|Senator Gyang Dantong|
Nigeria's serving senator Gyang Dantong Dalyop of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), representing Plateau North has been killed by unknown gunmen at Maseh village in Riyom LGA of Plateau State. He was gunned down while attending the mass burial of about 50 persons gruesomely murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen during the Saturday morning attacks on villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state. The Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Gyang Fulani and several others persons were also killed at the event.
The gunmen reportedly stormed the venue of the burial and opened fire on mourners, causing more painful deaths and injuring many. Among the injured is the member representing Barkin-Ladi/Riyom Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Simon Mwadkon, who was sucessfully resuscitated at the Barkin-Ladi General Hospital.
Mustapha Salisu, spokesman for a special taskforce (STF) - an anti-insurgency security outfit - said assailants launched “sophisticated attacks” on several villages near Jos early Saturday"... “They came in hundreds...and some had (police) uniforms and some even had bulletproof vests.”
Senate President David Mark today described the killing of Senator Gyang Dantong as shocking, saying "the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians must be stopped." Describing Dantong’s death as a personal loss, the Senate President described the deceased as "a patriotic parliamentarian, quintessential gentleman and committed nationalist who was killed in active service to his fatherland”.
SPACES FOR CHANGE condemns the Sunday, July 8, 2012 killings in very strong terms, and decries the recurrent violent clashes and sectarian crisis in Jos. Successive administrations of the state have set up various committees and commissions of inquiry that have examined these issues, but the reports from these bodies, and the occasional government white paper, have mostly been shelved.
Furthermore, the death of these prominent Nigerians introduces a new twist to the unprecedented bloodletting and human carnage currently witnessed in Northern Nigeria, suggesting that the attacks are possibly shifting from ordinary citizens to the ruling class. In very swift response to the killings, a very mournful Senate (Nigeria's highest legislative body) has vowed to pass stiffer anti-terrorism laws. Will this latest trend jolt the leadership out of their complacency to treat security with the absolute seriousness it deserves? Only time will tell.