A Christmas Massacre: Over 100 civilians killed in Plateau by armed bandits

A time of joy and celebration for Christian communities in Nigeria has turned into mourning for the people of Plateau State, as over 100 people have been reported dead and 300 injured following gruesome attacks by armed bandits. This was between Sunday, December 24, and Monday, December 25, 2023.

According to reports by various news outlets, the attacks were said to have started in Bokko and then moved on toward the Barkin Ladi local government area. During these attacks, people of all ages, including women and children, were gruesomely murdered with no interference from neighbouring security personnel. Properties and farmlands were looted and set ablaze by the bandits, as reported by Channels TV

Image of a burned house in Plateau via Idris 4 Peace on X

The gruesomeness of these attacks remains a concern for Nigerians, as they are recurring with little to no interference from the nation’s government. The news of these attacks has sparked concern among individuals on X (formerly known as Twitter), causing them to start a campaign called #Plateaulivesmatter

At the time this report was published, no arrest had been made. The president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also not made an official statement in this regard and the people of the affected local government areas have been forced to dishonourably bury their dead.

What people had to say about the massacre

Twitter user @Lorde_EM stated their experience of previous attacks in the community and expressed exasperation at the recurrence of these attacks on the people of Plateau State. 

“Since I was 16, Plateau Christians don’t celebrate Christmas without having to bury their own in the hands of terrorists. I’m 31 now. Nothing has changed.”

The Plateau state governor, Caleb Mutfwang, expressed his deep condolences to the families of the deceased and stated his displeasure with the attacks. As a native of the Mangu community, he stated that the people in the Mangu Local have had to bury 15 members of the community. He implied that it is causing its members to mourn deaths rather than celebrate Christmas.  

“We have had engagements with community leaders to identify potential conflict areas and nip them in the bud. We have been trying to build communal harmony, and to a large extent, we have succeeded. But, with the breach that we have experienced in the last few days, it means that some people are not happy with the progress we have made.’’

Because these communities share close boundaries, they were all affected by the attacks. This forced their members to be displaced from their homesteads. The attacks remain a barbaric display done by rumored Fulani herdsmen to infiltrate these communities and take over the lands owned by the indigenous people of Plateau State. 

In a statement made by Victor Panwal, a digital storyteller and skit maker, he expressed his disdain for the attacks while informing his followers about the extent of the attacks.

“Some attacks lasted more than five hours with no security interference… The gunmen sent letters to the villages ahead of their arrival and still came to the villages. Women and children are the major casualties among the estimated number of at least 140 deaths.”

These attacks are seemingly common during the festive period for the people of Plateau State. It also shows the government’s poor attitude towards the plight of the people of Plateau. We call on the Nigerian government to come to the aid of the people of the affected communities and put an end to the gruesome killings of vulnerable members of society.

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