On July 22, Mary Bello (not real name) was teaching her private pupils forgiveness in a Bible class when an army of Fulani militia invaded Jebbu-Miango, Plateau State, and razed it in its entirety. The attack — not the first in the town in recent times — would later become the unfortunate spark for a massacre in the Miango community, FIJ can exclusively report.
Between early July and August 14, at least 71 residents of Miango were gruesomely murdered by the assailants, despite the heavy presence of the Nigerian Army, including the Special Task Force of the Operation Safe Haven, officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and Mobile Police (MOPOL) officers of the Nigeria Police Force in the volatile community of Bassa Local Government Area.
There are over 15 towns and villages within Miango, including Jebbu-Miango, Nkiehwie, Zahwra, Tafin Gana and others, but as of now, FIJ can confirm that all the inhabitants have been dislodged by these Fulani militias.
“It was even interesting how they started their recent attacks,” Bello said.
“From July 28 to August 2, these militias attacked Jebbu-Miango consistently until the town became under siege. They first started by laying ambush for three or four farmers, then moved on to the destruction of farms.
“On the night of August 2, about 200 of them engulfed Miango. They were so coordinated that while some were shooting, others were looting the houses.
“If you manage to escape the fire, your house cannot escape looting. In fact, some groups will load properties in their trucks and some others will set the houses on fire.”
NO ORDER FOR POLICE TO SHOOT
Bello questioned the presence of securities without the ability to defend the people.
“These MOPOL were also concerned that there was no order for them to engage the Fulani,” she said. “Go and investigate these things I am telling you. No security official had the order to shoot.”
“On July 28 that about 10 houses were razed, the residents had to reach a compromise with the Police. We gathered bullets for them to defend the community since they claimed they could be punished if their own bullets were not complete at the time of auditing before their superiors.”
Similar to what Bello said, FIJ had reported how a 25-year-old Stephen Fwangmun was killed in Farin Gada, the area hosting the largest tomato market in Plateau State, under the watch of officers of Operation Safe Haven, a special military task force in Plateau State.
When FIJ contacted the complaint desk of Operation Safe Haven, the soldier who answered had stated that their soldiers could not engage attackers since the order was not given.
‘I FORGIVE THEM’
FIJ also understands that deserted Nkiewhie, also known as Ungwan Rogo, shares a fence with the Nigerian Army Armour 3 Division.
Zahwra, another town just about 500 metres from the same Army barracks, is only inhabited by cattle owned by displaced residents.
“I forgive these Fulani militias but I find it hard to forgive the government because they neglected us in our times of need,” Bello said. “Is it that the lives of the rural people don’t matter? Up till date, the Governor has not visited Miango.”
With over 30,000 community residents displaced between July and August, less-volatile towns in Rukuba Road and Jos, the capital of Plateau State, have become overwhelmed.
31 HUMANS IN ONE HOUSE
Heli Musa, a driver with Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Jos, has been hosting his brother’s family members since the end of July when their house was razed in Miango.
Musa’s brother’s family consists of 23 people, while he says his is “just eight”. All 31 are now staying together in a house at Kpachudu town.
“Feeding has been very critical,” he says. “The responsibility is now on me and my wife who is just a trader.”
INVITATION TO HELL
Many Nigerians took notice of the massacre in Miango after the killing of 22 Muslim travellers on August 14, but findings revealed that the attack had an undertone of pre-existing grievances.
On August 10, Istifanus Gyang, the senator representing Plateau North, visited Miango to access the level of the ruins.
While en route to the palace of the paramount ruler, in the entourage of Ibrahim Ali, the General Officer Commanding of the 3 Division, the militias again struck.
Three women farmers were hacked to death while they were harvesting Irish potatoes on the farm.
“It is believed that when there is a visit like that and the officers are in the entourage, the enemies are alerted and use that opportunity to infiltrate unguarded villages,” Yakubu Nuhu, the Miango Youth Development Association President, explained.
“Before that day, the community had kept three corpses to show the senator, but three more were soon added that day.”
All six would later be buried on August 14.
Even though Senator Gyang was angry and found an attack during his embarrassing, the situation worsened afterwards.
On August 15, four boys were kidnapped and are yet to be found. Again on August 17, five people were killed.
On August 19, two more women were killed on the farm.
One may wonder why some of them still return to the farm in the face of insecurity but Bello stated that “most of these people are vegetable farmers and that land is their only heritage”.
Makut Simon Macham, spokesman of Simon Lalong, the Governor of Plateau, didn’t answer his calls for comments on the neglect of the Miango community. He was also yet to respond to the text message as of press time.
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