A “thanksgiving” service was on Sunday held in Nigeria’s northcentral Plateau State in remembrance of the victims of June 23, 2018, attacks in Barkin Ladi local government area, where over 200 persons were murdered by assailants, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen
The number of persons killed in Gashish Community alone was put at 188, the President of Gashish Development Association, Mr. Francis Chong, told Sky News Africa.
Chong said, the essence of the “Thanksgiving” was to honour their fathers, mothers, children and pastors who through their exemplary virtue of hardwork in their various fields of endeavour were murdered.
According to him, Gashish which was the worst hit by the attacks, lost 188 people, cutting across ten villages, out of which 113 of them were children, 47 women, 25 men and 3 of them were pastors.
Chong thanked the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), whom he said have supported the displaced persons dearly.
Also at the remembrance service was a Nigerian Senator representing Plateau North at the country’s National Assembly, Hon. Istifanus Gyang, who appealed to government to vacate those illegally occupying homes of displaced attacked victims.
This according to him should be done to allow the ‘rightful’ owners of the communities to return home, in line with the Federal Government’s resettlement plan.
He said, “We are here today to appreciate God, to say to God, thank you; inspite of the very horrendous and very painful developments that have happened in this land for over two decades.
“For over twenty years, this land has been witnessing all form of attacks; but the miracle of this land is that there are people still leaving in it.
“Given what has happened in this land that in one day over 500 people will be killed, in another day over 200 killed, also in a day over 100; not to talk of those lesser numbers which happens day in, day out”, he lamented.
He added that the killings in the zone has not spare the lower or high in the society, recalling that a Senator and Member of the State House of Assembly, Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Fulani were also killed by these assailants.
He maintained that he and his colleagues are in attendance of the thanks giving, because the Bible says “in all situation” there should be thanks giving.
“We that are standing before you have a responsibility, our responsibility is to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of this country.
“If there is anything that has challenged this country, is that the peace of this country has been severely threatened; and if there is anywhere that you have that experience, it is in Plateau State.
According to Gyang, “While these things were happening in Plateau State, if Nigeria had responded appropriately, if we had not allowed sentiments and prejudice to determine the response of the government of Nigeria, the issue would have been tackled from Plateau and it would have not spread to other parts of Nigeria.
“That because Nigeria allowed prejudice and sentiments to dictate the response of government to the cries of vulnerable communities; today no part of the country especially in the north is spared from this evil.
The Lawmaker stressed that security of lives and property is the primary responsibility of government.
“Wherever this kind of evil thing is happening, we will continue to make this call until government secures every citizen in this country.
“And it is clear that most of those that are carrying out this evil activities in Nigeria are crossing from across our borders and being reinforced by some of the elements within”, he further lamented.
“We therefore welcome the call and the decision that is already been taken for States to be empowered to have their own police, so that governments at the state can take care of the security of their people, without waiting for Federal Police that is overstretched; the Federal security, even the army is overstretched.
He said establishment of state police will enhance community vigilance, resilience and to secure communities.
The Lawmaker call on the people of Plateau North Senatorial District and the entire State, to stand as one indivisible entity for the good of the state.
“If Nations like Rwanda were able to reconcile themselves, and today Rwanda has become a leading nation in Africa; in every aspect, Rwanda is an example of how a people can reconcile and peace can be restored.
In his remarks, Chairman, Regional Church Council (RCC) of COCIN, Rev. Dauda Jakawa, said, “It is a day of mixed feelings, it is a day that the Lord has made, that we may remember him and give him thanks in every situation.
“And as a Church, we pray that God will be your comfort and strength in the name of Jesus Christ.
He called on government to remember its promise to resettle the Gashish community, and also reminded government of its promise to build a mobile barracks at the aforementioned community.