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Vigilantes Kill Seven Passengers, Others Missing in Taraba


Seven dead passengers have been found in a Taraba State forest after an attack on an 18-seater bus from Zaki Biam in Benue State to Maihula in Bali local government area of Taraba State on Tuesday.

According to the bus driver, Jimen Angera, the vigilantes attacked the bus at Gamkwe village in Mararaba-Baisa of Donga, a local government area of the state, while he was heading to Maihula.

In a phone interview with LEADERSHIP, Angera said the armed vigilantes were in large numbers with guns, machetes and other light weapons when they attacked his vehicle.

He said that 15 passengers were initially taken hostage by the protesting vigilantes as the driver, the bus conductor, Mpuuga Mbaave and one other person were able to escape.

Angera, however, said he escaped from the gunmen with machete cuts.

He narrated: “I loaded 18 passengers from Zaki/Biam, immediately after Mararaba, I saw many people in vigilante group’s uniforms, I suspected something was wrong and stopped. One of the villagers told me that I should go, two members of the vigilante group were killed by kidnappers, that is why they gathered, there is no problem. I should proceed.

“As I moved closer to them, some of the vigilantes started shouting, ‘kill all of them, it is their people that killed our members, they started attacking the passengers and inflicting machete cuts on them.

“They forced us out of the vehicle and made us lie face down. My bus was still on and when I discovered that it was getting out of hand, I jumped into the bus and abandoned the passengers. My conductor also followed me, all of us had machete cuts. Blood was coming out of our bodies. That was how we escaped and left the passengers in their hands.”

The Chairman of the Doonga Local Government Area, Hon Ezra Voka, confirmed the incident with LEADERSHIP on the phone.

Voka said he was already in the nearby forest searching for the victims.

He said: “Please, my friend, I am already in the bush in search for the missing people. We can‘t talk much now till I get more information from here.”

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, David Iloyonomon, confirmed that his men found seven bodies in the bush within the area while on patrol to control a crisis between Ichen and Tiv.

Iloyonomon said trouble started on the 12th (Tuesday) of March 2024 when Ichen youths from the Mararaba area of Donga reported to the police area command that a pastor and his church member were missing while on their way to the church.

On Tuesday at about 3pm, the youths found the decomposing bodies of both the pastor and the other person, that was when trouble started. The Ichen youths went into town and started attacking the Tiv residents. It took the efforts of our men to rescue some of the Tiv people to Takum for safety.

“Today, being Wednesday, while our men were on patrol to maintain law and order, they found seven dead bodies of five women, a man and a baby. They have been evacuated to the police station,” Iloyonomon stated.

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