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Nigerian University Fines Students for Protesting Faulty Military Response to Terrorism

Tears Fall for Student Leader Armen Fompun Who Died in Effort to Save Crippled Colleague

By Masara Kim

(Bokkos) Hundreds of students queued up on May 8 to settle fines imposed on the entire student body by Plateau State University Bokkos following a recent campus protest. Simultaneously, heartbroken community members gathered to pay their respects to fallen student leader Armen Caleb Fompun, killed while attempting to rescue a friend during a recent terrorist attack near the campus.

Despite facing gunfire from soldiers, who fatally shot one student and injured four others, according to Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Shedrack Best, university authorities levied fines totaling $55,800 on all its 9,300 students – roughly $6 per student – as punishment for their perceived “indiscipline” during the protests. Meanwhile, a poignant reminder of the military’s inability to safeguard vulnerable residents in the face of terror attacks hangs in the form of Mr. Fompun’s obituary photo, adorning the frontage of his family’s rusty home in the capital city of Jos.

Fompun, a brave neighborhood-watch leader in his community in Jos, was killed as he attempted to rescue his crippled colleague who was trapped in a student compound where they both lived during a terrorist attack on April 19, witnesses tell TruthNigeria.

During the terrorist invasion at approximately 1 pm local time, soldiers stationed at the university’s entrance reportedly were shooting in the direction of unarmed students. Approximately 800 students were protesting the military’s lack of response on the previous night’s attack that killed a student just 600 meters away.

Mr. Dadin James Jordan, a 30-year-old Computer Science student at Plateau State University, was among three local residents killed by terrorists who attacked the village of Chikam, where he resided, TruthNigeria learned.

 TruthNigeria has reported how more than 1,000 student protesters gathered on the morning of April 19th, placing Jordan’s body in front of soldiers at a nearby checkpoint, only to face gunfire from a military task force led by Col. Cyril Ofurumazi. While Vice Chancellor Prof. Best maintains that only one student was killed and four injured during the “student riots,” witnesses allege a higher death toll.

As soldiers fired near unarmed protesters at the eastern entrance to the campus, armed terrorists launched a brazen assault on the campus from the western side, unleashing gunfire without encountering resistance, according to witnesses interviewed by TruthNigeria.

Known affectionately as “Mayor,” Fompun became an only hope for Samuel Samson Danasani, a childhood polio survivor unable to run from danger, TruthNigeria learned. However, Fompun’s heroic efforts were cut short when he was shot in the leg by terrorists and subsequently attacked with machetes, close to a compound where he lived with his friend Danasani near the university’s northwestern fence.

“They shot him and battered his face with machetes just as he was running to come and assist me to escape,” said Danasani in a telephone interview.

Fompun became the 17th victim in a two-day onslaught by both terrorists and ineptly deployed soldiers whose mission was to protect citizens from criminals. The area, located 42 miles south of the capital city of Jos, is home to  Ron and Mwagavul ethnicities, but the Fulani ethnicity has a settlement near the campus on its northwest border. The Bokkos County (Local Governance Area) was the scene of 300 massacred Christians since December 2023, according to media reports. Since those massacres during the six-day period from Dec. 24, the Nigerian Army has refused to explain why the military did not engage the swarms of terrorists that attacked 33 towns almost simultaneously.

The attacks, attributed to Fulani terrorists guided by an unidentified organization, are part of a wider agenda by Islamist extremists seeking to assert dominance in Africa’s most populous country, according to Bishop Hassan Kukah, a respected church leader. The Fulani, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group with significant political influence, have been implicated in numerous genocidal attacks, killing six times more Christians than Boko Haram in recent years, according to the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.

Between January 2023 and January 2024, Fulani terrorists were reportedly responsible for more than 8,200 Christian deaths across Nigeria, with the most egregious acts of violence occurring during a six-day rampage last December, as documented by the international genocide tracking nonprofit Intersociety.

“These people want power,” wrote Bishop Kukah in a recent press statement. “They want it on their own terms,” Kukah wrote. “They want their own kind of Nigeria according to their ideology,” wrote the Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Archdiocese in northwest Nigeria.

“These killings are just a preface. These killings are no longer acts by herders and farmers over grazing fields. No, there is more,” wrote Kukah in the statement reported by Channels TV.

The escalating attacks, which have recently concentrated within a 15-mile radius of Plateau State University Bokkos, pose an existential threat to the institution, warned Prof. Best.

“We are surrounded by hostile neighbors whose values directly oppose our mission and aspirations,” Prof. Best said on May 6, during a meeting attended by Gov. Caleb Mutfwang. A litany of assaults faced by the university community, included unauthorized grazing on university premises, pulling down the campus perimeter fence to enable grazing, assaults on students during rehearsals, student kidnappings, rapes of female students, and killings in surrounding villages, were cite by Prof. Best.

Governor Mutfwang, in response, vowed to enhance security measures for the university and its environs.

“We will defend Plateau State,” declared the Governor before a crowd of 2,000 attendees. “We are committed to safeguarding the legacies of Plateau, including Plateau State University,” he asserted passionately. However, despite his reassuring words, the ongoing threats continued to weigh heavily on the minds of thousands of staff and students.

Just 24 hours later, on May 7, a senior lecturer at the university fell victim to terrorists, abducted from his residence located a mere 2 miles from the university, according to TruthNigeria’s investigations.

Mr. Joshua Yohanna, Head of the University’s Geography Department, was snatched by Fulani-speaking terrorists as he stepped from his house around 8 p.m. local time, witnesses tell TruthNigeria. University officials confirmed the incident to TruthNigeria but offered no further details.

News of his kidnap has recalled ongoing persisting terror threats wracking the university and the surrounding areas, forcing civilian residents to band themselves into self-defense groups to survive.

Throughout Nigeria, these grassroots volunteers, commonly known as “vigilantes,” have emerged as the frontline defense for thousands of communities facing terror threats amid accusations of military complicity.

Despite facing off against heavily armed terrorists, often outnumbering them by staggering margins, the military in Plateau state views these groups of 20 to 30 volunteers armed with homemade single-shot pipe guns as “militias.”

In the lead-up to the student’s killing near Plateau State University on April 18 and subsequent campus shootings the following day, witnesses reported a tense standoff between hundreds of terrorists and tens of vigilantes in the farming town of Butura Kampani, just two miles from the university. The vigilantes had successfully repelled an attack by more than 300 terrorists, TruthNigeria learned. But when soldiers arrived two hours later at 4 pm local time, they formed a blocking force between the civilian guards and the terrorists, residents told TruthNigeria. The soldiers did not engage the invaders, witnesses told TruthNigeria.

According to town leader Danladi Mahanan, the soldiers arrived after the attackers had retreated, and instead of aiding the defense effort, they arrested and disarmed more than 20 self-defense volunteers, labeling them as militias. Meanwhile, the terrorists roamed freely, shooting and setting fire to houses, said Mahanan to TruthNigeria.

“It was only by the grace of God that we survived, because we were surrounded, and the soldiers had corralled us into one area,” Mahanan recounted. “Many of our women and children managed to escape during the initial invasion; otherwise, we don’t know what would have happened,” he added, lamenting the loss of one vigilante member during the second wave of the invasion.

According to him, the terrorists reluctantly withdrew around 9 p.m. and moved northeast of the town, where they proceeded to kill four residents, including a vigilante and a student [Dadin James Jordan]. This followed after they realized that most civilian residents had fled the town, he said.

During the onslaught on Chikam village which lasted from 11 p.m. until midnight, only resisted by vigilantes according to locals, a similar attack 15 miles away, killed 11 residents in Tilengpat, located in Mangu county.

In total, more than 17 people were killed in the region that fateful night, with at least two others – both students falling victim to subsequent attacks the following day, including one at the hands of the military.

Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter in Jos, and the senior editor of TruthNigeria

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