr. Yemi Osibanjo was visiting the State.
In the same way, the Fulani ethnic militia has continuously carried out their murderous activity on the defenceless people of Miango, this is in spite of the proximate presence of a military barrack in the locality and the special task force (operation safe haven). Also, in Dorowa Babuje, these nomadic merchants of death laid siege once again on 25th June 2018 leaving behind the trail of death and misery, even as killings are still ongoing.
We condemn these killings in the strongest possible terms. Civilised human societies have long established peaceful means for conducting human relations. Resort to these unconscionable acts of human cruelty should not be condoned by right thinking members of the civilised world. We also condemn previous attacks on defenceless communities across Plateau which have gone on unaddressed to date, thereby emboldening the aggressors to continue in their inhumanities as if aided by the inaction of government.
We decry the further dehumanization of victims, even in death. In particular, the hurried manner in which many of the over 200 innocent victims of these barbaric onslaughts were massively buried in shallow, unmarked graves adds credence to the lack of importance the government places on a plateau life. We note with utmost sense of dismay that no member of the Plateau State Government attended the burial, affirming the palpable disdain and indignities levied on the beleaguered peoples of the State. We call on government to humanize the victims – both the dead and the wounded.
For the wounded in urgent need of medical attention, a team of first or subsequent responders and medical aid workers should be dispatched to their locations. We ought to begin to respond to the victims in a way that shows that human lives are sacred, that human lives matter even in cases of such avoidable and unfortunate inhumanity.
In light of the above, and considering that security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government, we call on government both at the State and Federal level to:
1. Provide immediate medical support, provisions, supplies and temporary shelter/base with basic facilities to all affected persons and 24 HOUR NEUTRAL MILITARY PRESENCE.
2. Live up to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.
3. Put an end to the culture of impunity by apprehending, disarming and prosecuting the perpetrators (and their sponsors) of these and previous unaddressed massacres carried out by the suspected ethnic militia/mercenaries often euphemistically called “Herdsmen”.
4. Arrest and prosecute those whom have claimed responsibility for these and other attacks.
5. Identify the problem for what it is and stop calling it “herder/farmer clash”. In the first place, these murderers are not herders. And little children of pre-primary age are not farmers! These atrocities are a guerrilla-styled siege on the Defenceless Poor of our rural communities and such attacks cannot, in all honesty, be described as a clash.
6. Reclaim the ancestral land forcefully taken by the Fulani Ethnic Militia who are ostensibly serving as army of occupation. Government is urged to reclaim, rebuild and resettle persons displaced from their homes.
7. Facilitate/allow communities to form vigilante groups (Civilian JTF) to protect themselves as self-defence is legal and recognised under international law.
If government continues to abandon defenceless, law abiding citizens at the mercy of nomadic gun-wielding merciless-mercenaries on the prowl, the inevitable result would be a state of anarchy where might is right and self-help is the norm. We therefore reiterate our call on government to act quickly and decisively as failure to do so, would leave us with no choice than to conclude that this government cannot meet its constitutional responsibility. In such circumstance, we shall resort to impartial, just and fair means of seeking help from both local and international community.
We condole with the families and communities that have lost dear ones to these orgy of violence.
May God bless and preserve Plateau State.