Amid the ravaging security challenge in the country, the Middle Belt Forum has advised its people to use whatever is available to defend themselves against terrorists.
The forum said it had lost faith in the President Muhammadu Buhari government to secure the lives and property of Nigerians.
In statement, Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President of the group, said the refusal of the government to deal with perpetrators of recurring killings reveals its complicity in the gale of bloodshed shredding the Middle Belt region.
He urged the Middle Belt people to be security conscious as they commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The statement read, “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum has been drawn to the renewed vicious attacks on communities of the Middle Belt region in Southern Kaduna, Southern Kebbi, Niger, Plateau and Benue State that have led to hundreds of lives lost and decimation of our once-thriving communities.
“On March 8, 2022, daredevil terrorists mounted an ambush for members of a vigilante group called ‘Yan-Sa-Kai’ in Zuru, Kebbi State, and eventually killed 65 of them. Attempts by the security forces to bring the bandits to justice led to the murder of 13 soldiers and five policemen, bringing the total number of the dead to 83.
“One week after the assault on Zuru Emirate, the blood-thirsty criminals attacked a police station in Nasko town in Magala Local Government Area of Niger State on March 15, 2022, where they slaughtered no fewer than eight people, comprising the divisional police officer, three policemen and four members of the community’s vigilante group.
“One week after the murder of the DPO and seven others in Nasko, another group of butchers, dressed in military uniforms, on March 22, 2022, launched an attack on four communities: Tsonje, Agban, Katanga and Kadarko, all within Kagoro Chiefdom in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State. No fewer than 34, according to the Kaduna State Government, were murdered and 35 homes razed down.
“Less than seven days after the bedlam on the four Kagoro communities, members of a madcap gang bombed an Abuja-Kaduna bound train on March 28, 2022.
“The blood-spilling outlaws abducted scores of passengers and murdered eight persons, among others. The Nigerian Railway Corporation is yet to account for the whereabouts of 165 passengers that were on the ill-fated trip.
“While the nation was mourning these avoidable murders, another deadly assault on Kadanye Village in Kajuru LGA and Akilbu village in Kachia LGA left eight persons, mostly women and children, dead, while 28 were abducted on April 6, 2022.
“These killings seemed to have hit the peak on Sunday, April 10, 2022, when another group of armed brigands pounced on four villages in Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau State and killed about 80 people in cold blood.
“While these communities were still in deep mourning, another terror group launched yet another deadly assault on a military base located in Pole Wire Village in Birnin Gwari LGA of Kaduna State, slaying 12 soldiers and injuring 19 military personnel.
“To clearly convince the world they were in charge, the bandits, in a video clip shot in front of the captured armoured tank, announced the release of the Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, Alhaji Alwan Ali Hassan, on compassionate grounds.
“Though they hinged the release of the BOA MD on the Ramadan season, the terrorists threatened to kill the kidnapped train passengers if the government did not meet their demands.
“Another group of gunmen would re-enact a horror scene on Monday, April 11, 2022, in three local government areas of Logo, Tarka and Guma in Benue State by killing no fewer than 25 persons, including a traditional ruler, Zaki Unongo Shaayange.
“In the three attacks on Plateau, Kaduna and Benue that took place within 24 hours, no fewer than 117 lives were lost, including 12 military personnel.
“It is instructive that as the 2023 campaigns gather momentum, the intensity of these attacks is set to increase, with the sole purpose of annihilating communities of the Middle Belt by the invaders.
“The increase in the level of massacres, the devastation of communities and kidnapping of members of the Middle Belt Region extraction is aimed at impoverishing and disempowering the people and creating chaos that will render them refugees in their own ancestral homes.
“The Middle Belt Forum completely condemns this gradual return to the bloody days of horrifying assaults that are presently assuming a genocidal level.
“No nation can survive this level of crippling insecurity that has rendered life short and brutish for many communities in the Middle Belt Region.
“We are irrevocably convinced that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has abandoned its constitutional responsibility of stopping these recurring deadly attacks on our peoples.
“We are still at a loss why the government has not found it expedient to engage local communities on how best to defend themselves against these highly sophisticated terrorists.
“We call on the international community to beam its searchlight on the horrendous massacres of the Middle Belt peoples being carried out under the watch of President Buhari.
“The refusal of the government to deal with perpetrators of these recurring killings reveals its complicity in the gale of bloodshed shredding the Middle Belt region.
“The Middle Belt region has lost faith in the capacity of President Buhari to secure the lives and property of Nigerians. We call on our people to be alert and use whatever is available to them to stand firm and resist these bloodthirsty invaders.”