Richard Ginika Izuora
Twenty five victims have been identified as having lost their lives after bandits attacked their vehicles on Saturday in Plateau State.
Their identities have also been released although there are still conflicting figures on number of deaths and those wounded.
The killing of 23 people returning from a Muslim festival in Nigeria was a premeditated ambush for which suspects have already been arrested, authorities said on Sunday.
Deadly violence is common in Nigeria, with roads becoming particularly dangerous as armed attackers and kidnappers target travellers.
In a statement, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned Saturday’s ambush in central Plateau State of buses returning from a religious festival in nearby Bauchi state.
Though details of the attack were unclear, some media suggested a Christian militia was to blame.
“It is clear this was a well-conceived and prearranged assault on a known target, location and religious persuasion of the travellers, not an opportunist ambush,” Buhari said.
“A direct, brazen and wickedly motivated attack on members of a community exercising their rights to travel freely and to follow the faith of their choosing.”
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong said security agencies had arrested 20 suspects and imposed a 6 a.m.-6 p.m. curfew in the area due to fear of reprisals.
“This is purely a criminal conduct and should not be given any ethnic or religious colouration,” he said.
Nigeria has been plagued by violence in recent years: conflicts between farmers and cattle herders have killed thousands, while a 12-year war against Islamist militants has led to an estimated 350,000 deaths.
The incident happened at about 10.30am around Gada-Biyu–Rukuba road area in Jos, the Plateau state capital.
Eyewitness say the attackers targeted five coaster buses which were trapped in a gridlock, drag the victims out of their vehicles and attacked them with machetes, daggers, knives, stones and other dangerous weapons.
The victims were mainly of Fulani origin who were returning to Plateau State; after attending the annual Zikr (prayer session) organized by Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, to mark the commencement of Muharram, the new Islamic New Year.
It was learnt that about 36 persons were rescued unhurt from the attack and in good condition.
Lalong, has imposed curfew on three local governments – Jos North, Jos South and Bassa LGAs, with effect between 6pm and 6am.
Identity of the travelers killed in the attack obtained by Humangle, include
Sule Alhaji Baido, Mallam Ahmadu, Siddi Abubakar, Abdulkarim Mumini, Mallam Suleiman, Mallam Salihu Halilu, Hadimin Mallam Musa Shehu, Mallam Muhammadu
and Mallam Bello Ori.
Others are Alhaji Muhammadu Lawal, Mallam Abdulkarim, Alhaji Rugga, Baa Alhaji Bayo, Gambo Alhaji Baido, Alhaji Usman Lolo Shagari, Mallam Maude Alhaji Baido
Ibrahim Haruna, Mallam Muhammad II, Salihu Hunter, Yakubu Mallam Bello and Mallam Isyaku and four unidentified victims.
The victims have since been buried in accordance with Islamic rites with the Police expanding search to catch the bandits.