The Baptist Conference in Plateau State on Saturday cried out that 62 of its members were killed in eight months and challenged President Bola Tinubu’s administration and Governor Caleb Mutfwang-led state government to address the incessant attacks and killings in the state.
The President of the Plateau Baptist Conference, Rev. Koeleh Saleh, who gave the charge during the church’s 47th Annual Conference, which ended in Jos on Saturday, revealed that over 62 members of his church, including pastors and their children, were killed during the various attacks that occurred in several communities in Mangu and Bokkos LGAs of the state within the past eight months.
At the conference attended by several dignitaries, including Governor Mutfwang, Saleh recounted the frequent attacks on Baptist churches and the killing of their members, noting that in Mangu LGA alone, 33 of his church members were killed on May 15 and 16, 2023, while eight others died shortly afterward after their displacement on account of hardship and illness.
He further noted that during the attack on Hirpia, a Christian community in Bokkos LGA, on June 15, 2023, an additional five church members, including the wife and two children of Rev. Emmanuel Makama who is the pastor of Nasara Baptist church in the community, were murdered.
According to him, besides several lives lost and those that were wounded, the destruction and economic dislocations caused by the attacks were monumental.
He noted that the invaders have continued to graze freely in the deserted communities without any challenge.
He said: “In Mangu LGA, we lost 33 members to attacks on May 15, 2023, besides eight persons who died after their displacement on account of hardship and illness.
“Among the slain was the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, Rev. Mangmos Tangshak, who was also the Moderator of Albarka Baptist Association and one of his church deacons.
“Besides the destruction and looting of member houses, the Baptist churches that were destroyed during this attack included Alheri Baptist Church, Jwak-Maitumbi, Alheri Baptist church, Kwaghaskipanglang, Godiya Baptist church, Changal and Shiloh Baptist church, Kombili.
“This was followed by another attack on Sabongari on July 7, 2023. The attack led to the desertion of the community and then the Christmas Eve attacks on 15 communities in Bokkos LGA on December 24, 2023. The Baptist churches affected include Nasara Baptist church where 11 persons were killed among whom was Pastor Philemon Gushe. Members’ houses including the pastorium were burnt down and the church auditorium was vandalised.
“In Chiran village where over 40 persons were slaughtered in cold blood, we lost five members of Kauna Baptist church. The church pastor, Rev. Jonah Joseph, narrowly escaped with his four-year-old son who was macheted on the head but miraculously survived. While we were still nursing the wounds of the Christmas Eve attacks, the murderous militia invaded Mangu town in January 2024 killed several people and set churches ablaze.
“In all, we lost over 62 of our church members in various attacks by murderous militia in Mangu and Bokkos communities within the past eight months alone. Indeed, our country Nigeria, has been through hard times.
Saleh regretted that the insecurity in the land kept escalating rather than abating.
He said that was why the church was calling on “President Bola Tinubu and the Plateau State Government to do something urgently in this regard towards saving the lives and properties of the people.”
On his part, Mutfwang acknowledged the security challenges being faced in the state, noting the contribution of the Baptist church in preaching peaceful coexistence among the citizens despite the unprovoked and sustained attacks.