Plateau State Killings: Victims Demand Justice After Military Shootings

Mrs. Tina Damden, wife of late Damden

As the dust settles on the recent attack in the Mangu local government area of Plateau State, the pain and suffering of the victims still linger.

The attack resulted in loss of lives, destruction of property worth millions of Naira, and left orphans, widows, and injured individuals struggling to recover in hospitals.

One of the victims, Mr. Sunday Yusuf, currently undergoing treatment at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), had his right hand amputated due to gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by the military.

Narrating the circumstances that led to the amputation of his hand, Yusuf, who lives at Angwan Sarki, close to the Mishkaham Mwaghavul Palace Stadium road in Mangu local government area of Plateau State, said the part of the town was not affected by the crisis of January 23, 2024.

According to him, while in their respective houses, suddenly they heard sporadic gunshots, and a few of them came out to find out who was responsible for the shooting, but only to see military men on gun trucks.

“On seeing the military, we thought they were on patrol as a result of the unfortunate incident that engulfed parts of the local government area. So we were calm and relaxed, thinking, but to our surprise, the military men turned their gun truck towards us and started shooting indiscriminately.

“We fled in different directions. In the process of running for our lives, my neighbor, Mr. Damden Daful Datom, a father of three, was hit by a bullet on his chest and fell down immediately, while another bullet from the gun truck hit my right hand and shattered it completely. After they left, some members of the community summoned the courage, came out of their houses, and discovered a pool of our blood.”

Yusuf, who was still in pain as a result of the amputation of his right hand, further explained that they were rushed to the Jos University Teaching Hospital, where Dantom was confirmed dead on arrival, and he was rushed to the emergency unit, where his right hand was amputated.

Despite seeking medical treatment and spending a significant amount of money, Yusuf stated that he is still grappling with the trauma of the attack, adding that he could not imagine that the soldiers sent to protect lives and properties could suddenly turn against armless civilians.

“Where I live was calm on that day; there was no attack, but these military men just appeared from nowhere and opened fire at innocent civilians. The incident has since been reported to all the relevant security authorities, but there has been no response from them as of the time I was talking to you,” he lamented.
The deceased’s family, led by Mr. Longs Datom, has also demanded justice, refusing to bury their loved one until a thorough investigation is carried out.

He narrated that there was no justification by the military to have opened fire on harmless and defenseless civilians who ordinarily deserved better protection from the military rather than killing them with heavy weapons.

“The deceased, Mr. Sunday Yusuf, the youth leader of the community, and a few women at the scene of the incident were unarmed and defenseless civilians who ordinarily were supposed to be protected by the military but were instead shot at close range, contrary to the rules of engagement from the military.

“We have written letters through our lawyers to the Inspector General of Police demanding a thorough investigation and prosecution. In another separate letter, a petition was written to the Chief of Defense Staff, General Christopher Musa, dated January 31, 2024, and received in his office on February 6, 2024, on behalf of the deceased family and the wounded, which was copied to Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State.

“The GOC 3rd Amoured Division and Commander Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), the DSS, and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice were equally copied. It is tilted: ‘Extral Judiciary killing of the late Damden Daful Datom and injury of Mr. Sunday Yusuf: Unprofessional conduct by the Military Personnel in Mangu and the demand for compensation and thorough investigation of the incident.”

He therefore called on the high military command to launch a thorough investigation to unmask those behind the killing and ensure that justice is served, adding that two weeks were given to the military to respond to the petition, which elapsed on February 20, 2024.

According to him, the deceased was the breadwinner of the family; he left behind his wife, Mrs. Tina Damden, and three children: Plangnan Damden, aged 14 years, Peter Damden, aged 9 years, and Dyelshak, aged 6 years, while Mr. Sunday Yusuf, a farmer whose hand has been amputated and will permanently suffer disability, will no longer go to the farm to feed his family and has four children and a wife with nobody to help.

The spokesman for the family stated that the entire family of the deceased and the man injured is deeply disturbed by the military’s silence over the incident and is seeking compensation for the victims.

Mrs. Tina, the wife of the deceased, joined the call for justice, citing clear evidence of the military’s involvement in the tragic event.

Responding, the Media officer officer of the Military Task Force, Capt. James Oya, said he is not aware of the incident but informed that since the family has written a petition, the petition unit of the task-force will respond to them.

Oya said the story as narrated by Mr Dantom cannot be true as the military cannot just open fire on innocent unarmed civilians who simply approached them for safety or to seek information.

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