Governor Caleb Mutfwang on Tuesday vowed to proceed with a planned Yule jam amidst rising fatalities from the weekend-long assault on Plateau communities, telling Peoples Gazette the deadly rampage won’t alter his government’s schedules because it did not affect the state capital Jos.
The governor’s refusal to readjust schedules for his December 31 evening out with Haitian musician Wyclef Jean came as responders informed Peoples Gazette that fatalities in killer herdsmen violence on rural dwellers in his state had risen to 162.
The updated figures came a day after The Gazette reported that 112 residents were killed in coordinated attacks across over a dozen villages in the central Nigerian state. Most of the victims were women and children, all targeted by rampaging pastoralists on a protracted mission to dislodge ancestral descendants and seize control of lush plains and tributaries filling the balmy region.
“We now have 162 bodies from all the places that local security people searched,” a volunteer medical worker Maria Mwantok told The Gazette shortly before noon on Tuesday. “Many people in Bokkos fled into nearby woods with gunshot wounds where they later bled to death.”
Scores of people were left critically injured in the attacks, which began Saturday afternoon and lasted till Sunday midnight in at least 15 villages across three local government areas — Bokkos, Barkin Ladi and Mangu.
As the attacks were underway, the governor posted a video on his X (formerly Twitter) handle announcing December 31 and January 1 for an upcoming party that would feature Wyclef and M.I. Abaga, a Nigerian entertainer from Plateau. M.I lamented the violence and prayed for victims in an X post on Monday.
“On behalf of the peaceful and loving people of Plateau state. I am honoured to welcome Wyclef Jean, a Grammy award-winning artiste and global music icon, and the Caribbean International Commerce Holdings Team to Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria,” MrMutfwang said in a video posted at 11:24 a.m. Sunday.
It will “be lit,” the governor said at the video’s end, after laying his plan to use the event to launch Plateau State Industrial Innovation and Technology Park in Jos, the state capital.
As the post drew a flurry of criticisms from citizens who slammed its timing as insensitive to the grieving families and the memories of the deceased, The Gazette reached the governor’s office to ask whether any plans were being considered to readjust the event’s schedule.
“Yes, it’s holding,” the governor’s chief press secretary, Gyang Bere, told The Gazette by telephone Tuesday morning.
Mr Bere said the governor and participants at the event would be totally safe from the herdsmen violence because the event would be held in the state capital, as against remote communities where insecurity had dislodged thousands.
“What is happening is not an issue in Jos city,” Mr Bere said, adding that what happened in the villages was “an attack outside.”
But in Jobs, “there is security on the ground,” the governor’s spokesman said. “Our event is still on the timeline,”