Army Says Vigilantes Who Were Killed Were “Terrorists”
According to reports by Truth Newspaper, residents of Central Plateau State and human rights watchers from as far away as Washington, D.C. have expressed indignation over the execution of three neighborhood watchmen by Nigerian military.
The Nigerian military which did not dispute the deaths and declared on July 12 that the three armed individuals who were murdered in Panyam, a town 42 miles southeast of Jos, were terrorist bandits who set up an ambush in the Ampang East neighborhood of Mangu County.
However, Truth Nigeria is told by witnesses to the killings who chose not to give their names out of concern for reprisals that the young men killed were valiantly fighting off terrorists. Locals refer to them as “vigilantes,” but they are actually neighborhood watchmen who only defend their towns with weapons when they are attacked.
During a normal patrol, the vigilantes were attacked after getting off a broken-down motorcycle on a nearby roadway, according to the witnesses. Since May 16, more than 350 people have died as a result of Islamic terrorist strikes across the Central Plateau counties, according to town authorities.
A leader of the Plateau State Assemblyman was compelled by the occurrence to demand a public investigation into the killings. In a one-on-one interview with Truth Nigeria, Del. Dewan K. Gabriel demanded “a thorough and impartial investigation into the alleged human rights violations committed by the Nigerian military in central Plateau State,” referring to what he called “the recent reported murder of three self-defense volunteers, who were shot while courageously protecting the villages from terrorists.”
“One thing is certain, the Nigerian military is not empowered to commit street-side execution of suspects whether they are terrorists or vigilantes,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians in a text to Truth Nigeria. “This case demands immediate international attention and review by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial killings,” Laugesen added. “The embattled people of Plateau—mostly Christian populations enduring officially unrecognized Islamic jihad—deserve far more professional concern, compassion, and response from Nigerian security forces who unfortunately are often compromised and complicit with the terrorists bent on their exile and extermination.”
Gov. Mutfwang addresses military leaders directly
The Nigerian Army boasted of neutralizing three “bandits” after “gallantly fighting through an ambush” in Mangu on July 12, as the newly elected Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, met with the nation’s newly appointed Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Christopher Musa, in Abuja to plead for an end to ongoing terror raids in the State.
On July 12, Mutfwang paid a personal visit to the CDS to appeal to the generals because he appeared to be tired of making public statements for the military to step in and put an end to the killings.
The army authorities in Abuja said they killed terrorists in the village of Perr and collected weapons in a statement released that day’s evening by their Director of Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu.
Residents of the neighborhood, which is in the Ampang East District of Mangu County, however, claimed to Truth Nigeria that the vigilantes posed no danger to them or the military and that they voluntarily surrendered when they were stopped by soldiers on a local highway.
“They were just pushing their motorcycle which had broken down during a routine patrol of the area,” said one witness on background for fear of retaliation by the military. “The soldiers bumped into them and arrested them without resistance,” the source said in a telephone interview. “They laid them down on the ground and shot them one after the other,” said the source.
Since huge attacks by radicalized mercenaries started setting Plateau towns on fire, dozens of neighborhood watchmen, sometimes known as “vigilantes,” have perished.
State in a wide area starting on May 12. Two vigilantes were buried five miles away at the time of the murder on July 12 at 2 p.m. local time, according to Jethro Jacob, a youth leader in Mangu. According to Jacob, the memorial service was held for two vigilantes who were killed in an ambush in the terror-infested village of Perr. But according to Jacob, the Secretary of the Mwagavul Youth Movement, a local tribe organization, their bodies had remained unburied at the scene because of persistent threats.
“We had to beg for the soldiers and police to give us protection to bury them,” said Jacob in a telephone interview. “All the people living in the village were displaced when they attacked and they are the ones controlling the area,” he said, refuting the military’s claim the three vigilantes killed on 12 July were terrorists. “There was no distress call whatsoever from that area. We are usually the first point of contact for the villagers, so if there was any problem, we will be the ones to relay it to the military. But there was nothing like that,” Jacob told Truth Nigeria.
“There was no distress call whatsoever from that area. We are usually the first point of contact for the villagers, so if there was any problem, we will be the ones to relay it to the military. But there was nothing like that,” Jacob told Truth Nigeria. “The terrorists have killed more than 350 of our people and taken over 50 of our villages in just two weeks. All along, the military never responded to any distress calls. Even when they did, they were either overpowered or unwilling to pursue them. But all of a sudden we hear of terrorists killed after a distress call. Something doesn’t seem right to me,” Jacob said.
“The terrorists have killed more than 350 of our people and taken over 50 of our villages in just two weeks. All along, the military never responded to any distress calls. Even when they did, they were either overpowered or unwilling to pursue them. But all of a sudden we hear of terrorists killed after a distress call. Something doesn’t seem right to me,” Jacob said.
Vigilantes Felled in Multiple Engagements Three days prior to the killing of the three vigilantes, 14 people including vigilantes were killed in the west of Mangu County. An evening attack by a band of 200 terrorists armed with assault rifles led to the killing of six vigilantes and eight other residents in Sabon Gari village according to witnesses. A group of 20 vigilantes battled in vain to push back the attack, which was preceded by a series of advance notices, including some by Truth Nigeria. The Nigerian authorities did nothing to prevent the attacks which later spread to the southwest of Jos the following day, killing nine other residents including a vigilante member, Truth Nigeria has reported. For persecuted Christians in Nigeria’s war-torn Middle Belt, their only hope for survival are the volunteer neighborhood-watch forces. These brave community members, often untrained and carrying homemade rifles, put their lives on the line every day, facing off against superior numbers of terrorists armed with assault rifles. Many have lost their lives in combat, paying the ultimate price for their bravery. But tragically, a growing number have been cut down deliberately by the Nigerian soldiers themselves, Truth Nigeria has learned. Solomon Dalyop, a human rights attorney told Truth Nigeria while the Nigerian laws prohibit the use of automatic firearms for self-defense, the increasing sophistication of the attacks has called for extreme measures. “These terrorists attack with highly sophisticated weapons including machine guns,” said Dalyop in a telephone interview. “The law allows the use of proportionate force to defend against any attack,” said Dalyop who is also a tribal leader in Plateau State.