Probe renewed Plateau killings
After a few years of uneasy lull, the ominous peace that had subsisted in the Jos areas of Plateau State was shattered last week with the massacre of 29 people, mostly women and children, in a school where the military had kept them for their supposed safety in Nkiedonwhro, Irigwe Chiefdom.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State had imposed a curfew following an upsurge in raids by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen.
Soldiers from Operation Safe Haven, Op-SH, sent to enforce order were reported to have, during the night of the fateful attack, engaged the marauding herdsmen in an exchange of gunfire and repelled them, only to leave the area soon after, thus giving the pastoral militia the chance to return and murder the defenceless villagers in cold blood.
Sources said these attacks were reprisals in the wake of a Fulani boy who was killed while tending to his cattle.
President Muhammadu Buhari reacted to these ugly incidents by ordering the military to “end the killings”.
In spite of this, however, the raids have continued, with hamlets within the vicinity being invaded at night and homes torched.
The massacres on the Plateau, which have been traced to “indigene/settler differences”, have haunted the Plateau region for the best of 20 years.
Up to 12 committees of enquiry, probe panels and peace accords have been initiated to no avail.
The indigenes insist that the pastoral invaders are determined to depopulate and acquire their homelands for themselves and their livestock.
The most worrisome part of the cycles of blood-letting on the Plateau, particularly the latest incident, is the accusation of “men in military uniform” being linked to complicity in the massacres? We are aware that insurgent and militant groups, including armed robbers, often wear police and military uniforms to gull their victims.
But we are also aware of complaints about the alleged “partiality” being displayed by some uniformed men on security duties around the country.
We call on the Federal Government to go beyond merely ordering the military to end the killing spree and inquire into the allegations of complicity by some misguided elements within our security forces in their various theatres of operation.
All Nigerians, irrespective of their backgrounds, must be reassured that the security forces are there for their protection.
A situation whereby invaders continue to kill innocent citizens and displace them from their villages in spite of military presence does not inspire confidence in the country or the government’s ability or readiness to protect them as the constitution demands.
The security agencies must wake up to their duties and not wait until the President gives them orders before they do their duties.
We demand that the invaders be unmasked and brought to justice. Nigerians must be permanently safe in their communities.