No fewer than 13 persons were confirmed killed when armed Fulani invaded six Berom villages in Riyom Local Government of Plateau State.
Riyom is one of the four local governments under the state of emergency in Plateau and has been under frequent attacks by armed Fulani within the past two weeks.
Those killed between Monday night and yesterday morning, were from Tahoss, Bangai, Sopp, Angwa Werem, Danjol and Gwom.
Residents of the villages have fled their homes to take refuge at police stations and primary schools in Riyom, headquarters of the council area.
A resident of Gwarim village, Dauda Gyang, who lost his younger brother in the night raid, said: “Fulanis came in large number. Their mode of attack is that they will start shooting from distance to scare the villagers and as soon as the villager run out of fear, they will come and set our houses ablaze. From my village alone they burnt more than ten houses last night”
Gyang said, “I swear to God, these Fulanis who are attacking us are doing this in collaboration with men of the Special Task Force (STF). In the day time, the soldiers will come and raid our village and seize dane guns from villagers and at night the armed Fulanis will come in for attack; this is what has been happening for about two weeks now.
“Last weekend, a mobile police shot one youth three times and the guy died. The mobile officer called it accidental discharge. How can you shoot three times and call it accidental discharge?“
When The Nation visited one of the primary schools in Tahoss, no fewer than 200 displaced persons mostly women and children were there.
A former member of the Plateau State House of Assembly from the area, Emmanuel Jugul, said: “Governments at the federal and state level are not doing enough to protect its citizens. It is bloodletting everyday in Riyom and we have government shoulder with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties.
“Apart from government, the security agencies in charge of the area are not sincere. It is either they are not doing their job, or they are conspiring with the attackers, because they securities did nothing to stop the killings and the council is under state of emergency.”
STF Spokesman Capt. Mdhayelyah Markus, who confirmed the incident, said he was not aware anyone was killed. He said houses were burnt.
Markus said: “As a result of the incident, the STF commander has mobilised troops from other places as reinforcement to Sector 9 so as to be able to handle the situation. The commander himself has visited the area and addressed the refugees. He asked them to return to their houses with promise of adequate security. So, we are in control in the area.”
However, the lawmaker representing Riyom Constituency in the House of Assembly, Daniel Dem, told The Nation on phone: “The crisis is affecting my constituency directly. The truth is that five people were killed in the night raid, several others who sustained injuries from gunshots are receiving treatment in various hospitals. There are thousands of displaced persons whose houses were set ablaze.
“I cried to the security agencies on ground and they were telling me there is nothing they can do to stop the attackers because they are short of man power while the attackers are coming in hundreds.”
Dem appealed to the Federal Government to send in more troops to salvage the situation. He said: “This is beyond the state government because Riyom is currently under the state of emergency; the Federal Government should show more commitment in saving lives”
Sunday Madaki, one of the displaced persons, said the state lawmaker only counted the corpses in one village. He said: “From the list of casualties I have from all the six villages, there are 13 people killed already and over 20 others who were injured are in the Vom Christian Hospital and over thirty residential houses have been burnt. All these displaced persons have no home to return to.”