This is not the best of times for Plateau State as the people have constantly been facing terror attacks from suspected Fulani militia.
These attacks have been there since 2010 when the ethnoreligious crisis between native Christians and the settler-Hausa community of Jos North had receded.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicts in Jos North in September 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2010, which recorded the loss of lives and property.
However, the Dogon Nahawa massacre of 2010 where a whole community was wiped out by Fulani militia marked a watershed in the prolonged and sustained campaign of bloodshed on the Plateau.
Plateau State has suffered losses that are indirectly connected to these conflicts.
For instance, early this year, a 200 level student of the University of Maiduguri, Ropvil Dalyep, was abducted and gruesomely murdered by ISWAP elements in Sambisa forest.
The murderers claimed he was murdered as a revenge to the alleged killing of Hausas during the Jos crises. Suffice it to say, the ISWAP is largely made up of the Hausa-Fulani, while the Shekau-led Boko Haram is made up of Kanuri elements. Therefore, the murder of Dalyep underscores the long-existing animosity between the Hausa-Fulani and native tribes on the Plateau.
Since then, Christians and particularly persons of Plateau origin have been the target of kidnappers and terrorists along the dangerous Maiduguri road.
Today, these attacks are targeted at residents of Jos and environs and not only are the terrorists involved, but the security operatives are also, unfortunately, wanting in this aspect.
Just a week ago, a 300 level-20-year-old student of the University of Jos, Rinji Peter Bala, was wasted by a security operative’s bullet, on trumped-up charges.
The state had hardly recovered from the grief when it met another shocker.
On Friday 15th May, 2020, some gunmen visited the senior staff quarters of the University of Jos and shot dead a lecturer of the Faculty of Education, Dr Nendi Drengkat.
The gunmen also went away with his little daughter of about six years and asked for N10 million ransom.
The combined efforts of the police, vigilantes and local hunters, engaged the terrorists on the Naraguta mountains and as a result, the six-year-old was rescued and one of them was arrested.
Much earlier than that, armed assailants, reportedly of Fulani origin, broke into the family home of Rev. Canon Bayo James Famonure, headmaster of Messiah College and leader of Calvary Mission (CAPRO) and Agape Missions and shot him in the forehead and leg. His wife Naomi was shot in the back, and their sons Adua and Victor were shot in the feet, after which the assailants fled the area.
The family was later carried to hospital in the Plateau state capital, where Mrs Famonure underwent surgery to remove a bullet in her back, which had fortunately missed her spinal cord and other internal organs by inches. Also, the bullets fired at the Rev. Canon had not penetrated his forehead or hit the bone in his leg.
On 3 May, four members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) were ambushed and killed by Hausa-Fulani assailants as they travelled by motorcycle from Kwall village to Miango Town in Plateau state.
These are a few cases that are worth mentioning, but native tribes of the central and northern zone of the state have suffered sustained attacks from Fulani militias that have claimed thousands of lives and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
It is noteworthy that there is little confidence in the security operatives by the people. In all these attacks, the people are highly critical of the role of the security operatives to protect them, with some natives accusing them of collusion with those militias.
However, following the latest attacks, the Nigeria Police in Plateau State, led by Commissioner of Police Edward Chuka Egbuka, has solicited for useful information from members of the public to aid in the arrest of the fleeing suspects.
It would be worth the while to say that, Plateau state has the most clement weather condition in the country, that is suitable for raising of livestock. It also produces some of the rare exotic crops in the country and has a serene landscape to the envy of other states. It is indeed a tourist’s haven!
Though largely rocky in topography, it is blessed with lush vegetation and natural water sources that seem to be the attraction of herders and dry season farmers. The general perception is that the major attraction for nomadic farmers and itinerant farmers from the far north who would not want to move an inch once they found themselves there.
Though the Fulanis and Hausas have lived alongside the natives from the colonial era, there had never been any need for conflict because of land, until the present era when land became scarce as a result of population explosion on the Jos Plateau plains.
Another theory is that the Muslim Hausa-Fulani have an agenda to take over the State which is mainly Christian.
Indeed, the long history of Christian missionaries on the Jos Plateau has left an indelible legacy for all to see. Several international missionaries, both old and new have their mission stations in Jos.
Therefore, these factors; competition for land, the role of the security operatives, the alleged secret agenda of some persons to take over the land as well as the political will of the government, would certainly be issues of contention if the issue of insecurity on the Jos Plateau is to be resolved.
Below:( 1) Rinji Peter Bala, killed by a security operative. (2) One of the arrested Kidnapper/terrorist (Ali Mohammed) responsible for the killing of the lecturer.