‘Military shot him in the chest,’ family of man allegedly killed by soldiers in Plateau claims

THE family of Dambem Datom Dafur, a sexagenarian father allegedly murdered by the Nigerian military in the ongoing clash in Mangu Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State, has given its account of how its patriarch was killed.

Dafur’s death on Wednesday, January 25, 2024, came as a shock and has continued to weigh heavily on his wife and children.

Born in 1964, the last child of his father, the deceased was blessed with three children and survived by a wife.

His family said it was planning to sue the Army to demand answers to his death and bring the officers who allegedly shot him in the chest to justice.

A member of his family, who spoke with The ICIR on condition of anonymity, described the incident as unfortunate, noting that his uncle (the deceased) was standing guard close to his house against arsonists who were burning houses in a nearby community when the soldiers started shooting.

The ICIR reported how a source accused the military of taking a side in the clash, having allegedly killed a man while trying to disperse unarmed women protesting against the military harassment in the Angwan Sarki community.

Photo of Dafur. Photo credit:
Photo of  Dafur, a sexagenarian father, allegedly killed by the military Photo credit: Family

The military and other security operatives were deployed to Mangu LGA on Tuesday, January 24, following the escalated attacks, leading to a clash between Muslim and Christian-dominated communities.

Giving the account of the incident that led to his uncle’s death, the family source stated that the man was an easy-going person and in no way was armed and deserved to be brutally killed. 

“Sincerely, it’s very unfortunate because we believed that the military always maintained law and order. But to our greatest surprise, someone who was 60 years old, my uncle and the only older person left in the family, was shot dead by the military.

“According to his wife, he left the room without carrying anything, not even a stick, and stood near his house with other people around when the military started shooting. The other people ran, and the place he was running to didn’t have a road, but one military man followed him to the wall of a particular house and then shot him directly in the chest. Other people who were running away saw how the military personnel shot him,” said the source.

The source noted that the military took away the shell of the bullet to avoid being traced, adding that more than six eyewitnesses confirmed the killing.

The source pointed out that the family had decided not to bury the deceased, adding that they would demand justice as soon as possible.

“The corpse is there; we are not going to bury the corpse now. We took him to the mortuary so that we could embalm him, and at the end of the day, we are going to demand justice because he was shot in the chest. If you see the body, you will see that somebody who’s trained shot that particular man.

“People that were there saw it directly, and they (military) took away the shell of the bullet so that probably they wouldn’t trace the person that did that job. Everybody that was there saw exactly what happened. More than five eyewitnesses said it was the military, and they wouldn’t lie.”

Meanwhile, Dafur was not the only victim of the alleged military attack in Angwan Sarki, as The ICIR spoke to a survivor of the event.

A survivor of the alleged military brutality in the Mangu area, Sunday Yusuf. Photo: Local/The ICIR
A survivor of the alleged military brutality in the Mangu area, Sunday Yusuf. Photo: Local/The ICIR

Sunday Yusuf, originally from Murish, Mangu ward, alongside his family, was displaced sometime around 2023 by herdsmen and had to take refuge in Angwan Sarki of Mangu LGA.

Yusuf, a father of four children, was also allegedly shot by one of the military personnel deployed to the town to enforce the curfew declared by the state government despite being unarmed and staying close to his residence.

Although Yusuf survived, his right arm, where a bullet caught him, has now been amputated and has been left to battle the aftermath of the attack alone.

As all the sources who spoke with The ICIR confirmed, Yusuf said that Angwan Sarki was not among the areas plagued by the clash.

He added that he and others were standing close to their houses to protect them from possible attacks.

    The military had, however, denied allegations of abetting killing, burning of houses and also killing of civilians in the clashes.

    The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), in a statement released by its acting director, Defence Information, Tukur Gusau, a brigadier general, on Thursday, January 25,  denied killing unarmed civilians in the LGA.

    It described allegations of unarmed civilians killing and other claims against its officers as untrue.

    The DHQ stressed that the troops of Operation Safe Haven restoring peace in the state carried out their duties professionally and by the rules of engagement.


    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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