There was palpable confusion in Jos, Plateau State on Wednesday as unknown gunmen again attacked Yelwa-Zangam, a community behind the University of Jos, in Jos North Local Government Area of the state, killing more than 35 persons.
The latest killings reportedly threw the city of Jos into a state of confusion, as the people of the community threw caution to the wind to ensure their safety, thereby causing tension in the city.
Parents and guardians, it was learnt, hurriedly withdrew their children/wards from schools, even as shops were shut immediately, and shop owners scampered for the safety for fear of escalation of the already tensed situation.
The community members, it was also learnt, angrily conveyed the remains of the 35 people in a truck to the Government House and deposited them there with the gesture to the state Governor, Simon Lalong, to bury them.
They accused him of compromise and complacency in the face of continuous onslaught on the people of the state.
As the people became unruly and undermined security agents, the governor consequently and immediately re-imposed the 24-hour curfew on Jos, which had earlier been relaxed this week.
Lalong said the measure was to contain the growing tension arising from the attack on Yelwa Zangam community, where the people were killed and property destroyed.
In a statement signed by his Director of Press, Simon Macham, the governor stated that the proactive decision (re-imposing the curfew) became necessary following imminent threat to lives and property in Jos North LGA and the need to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
He said the action would also enable security agencies deploy in the area to appropriately maintain security as the search for the attackers of the villagers continued.
Appealing to people, Lalong urged them to cooperate with his government by “abiding by the 24-hour curfew order commencing from 4p.m. yesterday, as security agencies have been mandated to ensure that those who violate the curfew are arrested.
“Also, the 6p.m-to-6a.m. curfew in Jos South and Bassa LGAs still remains in place until further notice. Only those on essential duties such as health personnel, journalists, fire service and para-military members and others are exempted from the curfew order, but should move around with their means of identification at all times.”
The governor sued for calm, saying he is seriously grieved by the attacks, but urged the equally grieving people to show restraint and allow the government to handle the matter-to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the unfortunate situation to cause more mayhem and destruction.
Eyewitnesses in the bereaved community said the armed men invaded the community at about 9 p.m. last Tuesday and raided for many hours without any help from security agents; shooting and maiming everyone on sight.
They also burnt houses and destroyed everything in the community,” they said.
The attackers had reportedly destroyed the bridge leading to the community thereby preventing any possible access for help, before launching the attacks on the people.
In the aftermath of the attack, no fewer than 35 bodies were recovered. Houses were burnt with the occupants in them; an entire family was burnt alive in their house, while those who attempted to escape into nearby bushes were shot dead by some of the assailants that laid an ambush. Several persons sustained fatal gunshot wounds and are being treated at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and Bingham University Teaching Hospital.
Yelwa-Zangam is Dominated by Christian Anaguta Natives.
Also confirming the attack on the phone, the Paramount Ruler of the Anaguta, Ujah Johnson Jauro, said: “It is true! I have been informed that gunmen attacked my people last night, with many casualties. But we are still investigating the situation to know what really happened.”
Meanwhile, the Special Task Force on Jos crisis, Operation Safe Haven, has said its efforts to rescue the community were impeded by the destruction of the bridge leading into the area by the attackers.
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Major Ishaku Takwa, the military taskforce said: “The troops eventually got to the scene of the attack by navigating through other villages and met some houses already burnt and casualties recorded. Troops are now in pursuit of the killers.”
Condemning the attack, the Senator representing Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, described the development as disturbing.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Musa Ashoms, the senator said: “On the night of last Tuesday, terror was visited on Yelwan Zangam of Anaguta community in Jos North, with over 35 persons killed, some of whom were burnt beyond recognition.
”Senator Gyang is gravely disturbed and outraged by the serial and continuing terror attacks on communities in Plateau State with thousands of lives brutally massacred over the years and still continuing.”
The statement added that “the situation on the Plateau is that of a people abandoned to their fate by the federal government. No sympathy, no empathy, no attention, and no relief to the affected communities. No statement and outcry from the appropriate quarters on the latest massacre at Yelwan Zangam in Jos.”
It noted that Gyang is against threats to the life of every Nigerian, adding that: “No citizen should be made to suffer or lose his or her life simply on the basis of ethnicity or religion. It is, therefore, disheartening that the Plateau people are targeted, isolated and deemed good only to be attacked and killed.”
Calling on the government to demonstrate sincerity in securing the lives of all citizens, the lawmaker said all hands must be on deck to ensure necessary and decisive actions are taken to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators, as well as ensure that the lives and livelihoods of all law-abiding citizens are protected.
Also condemning the attack, the Senator representing Plateau South in the Senate, Professor Nora Dadu’ut, called on law enforcement agencies to be swift at apprehending the perpetrators. She described the attack as “man inhumanity to man, adding that: “We must work to ensure lasting peace in the state.”
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos