THE Chairman, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State Shehu Bala, has confirmed that people under the auspices of Irigwe Youth attacked worshippers that left at least 25 dead last Saturday.
On Thursday, featuring on Arise TV’s “The Morning Show,” Bala said the Irigwe youths, whom the police had fingered, were behind the attack.
He said the worshipers drove through the area where the attackers were burying their relations who had died in an attack on their community, and the youth stopped their vehicles, resulting in violence.
“I received a distressed call that some commuters in about five buses came from Bauchi. They passed through Plateau to Bauchi to do their annual prayers. They had to take a route that could be said to be shorter. At that time, the Irigwe people were having a burial. The issue happened there. The incident happened, and you have the eruption of violence at the exact spot.
“These buses were stopped, they (occupants) were taken out, so many issues and victims were recorded. At that time, about 20 people were killed at that particular spot. That’s actually what happened.
“The police have said that. I was not there, but the police have the record.”
Bloodletting across Nigeria escalated with the killings.
At least, the police have arrest 20 people over the attack.
Prominent Nigerians, including groups and governments, condemned the killing.
Peeved by the incident, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators in an unusually prompt reaction to such a tragedy.
The Presidency, Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muslims Rights Concern, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu were among the institutions and individuals that condemned the attack.
Plateau is among Nigerian states that have witnessed conflicts with high casualties since the country returned to democracy in 1999.
Many of the conflicts have been linked to ethnic and religious identities, including crop farmers-herders feuds.
According to the Human Rights Watch, at least 1,200 people died from crises veiled with ethnic and religious garbs between 2010 and 2011.
Hundreds of others have died from related violence since then, as various peace efforts failed.
The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) alleged on Tuesday that three students of the University of Jos were killed, while two had been missing, despite a curfew placed on Jos and its environs by the state governor, Solomon Dalung.
Fielding questions on the Arise TV programme, Bala said peace-building agencies were working to guarantee sustainable peace in the state.
According to him, the most important requirement for people to live together is understanding and forgiveness.
He said vengeance would always escalate the crisis.
He said the feud between Irigwe and herders and other ethnic nationalities in Plateau had been on for a very long time.
While condemning the crisis, he said the state government took prompt and drastic measures to halt the incident from spilling into other parts of the state.
He also backed the state government’s decision to arrest anyone who rushes to bail suspects apprehended over the killing.
“It is decisive, and it is a very straightforward directive by His Excellency that any person that is coming to bail should be arrested. That is a welcome order. The citizens are happy with this decision by His Excellency,” Bala said.