From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned in strong terms the attack on Saturday on travellers from a religious event in Bauchi, passing through Jos, the Plateau State capital.
He also expressed regrets about the reported deaths of at least 22 persons with several others injured in the ambush on their travelling party.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, President Buhari has ordered security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of what he called ‘this gruesome massacre of innocent travellers’ and bring them to justice.
He noted that the attack is not an agriculturalist-on-pastoralist confrontation – but rather 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.
President Buhari added that with the evident preparedness of their attackers, 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.
He stressed that it is widely known that Plateau State has been one of the states affected by herder-farmer clashes, which have, in a significant way, been curtailed following the intense peace-building efforts of the administration of Governor Simon Lalong.
President Buhari condoled with the families of the victims and continues to liaise closely with the local authorities – including security, the police, and governmental agencies.
‘These kinds of attacks on our country’s citizens are unacceptable, heinous, and stand in complete contradiction to the teachings of the great religions of our nation,’ he said.
The president said his administration stands steadfast with both Christians and Muslims at this time in condemnation of this latest attack and expects and insists that justice is swiftly – but fairly – delivered to the perpetrators.
‘Make no mistake about it: in line with my commitment to protect all Nigerians, I have ordered our security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of this gruesome massacre of innocent travellers and bring them to justice,’ the president said.
As the facts of the sad incident continue to unfold, he commended the ongoing efforts by the Governors of Plateau, Bauchi, and Ondo; the Sultan of Sokoto His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar III and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi as well as a number of notable Christian and Muslim leaders as they intensify efforts to calm down the situation.