DAILY SUN HEADLINE: Tales of Horror from Plateau: Butchered, beheaded, escapes

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Take this: Mrs Esther Bitrus lost her husband, two children, grandfather, grandmother, daughter-in- law, brother and the wife. In fact, 17 members of her family were butchered within minutes when killer herdsmen brought agony, sorrow and blood to their household last weekend. Meeting her, she was looking vacantly into space and shaking her head intermittently. She was like someone in a trance. Her life will never be the same again.


Although the smoke appears fading, the affected communities are still like ghost enclaves. The surviving victims have abandoned the land of their fathers. And nobody ventures into the area as the blood thirsty gang is lurking in the shadows, waiting for who to dismember.

Coming from Yakubu Gowon Airport to Jos metropolis on Wednesday afternoon, it didn’t take long to know that all was not well with the state. Security personnel lined up the long stretch, few metres apart. There was apprehension on faces; everyone was on edge. In fact, it was learnt that few hours earlier, gunshots rented the air around the Burutu axis.

For the past couple of days, blood has been flowing freely on the Plateau. Men, women and children were massacred in dozens. A nine-month-old baby was beheaded. While the police said that 86 people died, the locals insist that criminal herdsmen killed 216 persons in 11 communities across three local government areas of the state. Scores are still missing.

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Those who managed to escape the attack found refuge in churches. But their safety there cannot be guaranteed. This is because there is no sign of security in the emergency Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps visited by Saturday Sun on Thursday. There, you see elderly men, women and children roaming about, like sheep without shepherd. There, you see people who have nothing except the shirt on their back. Worse still, the state government has not deemed it necessary to visit the camps or offer them any form of assistance.

Visiting the camps, you will be moved to tears as the survivors tell the story of their journey to the land of the dead. Some of them lost entire family members.

Tales from the land of the dead
Pa Dung Ibrahim was still in shock when we met him. Although he escaped but he has become homeless as his house was completely razed. He could barely recount his ordeal in the hand of the herdsmen. He said: “The Fulani herdsmen came to the village at about 3pm and killed about 68 persons. I was at home at that time; they surrounded the village from the hills. I ran to escape and God helped me. Nothing happened to me, my family also escaped. Nothing happened to my family.”

Mr Ishaya Bulus, a 51-year-old farmer from Nghar village, was overwhelmed by emotion as he spoke to Saturday Sun. At a point, his voice lowered as he battled tears. He said that his father was slaughtered. “We were going for a burial in Kura Falls and we were not able to reach the place because it was raining and our vehicle returned home. My wife told me that she heard some gunshots and I thought she was afraid unnecessarily. So, I decided to go out of the house and I discovered that people have gathered outside and the Fulani had surrounded the village through the hills. There was nothing we could doandItoldmywifetogotomy father’s house, who was killed that morning by unknown persons. When I was returning to my house it was already locked and the only alternative for me was to go into the pigs’ house and hide myself while it was raining and the gunshots were increasing. Two of my friends, who were running for safety asked me to come out. We ran to a different village to hide ourselves. The killings started at 3pm and it continued until 6pm, still we did not go home until 11pm when everywhere was calm and the gunshots had stopped. We went to the village and discovered that houses were burnt; our brothers and sisters were all killed and burnt. The corpses were everywhere and my father was killed. They slaughtered him. My wife had to climb the roof of my house with my children and that was how they escaped,” he narrated.

Mrs Esther Bitrus, from Nghar village, lost 17 members of her family, including her husband and two children. This is her heart-wrenching story: “I was in my house; I didn’t know what was going on. Suddenly, I heard people crying and running, saying that Fulani have entered the village. They came in large numbers, they were shooting people and burning their houses, I don’t know what we have done to them. Seventeen members of my family were killed, our grandfather and grandmother were killed, our daughter-in-law, who just married was killed with the husband, five children were in a room and they were all burnt, the wife of my elder brother and her daughter were also killed, two of my children were killed and my husband among others.”