As gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen launched an attack on Ariri community in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, a woman who identified herself as Helen Agho recalled how gunshots woke her and her family around midnight on October 17 2018.
Born to a family of seven with two brothers and three sisters, Helen in an interview with Vanguard on Sunday, narrated her encounter with the Fulani herdsmen that has since left her in trauma after the incidence that claimed the life of her father and virginity of her two sisters.
Hailed from Edo state, Helen was bred and brought up in Kano state (Northern part of Nigeria) before her family relocated to Miango district in Bassa LGA, Jos in the year 2005.
While narrating her ordeal she said: “On that fateful day, I came back home very late after the long day at work. I remembered my father and mother told me to lock the door before going to sleep, which I did as instructed (Sighs).
“At about 11.30pm, I heard a loud bang some few miles to our house. At first, I thought the sound was coming from the men of the Task Force Agency on duty but to my amazement, I heard the sound the second time, which became louder than the first. At this point, my parents and all my siblings had already woken up. We all started praying as fear had already gripped our minds (since we don’t know where the noise was coming from).
“Not long after, the noise drew closer to where we were all saying our silent prayers, not knowing that would be my father last prayer on earth (Sobs). Suddenly, some armed men (three of them) with daggers and some other dangerous weapons had taken possession of where we were sitting. Immediately they saw us praying, they started saying “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is greater”, insulting our Christian faith and making mockery of our religion.
“As we lay there on the ground, one of the herdsmen came to where we were and pointed his gun at us (I and my two siblings). As the Fulani man was about to lay with one of us, my father who was really mad at him jumped up and grabbed him, and they began to wrestle each other.”
Helen’s mother, Mrs. Agho shouted for them to run, Helen said.
“My mother and grandmother ran away while I stood there crying and calling for help,” Helen said. “But as this was going on, another Fulani man got hold of my immediate sister, and took out his prick right in my own eyes to lay with her. I couldn’t help crying when I saw what happened.”
She watched as her father (Samuel Agho) and the other Fulani wrestled. Thereafter, the two herdsmen who just finished having intercourse with her younger sisters stabbed her father, who was holding tightly to the other Fulani. At this point, Helen began to scream to alert the neighbours of what was going on.
“After a serious confrontation, one of the herdsmen shot into the air. The shooting brought my father down in the process, and after sensing that they had killed my father, the Fulani men left,” Helen said.
“I ran back to the village and saw an open door to a room in another house, where I entered and hid. I was in there until the following morning. I haven’t been able to recover from the trauma since the incidence, I just feel like throwing the whole experience behind me so I can move on with my life but I can’t just forget this encounter that took my joy away (Cries)”
On how she got to know the perpetrators were fulani herdsmen she said “How I got to know that they were Fulani herdsmen was that they disguise themselves as uniform men speaking native Fulani language. Also, I later confirmed from one Lawrence Zongo who happened to be the spokesman for our district Miango as at when the incidence happened.”
For her part, Helen said she was saddened that the Nigerian government has taken no serious measures to end such attacks, thanking the media for their effective coverage of happenings within and outside the areas affected by the attacks.
According to the spokesperson for the Plateau state police command, Matthias Tyopev, a Deputy superintendent of police when contacted to clear the air over the alleged attack said: “The police force was not fully informed when the incidence happened but as soon as I get details from the commissioner of Police, I would get back.”
But as at the time of filing this report, he had yet to get back to our correspondence.