As the situation of the internally displaced persons displaced by recent attacks on farming communities in Mangu local government area of plateau state continues to deteriorate, a peace advocacy group known as The Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, led by clergy Rev. Dr Gideon Para-Mallam, on Sunday, expressed deep concern over the living condition of internally displaced persons camped in schools and other open places in Plateau State.
Para-Mallam, who spoke during a humanitarian visit to the internally displaced persons in Mangu local government area of the state, described the condition of the IDPs as a “humanitarian disaster”. The intervention is part of the Touching Lives Initiatives, an initiative of the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation that supports victims of violent attacks. Sunday’s visit was made in collaboration with the Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Societies (CWEENS).
The Revd Dr Gideon Para-Mallam, speaking to the IDPs stated that what happened to Mangu people happened to “all of us”. He empathized with them over the unfortunate situation they have found themselves in and emphasized the need for patience, stating that patience is not foolishness.
“What has happened to you people, happened to all of us because we are all humans. You must be patient and you must know that patience at a time like this is not foolishness.”
Para-Mallam pleaded with the people not to think of vengeance because God has heard their cries and by His grace the killings will stop like they stopped in Bassa. He informed the people that the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation would do all it could to fight for them and assured them that no one would steal their lands because the world is with them. He added that the Foundation will soon organize a peace meeting between them and the Fulani people.
Speaking to journalists after the visit to the IDP camp, the Revd Dr Gideon Para-Mallam stated that the intervention is part of the Early Presence model for peacebuilding. He called on the government to carry out some infrastructural development for the people of Mangu such as fixing the bad bridges that are at some strategic areas through which the attackers come into the land. He spoke strongly on the need for the government at all levels to put an end to the impunity of people killing and going scot-free. He added that the narrative that it is a farmer-herder clash is simplistic and abates the killings.
“The government needs to stop the impunity of people coming to kill people and walk away. It’s unacceptable. I think the government needs to sit up and say enough is enough.
Para-Mallam also called on the government to redouble its efforts to end the killings to enable the people to return to their ancestral villages.
He said, “The humanitarian disaster that has befallen the people of Mangu has been catastrophic, disturbing.
“The visit is to identify with the victims and support them in a little way to cushion the effects of the tragedy and devastation of their properties by the attackers.
“We can see the vast number of IDPs; over 18000 of them here (Mangu primary school) comprising children, women, orphans, widows, husbands, widowers. You can imagine that less than two years old baby whose mother and father were killed. I was moved to tears but I have to control myself.
After the visit to the IDP camp, Para-Mallam and his team paid homage to the palace of the paramount ruler of Mwaghavul (Mangu), HRH Da John Putmang Hirse. Speaking at the palace of the Mishkagham, the Revd Dr Gideon Para-Mallam thanked the traditional ruler for the opportunity to be there and informed him that the visit was both a courtesy call and a visit to offer the monarch condolences for the tragic events that had occurred in his land. He gave the Mishkagham encouragement by saying that he and his people are not alone and that many across the world are supporting them. Para-Mallam also thanked the Chairman of the Christian Association (CAN), Mangu Chapter, the Secretary General of the Mwaghavul Development Association, and the media for their various contributions.
Para-Mallam also made a strong case for peace, appealing to the Miskagham to speak to his people against embarking on revenge mission as it is counterproductive. He stated that the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation will fight until justice prevails and it is to that effect, he wrote a report titled: “Mangu Killings: It’s Time for Peace”. The report which has generated international discussions was written to expose what is going on in Mangu and champion the cause for justice. He further stated that the problem in Mangu is not just the problem of Mangu people but a collective problem. He added that the Foundation works for peace that is predicated on justice and it will fight until justice is established in Mangu because people cannot be killed over reasons that do not warrant people getting killed.
In his remark, the Mishkagham expressed gratitude to the Para-Mallam ane his team, stating that he was honoured to receive them. He said the attacks came as a surprise because the Mwaghavul people had been living peacefully with the Fulanis for years and they even intermarried with them. He added that his people have engaged in peace talks with the Fulani people led by the GOC but after 2 or 3 days, they’ll break whatever agreement was reached. The king lamented over the destructions of lives, farms and houses stating that churches that have been destroyed are now converted to houses by the Fulani people even though no mosque has been destroyed.
The monarch said there’s something fundamentally wrong which he is yet to find out and he is open to hear what the attackers want. He said Mwaghavul people are not ready to retaliate but they’re asking for justice and calling on the government to ensure that people whose farms and properties have been destroyed are compensated. He said the people of Mangu are wondering why the attacks are coming now that they have their son as governor. He also said, it appears the attacks have been planned over a long time for it to have engulfed the entirety of Mwaghavul land as it has. In addition, he stated that the world needs to know what is happening and he is glad that the Para-Mallam Foundation is helping in that regard. The revered monarch also expressed willingness to engage in a dialogue with the Fulani people so that they can tell the Mangu people what their problem is. At the end of his remark, the Royal Father thanked the Foundation for the relief materials they brought and encouraged them to continue with the good works so that peace can return to Plateau State. He said “we need to work together as Nigerians for the progress of everyone.”
Middle Belt Times reports that over 300 people including women and children have been brutally murdered and hundreds of houses destroyed between April and July 2023 in attacks believed to be perpetrated by terrorists suspected to be herdsmen according to data released by the Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation.
An authoritative source who spoke to Middle Belt Times on condition of strict anonymity said the villagers have had to endure watching their farmlands destroyed by the marauding herdsmen.
“As at yesterday, some of the natives ran away for safety while cows grace their farmlands unhindered from what we heard.
“Even on Friday before we arrived Saturday, some crops and farmlands were destroyed the people complained.”