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Monday, 9 July 2012
TRAGEDY IN PLATEAU: Senator, House Leader, 50 others killed
JOS— The dark cloud of death that has been stalking Plateau State thickened, yesterday, after Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Gyang Fulani were killed while attending the mass burial of about 50 victims of Saturday’s attack on villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state.
The killing of the lawmakers came on the heels of the discovery, yesterday, of the remains of over 50 persons mostly women and children burnt inside the residence of a local pastor where they had taken refuge following the attack on about 14 villages by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Saturday.
The two lawmakers were reportedly gunned down at Maseh village in Riyom LGA where over 50 victims of Saturday’s attack were being buried. The gunmen reportedly stormed the venue and opened fire on those present, causing more deaths.
GRIEF—Relations of the late Senator Gyang Dantong at his residence in Jos, yesterday. Photo: NAN.
Member representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Simon Mwadkon was lucky as he escaped with injuries and was resuscitated at the Barkin-Ladi General Hospital where he was rushed to after he fainted.
Senator Dantong was the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senator representing the Plateau North Senatorial District and was until his death yesterday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health. The developments which sparked angry reactions across Plateau State was immediately flayed by the senate with Senate President David Mark describing the death as a personal loss. Senator Dantong’s colleagues in the Senate including Senate spokesman, Enyinnanya Abaribe; Senators Pius Ehwerido and Ifeanyi Okowa also paid tributes to a man they described as a gentleman.
Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives also joined in the condemnation of the killings, describing Senator Dantong as a man of peace whose death is highly regrettable.
The death of the 50 persons in the residence of the pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria at Maseh village was believed to have been the handiwork of the suspected Fulani herdsmen who were believed to have torched the house when they discovered that the people had taken refuge there.
Gyang Fulani,and Senator Gyang Dantong
The killing of the lawmakers sparked off angry reactions around the plateau as youths took over the highway to protest what they described as a genocide against the Berom people allegedly by the Fulani.
The angry reaction following yesterday’s killings forced many motorists travelling along the Jos-Riyom highway to turn back to avoid being caught in the disturbance.
The Permanent Secretary in charge of security in the Cabinet Office, Mr. Istifanus Gyang confirmed the killing of the two lawmakers.
Condemnation greets killings
Commenting on the killings, a Jos-based civil rights group, Centre for the Advocacy of Justice and Rights in a statement by its Director, Mr. Gad Peter called for the sacking of all security chiefs in the country.
“It is a clear indictment of the inability of the Special Task Force and the Federal Government to provide security for the citizens of Plateau State. It is also a clear statement that we are no longer safe in this country.
“We demand the mass retirement of all security chiefs and for Mr. President to give us a roadmap on how he intends to solve the Plateau crises and other issues of insecurity in the Northern part of the country within two weeks.
“We use this opportunity to appeal to the people of Plateau State not to take the law into their hands”, the statement said.
Violence broke out in parts of Jos and other Berom communities as news of the killing of the senator and the majority leader spread as youths took over the highways in Rayfield, Bukuru and other areas to protest the killings.
Security men had difficult time restoring order as the youth accused them of being effective only in checking them while the Fulani herdsmen, who they alleged perpetrated the killings, had a field day.
Describing the death of the senator as a great shock, Senator Mark in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the death of Dantong was a personal loss. He, however, warned that, “the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians must be stopped,” adding that the federal government, state and local governments and security operatives must rise to halt the senseless killings.
“We must do everything within the ambit of our laws to ensure that this type of murderous act is stopped. As a nation, we must just rise against those who are determined to return us to a state of nature where life had little or no value.”
According to Senator Mark, the deceased was “a patriotic parliamentarian, quintessential gentleman and committed nationalist who was killed in active service to his fatherland.”
Senator Abaribe, stressed that the murder of Senator Dantong was a tragedy to the Senate and described him as a calm, gentle, unassuming, loving and humane doctor.
Also reacting, Dantong’s Vice in the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, described the late Senator as a calm man who was passionate about his work and his people, adding that he was always going on weekends to have a feeling of his people’s problems.
Senator Ehwerido on his part said yesterday: ”Senator Dantong was a distinguished colleague and gentleman. It’s painful to lose him in this barbarous manner.”
Speaker Tambuwal in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Imam Imam said the incessant killings in the state and other parts of the country must be stopped forthwith. While condoling with the government and people of Plateau State over the losses, the Speaker said the House of Representatives in particular, and the National Assembly in general, will continue to liaise with other arms of government and security agencies to find lasting solution to the spate of violence bedeviling the nation.
According to the Speaker, criminal groups hide under different guises to cause mayhem in the country, as such, Nigerians should remain resolute in their quest for lasting peace.
He said Nigeria is greater than any group, and expressed optimism that this dark period in our history would soon pass.
The Peoples Democratic Party in its reaction expressed utter shock at renewed violence in Plateau State describing as heinous and reprehensible the Sunday violent attack that claimed the lives of Senator Dantong, Mr. Gyang
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh said the party was deeply worried and regretted that the development was coming as Federal Government was making fresh efforts to tackle the nation’s security challenges.
Curfew in parts of Plateau
Meanwhile, the state government has imposed a curfew in some areas of the state. A statement signed by Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yiljap Abraham said: “In view of the prevailing security situation, the Governor of Plateau State Dr Jonah Jang is hereby imposing a curfew in the following areas: Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs with immediate effect. The curfew will start from 7.30 today to 7.00 tomorrow morning, while the curfew starts 6pm tomorrow to 7am till further notice”.