Monday, March 8, 2010

Hundreds dead in religious violence in Nigeria

The government has since called for the arrest of Alhaji Saleh Bayeri, former executive secretary, Muslim Welfare Board and State Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association, accusing him of "issuing threats and inciting Fulani people against the Berom People which is unfortunate."The attack is coming at a time the Christian community in the state raised alarm over reports of renewed suicide attacks being planned for some selected churches in the state, as contained in a widely circulated documents yesterday.

A reliable government source told Daily Champion yesterday on phone that the attackers invaded the villages in the wee hours of the morning.

The source said that rumour of the attack filtered in at about 11pm and Jang took steps to nip it in the bud by informing the sectoral commander of the military joint patrol team in the area.

He said leader of the patrol team, an army captain identified as Goke, was reached on telephone and informed of the impending attack.

He however said that when the attack actually started, the joint patrol team could no longer be reached on telephone as every effort made by the state governor to speak to him failed.

He said Goke who led the team allegedly switched off his telephone forcing the governor to make alternative arrangement.

He said: "Rumours of the impending attack started coming in at about 11pm. When the governor heard it, he called the joint patrol team that is in the area. The team comprising the army and air force was being led by Goke who is the sectoral commander. He was briefed about the security situation and asked to mobilize from his location to the village.

"But some time after midnight, about 1am, people started calling from there that their village had been attacked and when the governor called the army captain to know where they were, his telephone was switched of. He could not be reached.

"The governor had to make an alternative arrangement and called another team from another location.

"But because this was happening in a village on the border with Bauchi State, before the team could actually find the place it was too late. We kept on calling and giving them direction until they got there. And when they got there they could only see burnt houses and dead people," the source told Daily Champion.

Asked about the casualty figures, the source said more than 400 were massacred in the attack. He said the attackers invaded the village from Bauchi State.

As at the time of filling this report, the morgue of the state specialist hospital where some of the corpses were deposited was filled to the brim. Chief Medical Director, Dr. Pam Dantong, who conducted journalists round the place, said the injured are receiving treatment in the institution.

Meanwhile, a document was circulated in churches during yesterday's service warning the congregation of planned suicide attacks on selected churches by 15 almajiris, who were said to have agreed to volunteer on suicide missions to benefit after being promised N20m gift each.

The document, entitled, "unanimous decision of Muslim Ummah in Northern Nigeria towards the crisis in Plateau State," was not signed or dated, but has as one Alhaji Sanusi Ibrahim Das as conveyor.

Those who saw the contents of the document which told our correspondent that the Islamic Bank and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), would bank role the mission, even as part payment was said to have been made to the volunteers.

Commenting on the attack, the state Commissioner of Information and Communication, Hon. Gregory Yenlong, regretted that it was a serious security challenge to the government and that government was reviewing its security machinery.

He said: "it is unfortunate that a whole family has been wiped out even when there is curfew in place in the area and appealed for calm on the part of the people, assuring that the government would do everything possible to get to the roots of the attacks."

On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Jos, the Gbong Gwom Jos said the attack was a crime against humanity and the traditional rulers in the state would make an official representation to the federal government.

He wondered why the attack could come at a time relative peace was being restored in the state and efforts are made to receive notable leaders who are billed to appear and discuss on peace building in the state.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Bayeri has expressed surprise over the state government's claims that he was inciting his Fulani kinsmen.

Speaking in a phone interview, he said since the January crisis, he has been going round appealing to his people against reprisal attacks, saying the government was not fair to him, adding that in any case, this was not the time to join issues with anyone.

Daily Champion

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Resurgence of religious riots in Nigeria

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