Christian leaders in Plateau State, represented by the Church Denominational Forum, have petitioned the Federal Government in Plateau State, represented by the Church Denominational Forum, have petitioned the Federal Government over the deaths of over 200 persons on the eve of Christmas in the Bokkos and Barkin Ladi local governments.
The leaders include Polycarp Lubo, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau; Stephen Panya, President of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA); Amos Mohzo, President of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN); Nkechi Nwosu, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Jos; and Gideon ParaMallam, among other prominent Christian leaders in the state.
Following a peace walk, the church leaders handed their petition to Governor Caleb Mutfwang yesterday in Jos, the state capital.
They requested the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, to support the proscription of militias accused of causing ongoing murders and damage on the Plateau.
The church leaders branded the Christmas Eve attacks as organised terrorism.
Dr. Steven Panyam, chairman of the forum and President of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), submitted the appeal to the governor, stating that the attacks were not only awful and irreprehensible, but also unfathomable.
“The timing of these killings on Christmas Eve and during Christmas celebrations has shown that the attackers had clear intentions and objectives, which were to target Christian communities, take them unawares and inflict maximum casualty on them.”
“Based on authenticated statistics released, in a recent press release by The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, dated December 29, 2023, with updated facts and statistics (January 7, 2024) provided by Mr. Philip Sati Julson, National President, Butura Development Association and Chairman of Bokkos Local Government Area Association of Chairmen of Community Development, which was further corroborated by Monday Kassah, Transition Chairman of Bokkos Local Government Area and Bishop Dr. Ayuba Matawal, the following is a breakdown of details:
“The total number of people massacred now stands at 212; internally displaced persons (IDPs) are estimated now to be about 15,000; 10 churches were burnt down: Baptist Dares, CAC Mbong, COCIN Maiyanga, COCIN Ndung, COCIN Tahore, CAC Lunghai, COCIN Ngha-Buk, and COCIN Church Hurum, and two others.
“All the 10 pastoriums were burnt down; four pastors of COCIN, CAC, Baptist, and Assemblies of God were killed in the attacks and a pastor’s wife and his five daughters were burnt to ashes in their house.
“A breakdown so far shows that 50 women, 20 children, and seven physically challenged persons were burnt in their homes – as they were unable to run – and 135 men were killed.
“The total number of vehicles, cars, and buses destroyed is 24; motorcycles destroyed or stolen are about 126 by the attackers.
“So far, this is one of the deadliest and most devastating attacks on the Plateau. The total number of houses burnt is about 301; 280 water pumps and 403 food barns (storage) were destroyed.”
The petition included ten demands from the church leaders.
It advocated for such attackers to be designated as terrorists, and that they and their sponsors be imprisoned and prosecuted if apprehended.
The religious leaders also advocated for the establishment of a North Central Development Commission.
Also, the Emir of Wase, Alhaji Muhammadu Sambo Haruna, has expressed concern about the amount of killings in Plateau State over the last two decades.
He suggested that they could be linked to previous presidents’ lack of political will to enact commissions of inquiry reports that would hold perpetrators accountable and punish them for their wrongdoings.
Haruna warned that if criminals were not held accountable, similar incidents would continue to fester.
The emir urged individuals in positions of leadership to take complete control of their activities in order to put an end to the country’s recent killings.
Haruna said while leading a team of the Muslim Ummah to Governor Mutfwang at the Government House to discuss the recent killings in the state.
He reassured the governor that Muslims in the state supported his administration under all conditions.