July 11th, 2012
Rather than abate and in spite of the security arrangement in place, the Plateau crisis is assuming a frightening dimension. Gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen yesterday attacked Matse and Shong villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom councils, resulting in death toll rising to 140 abandoned bodies.
Last Sunday, Senator Gyang Dangtong and Plateau State Majority Leader, Gyang Fulani, were among the 104 people who died when the fresh attacks started last Saturday.
In fact, the two lawmakers died of exhaustion after they were about to give mass burial to about 63 people who lost their lives on Saturday. Also, the Senate was in sober mood yesterday when it adjourned plenary in honour of Senator Dangtong.
Confirming yesterday’s attacks, a member representing Riyom constituency in Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon Daniel Dem, said gunmen from the top of the mountains have attacked two more villages of Matse and Shong and reduced them to ruins with no house standing.
He said the gunmen sneaked in, in their usual way and began their sporadic shooting which scared the villagers who fled for their safety. The gunmen set the houses ablaze resulting in the residents joining a number of displaced people in the area.
The lawmaker said, “The Defence Headquarters and Force Headquarters need to intervene at this point to save lives. Because as I am talking to you now, those 140 corpses are still lying there without burial, we are still afraid of going back there”
He commended the Special Task Force (STF) in the state for their efforts; saying without them, this situation would have been worse. ‘They actually helped during the attack in Matse and while we were doing the burial.
They came there with their armoured tank and as the rest of us ran for safety, the STF shot from the armoured car twice, this scared the gunmen from coming after us. The lawmaker said: “If the STF had shown their superior power earlier than in Matse, the gunmen would not have attacked the people during the mass burial which led to the death of two legislators.
I wish the STF had acted faster than they did, but all the same, they deserved commendation and I am urging them to do more to help our people.” When contacted, the STF spokesman, Col. Salisu Mustapha, said he was yet to get the report of the fresh attacks.
In Abuja yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Senator Victor Lar, representing Plateau South, also declared that there is high-level conspiracy against the state.
Rather than head straight into the chamber, Senators were in no mood for any legislative business yesterday as they milled round the National Assembly lobby and took time to sign the condolence register placed strategically at the entrance of the chamber.
Senate President David Mark patiently waited for members to enter the chamber, for a session that was scheduled to start at 10:00am. But Senators preferred to discuss in groups outside the chamber and in hush tones, while some busied themselves, signing the condolence register.
Majority of the Senators who turned up for plenary were decked in black; even the Senate President’s light blue kaftan had a tinge of black. At 11:05am, Mark called the house to order. Thereafter, the Senate adopted its votes and proceedings of July 4.
Almost immediately, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, clad in a dark suit, moved two quick motions. One was for the chamber to observe a a minute’s silence in Dantong’s honour and the second was to adjourn for the day.
Said Ndoma-Egba: “On Sunday, July 8, this Senate, indeed, the entire nation, received the sad news of the unfortunate death of one of our own; a fine gentleman, a two-term Senator, former member of the House of Representatives and our Chairman of the Health Committee, Gyang Dalyop Dantong. “Today, being the first day of plenary after that sad event, I move two motions: one-we observe a minute’s silence and two, in keeping with our tradition, adjourn all Senate activities till Wednesday. I so move.”
Minority Leader George Akume seconded the motion. Upon adjournment, the Senate President led a formal procession to sign the condolence register. He later addressed newsmen and reiterated his call for dialogue.
He said: “We should never get tired of preaching that there should dialogue because that’s the only solution. Any other solution is not going to be a lasting solution. “My prayer is let the Senator’s death bring peace and unity to Plateau State in particular and Nigeria in general.
“He has become a sacrificial lamb now and his death will be in vain if we continue with this madness beyond this point.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu noted that it was unfortunate that Dantong was “consumed by the same conflict he was trying to avoid. I’m aware that he convened a meeting of stakeholders in Plateau State and I’m not certain whether that meeting took place before he died…” Former Plateau State governor and the Senator representing Plateau Central Joshua Dariye, described Dantong’s death as “very sad, we have been thrown into mourning…
“It is Plateau today, tomorrow it may not be Plateau. It is a big loss we must all rise up. It is not about religion we must close up our ranks. If we allow political sentiment to divide us one day we will wake up and there will be no republic. But Senator Lar was unequivocal when he declared that events in the state pointed to a high-level conspiracy.
“They said a state of emergency was declared, yet, more deaths had been recorded under the same security arrangement,” he said. Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government beefed up security yesterday to forestall any spill-over of the Plateau State bloodbath.
Major highways witnessing heightened security checks include, Kachia, Junction, Constitution, Ali Akilu and Mando roads as well as Nnamdi Azikiwe Eastern bypass, all leading to the city centre. The security checks resulted in traffic jam in many areas of the metropolis even as Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa forwarded a condolence message to the people and government of Plateau State. There is 6am to 7pm curfew in place following the recent deadly terror attacks on three churches in Kaduna and Zaria. SOURCE: www.sunnewsonline.com