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CAN Leads Protest Against Plateau Killings



EASTER: Govs, CAN, Others Preach Tenacity, Sacrifice, Hope

The Christian Association of Nigeria on Monday led protests over continuous killings in Plateau State and other parts of the country.

The ongoing protest tagged “Plateau Peace Walk”, is being led by the state CAN chairman, Rev Polycarp Lubo, ECWA President, Rev Dr Stephen Baba Panya, COCIN President, Rev Dr Amos Mohzo, Bishop of Methodist church, Jos; Rev Nkechi Nwosu; President, Gideon and Funmi-ParaMallam Peace Foundation, Rev. Dr Gideon ParaMallam among other prominent Christian leaders in the state.

The protesters who were all dressed in black attires started the peace walk at the PRTVC Roundabout in Jos, around 9:30 am and headed to the Rayfield Government House where they were received by top government officials, including the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang.

Chairman of the Denominational Leaders Forum in Plateau state and National Vice President of CAN, Reverend Stephen Baba Panya, in a protest letter he handed over to the governor for onward delivery to President Bola Tinubu, said that Christians and people of Plateau state were not happy over the continued attacks and killings in the state.

Panya, who recalled how villagers in their communities, including children were brutally murdered in their homes during the Christmas Eve attacks noted that for many years, Christians in Plateau State had come under persistent attacks and killings without any decisive action taken to stop the killings.

He said a situation whereby the military and other security agents had failed to protect the people against terror attacks and at the same time would not allow the victims to defend themselves against the invasion of their communities is the height of injustice against the people.

Calling on the President to take drastic action to deal with the situation, Panya particularly called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as a matter of urgency, to initiate the process of officially proscribing the armed terrorist militias responsible for the mindless killings.

He also called for the release of all those alleged to have been arrested with legitimate self-defence implements such as Cutlasses, clubs, and machetes, and in the course of protecting their communities in the aftermath of the attacks.

He said, “The entire Christian community in Plateau State once again condemns in the strongest terms the unprovoked, wicked, satanic and genocidal killings of innocent and harmless Christians on Christmas Eve in over 20 communities in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

“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 so far, this is one of the deadliest and most devastating attacks on the Plateau.

“These attacks were not only Horrific and Reprehensible but Incomprehensible. For example, Veronica Malan, a nursing mother was shot through her stomach and the bullet pierced her abdomen and passed through the stomach and back of her 9-month-old baby boy, Godwin.

“To ensure that they were both dead, they were slaughtered along with 23 others, mostly women in their hideout in Chirang, Mangur District. A three-year-old baby girl was shot point blank and still lies critically ill at the Jos University Teaching Hospital.

“At the Mbong community, the charred bodies of a woman and her S children and relatives set ablaze by the terrorists lie in the ruins of their burnt bedroom.

Continuing, he said, “In a recent Press release by The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation dated December 29, 2023, based on facts provided by Mr Philip Sati Julson, National President, Butura Development Association and Chairman, Bokkos LGA Association of Chairmen of Community Development which was further corroborated by Monday Kassah, Transition Chairman of Bokkos LGA, the following breakdown of people killed directly from the scenes of attacks by Districts was given:

“Butura (32 killed, one (1) person still missing); Mbar (29 killed); Mangor (44 killed with 50 injured and three (3) people still missing); Mazat (10 killed, these are Ron people located in Barkin Ladi LGA); Bokkos ( 29 killed); Tangur (6 killed); and Mushere (2 killed). The total number of people massacred in cold blood so far is about 160 and still! counting.

“Internally displaced People are estimated now to be about 15,000. Eight Churches were burnt down: Baptist, Dares; CAC Mbong; COCIN Maiyanga; COCIN Ndung; COCIN Tahor; CAC Longhair; COCIN, Ngha-buk and COCIN Church Hurum. All the Eight Pastoriums in the churches were also burnt down. Two Pastors of Baptist and Assemblies of God were killed in the attacks.

“A further breakdown shows that 110 men, 37 women, 10 children, and 3 physically challenged persons were burnt in their homes as they were unable to run. A total of 25 villages were attacked in the well-coordinated military-style assault.

“The breakdown of the villages according to districts are as follows: Butura (4), Mbar (5), Tangur (4), Bokkos (6), Mushere (1), Mangor (4) and Mazat(1}. Total number of cars and buses destroyed (8), Motorcycles (27) while those stolen by the attackers were 2. The total number of houses burnt is about three hundred and one (301).”

“It is not surprising at all that these mindless, senseless and barbaric killings have attracted both local, national and global condemnations. World leaders and international Organisations such as the United Nations have condemned the killings.”

Pope Francis in his address during the Angelus Prayer on Sunday, December 31%, 2023, said, “Sadly, the celebration of Christmas in Nigeria was marred by serious violence in Plateau State, with many victims.”

He prayed for the victims while also trusting that “God will deliver Nigeria from these horrors.”

In his remarks, Governor Caleb Mutfwang, who received the protest letter promised to deliver it to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He thanked the church leaders for keeping the peace in the state even in the face of obvious provocation by the terrorists.

Mutfwang who acknowledged that the people had gone through a horrible period in the past years said his administration was determined to do everything possible to bring lasting peace to the state.

“I receive you today with gladness but with heaviness of heart. We have been through a very horrible period over this Christmas and New Year. We have been through a lot of heartaches. Because we desire to live in peace. I want to thank you for how you have kept the peace of the land. In the face of provocation, you have not allowed yourself to lose your humanity. I want to say thank you.

“By the grace of God, I have received your petition, and I will be forwarding it to Mr. President. President, who has shown that he has come as a deliverer. He has assured me on several occasions, that he wants to bring an end to this cycle of violence. And I believe him because I have seen him giving marching orders to the heads of the security agencies.

“We have seen some attempts by the security agencies to do the needful. We have also seen some lapses, which we are also discussing with them. By the grace of God. I have told you before that I didn’t come as a governor to preside over burial ceremonies. So by the grace of God, we will move from the book of Lamentations to the book of Acts”, he said.

Continuing the Governor promised to do everything within his capacity to ensure the mindless killings become history.

Mutfwang added, “We will not sit back and watch our people slaughtered. By the grace of God, we will do all that it takes to ensure that this carnage is stopped. We will do all that we can to ensure that our land is secured. By the grace of God, the blood of the people that are being shed will not be in vain. we will continue to cry for justice. And by the grace of God, if we cannot bring the people to justice, we will take justice to them.

“We are not going to allow this to continue and we are not going to hide behind politics. If this is all that I can be able to solve to secure the plateau and You tell me it is enough, I will rest. I didn’t come as a politician. I have come to that plateau and will rise again.

“I will continue to mobilise all the agencies on the ground, give them the enabling environment for them to function effectively. Our lamentations will not be in vain. We can only cry in our closet to God. But we will not retreat, we will not back down, our spirits will not be broken. If there is anything I crave for today on the plateau, is that may God bind us together, may God unite us.

“Together, we will stand shoulder to shoulder. an evil man will not penetrate our community. to your leaders, I want you to rise to the occasion, and demonstrate leadership capacity in your communities. Let’s rally behind our church leaders and make sure that together we operate under the same Lord under the same banner and the same saviour. We cannot fight ourselves and expect to succeed. We must be able to excuse our differences and make sure that we work together in unity.”

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