By Ben Osawe
As at the 18th May, 2023 the list of villages over run by terrorists in Mangu LGA of Plateau state are: Kubwat _ Bwai, Fungzai _ Bwai, Aloghom_ Mangu, Ntam_ Mangu, Ligit-lubang/Sabon Layi_ Bungha, Jwakji- Panyam, Washna _ Panyam, Jwak-maitumbi _Halle, Murish_ Halle, Kikyau_ Halle Danhausa_ Halle, Gongong_ Halle, Gyambwas_Halle, kyampuus, Ntul- Halle, Gwet _ Pushit, Jwakchom_ Pushit. Larkas_ Pushit ,Jwak Ras _ Mangu, Kantoma, Gaude.
These attacks have left more than one hundred (100) poor, weak and vulnerable dead with mass burials ongoing as at the afternoon of 18/5/2023
What has happened in central Plateau in the last few days and weeks as we reflect are obvious “elements” of the crime of genocide as defined in Article 6 of the Rome Statute.
The key indicators which fit the above statute(Article 6) are (a)widespread and systematic nature of the acts. (b) intensity and scale of acts and invariability of killing methods used against the people(c) types of weapons employed (in particular weapons prohibited under international law) (d) the extent of bodily injury caused is designed to reach the foundations of the people group. (e) the nature of the atrocities, e.g., dismemberment of those already killed reveal a level of dehumanization of the people group and its intended to send a message of total control of the perpetrators over the poor, weak and vulnerable villagers. (f)The destruction of or attacks on cultural and religious property and symbols of the targeted group that may be designed to annihilate the historic presence of the group or groups.
The tragedy is that there has been a media blackout of the killings, government at the highest level has been non-responsive, its eerie silence across the land while the blood of the poor, weak and vulnerable flows ceaselessly.
However, the real tragedy is that if there is silence across the land should the Church on the Plateau also lose its voice? Should the Church on the Plateau also be a spectator of this wickedness and allow this level of bloodshed in the land?
What is God’s mind? Some might call a time of prayer and fasting for the land. This though good in themselves is not the totality of His call at this time. ‘ Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? ‘Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast? a day acceptable to the LORD?(Isaiah 58:5)
The Eternal God calls the Church on the Plateau to a time of TRUE FAST! “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? ?(Isaiah 58:6)
As we listen carefully to the LORD, its clear that the LORD is saying to us at this time what he said to the teachers of the law and Pharisees in Mathew 23:23 – ‘you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.(Mathew 23:23).
10. In the next coming days we would as Church on the Plateau give our give a tenth of our spices—mint, dill and cumin by way of relief to satisfy our consciences and appear that we are intervening to bring succour to the survivors? Really?
The poor, weak and vulnerable who have been historically excluded and living undignified lives just want the RIGHT to live and be all the Lord intended them to be like the rest of us. Is this too much to ask?.
Is it unbiblical for the Churches on the Plateau to come together as a first instance to hold a press conference and provide the facts to the matter drawing attention to the issues and calling for immediate action by state authorities at all levels while pursuing the matter in other spaces nationally and internationally? The time to Act is now?
‘We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing — for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’ — for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?’(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)