Service Chiefs, Defence Minister visit Plateau after fresh attack

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The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, and military chiefs visited Plateau State on Sunday, immediately after a new attack by gunmen.

The visit comes just hours after gunmen killed two people, including a father and his kid, in a new attack in the state’s Bokkos Local Government Area.

Accompanying the service chiefs Matawalle was the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu.

The dignitaries boarded a Nigerian Air Force jet and arrived at Yakubu Gowon Airport Heipang around 10:10 a.m. Matawalle then appeared on the ground to accept the military authorities’ salute.

Service chiefs present were the Minister of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Musa; the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Hassan Abubakar.

Plateau State has been attacked twice within a week. In the previous attack on December 24, over 190 persons were killed while marking the Christmas Eve attacks on Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi local government areas of the state.

In the fresh attack, the Transition Implementation Committee chairman Markus Nyam told Channels Television that the attackers invaded the village on Saturday night and killed a father and his son.

He also said that the efforts of the vigilantes in the community who engaged the assailants resulted in the death of one of the attackers as others fled.
The Joint Security Task Force Operation Safe Haven personnel also responded to the community’s distress call, preventing the attackers from causing more damage.

Aid Imminent

During a visit to the region on Wednesday, Vice President Kashim Shettima said aid would arrive shortly.

“I will personally supervise it, and ensure that none of it is hijacked by anybody,” said Caleb Mutfwang, the state governor.

Yuhanna Audu from the national rescue agency NEMA told AFP that supplies were coming and distribution should start within two days.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered “security agencies to immediately move in, scour every stretch of the zone, and apprehend the culprits”.

Northwest and central Nigeria have been long terrorised by bandit militias operating from bases deep in forests and raiding villages to loot and kidnap residents for ransom.

Competition for natural resources between nomadic herders and farmers, intensified by rapid population growth and climate pressures, has also exacerbated social tensions and sparked violence.

A jihadist conflict has raged in northeastern Nigeria since 2009, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing around two million, as Boko Haram jihadists battle for supremacy with rivals linked to the Islamic State group.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said in a statement he was “deeply alarmed” by the Christmas weekend attacks.

“The cycle of impunity fuelling recurrent violence must be urgently broken. The government should also take meaningful steps to address the underlying root causes and to ensure non-recurrence of this devastating violence,” he said.