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Plateau women storm Abuja, protest killings

Plateau State women protesting the killing of innocent women and children in Jos, yesterday, at the National Assembly, Abuja. Photo by Olamilkan Gbemiga

*GOC says Army acted professionally
*NYSC defies Reps, swears in corps members

By Taye Obateru & Luka Binniyat

JOS—HUNDREDS of  Plateau women, yesterday, staged peaceful demonstrations in Jos and Abuja against Sunday’s mayhem at Dogon Nahawa where hundreds, mostly women and children, were murdered.

This is just as the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Saleh Maina, yesterday, defended himself against allegations of inaction and bias in the handling of the recent crisis in the state, describing them as unwarranted.

The women who were dressed in black as a sign of mourning also displayed gory pictures of women and children hacked down during the attack. In Jos, they converged on ECWA headquarters from where they marched to the state House of Assembly and the Government House.

They repeated allegations of inaction against security agencies when distress calls were made to them and called for a thorough investigation of the attack.

Army acted professionally —GOC
But addressing journalists, yesterday afternoon, Major-General Maina said it was untrue that he was contacted when Sunday’s attack happened. Maina said his men acted on text messages received from unknown persons, some of which he said turned out to be misleading.

Stressing that he could not compromise professionalism for any reason, the GOC insisted that the army has, so far, acted professionally in handling the crisis.

Women in protest
Receiving the protesting women at the assembly, Speaker Istifanus Mwansat described what happened as unfortunate but urged the women to talk to their children not to take the laws into their hands to avert further trouble.

.... At the National Assembly

He said the House would take necessary action towards restoring peace and putting an end to the violence.
At the Government House, the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Pauline Tallen who received them said enough was enough of the violence in the state and called on all to be prayerful.

Tallen noted that women were often the worst victims in every crisis as they suffered loss of husbands and children and were often left to fend for themselves and the remaining children.

The deputy governor said the three-day fasting declared by Governor Jonah Jang to appease God for an end to the violence began yesterday and would end tomorrow.

Lawmakers in Abuja preach against vengeance
In Abuja, hundreds of sobbing women from Plateau State, all dressed in black, fought in vain to control flowing tears, as some Federal lawmakers from the state exhorted them on Biblical principles, saying the best way to fight back Sunday’s massacre in some villages near Jos, was to show love to the marauders, and not seek retaliation.

Hon. Bitrus Kaze, PDP, Plateau, told the women at the Hearing Room 1 of the House of Representatives: “That is what Jesus would want us to do, because that was what he did as they put him on the cross. The Bible said that, ‘vengeance is mine.’ We must not be driven to act in the same sub-human manner, like those who want to chase us out of our only ancestral land.

“Jesus has long bestowed in us the civilization of his teachings, and in the depth of our sorrow, we should take solace in him, not the sword. The world can now bear witness to the horrendous enemy before us, and I thank all of you for conducting yourselves so well since you came here. That is our culture, that is our heritage, and no amount of provocation must let us slip behind these standards.”

In the same manner, Senator Satty Gogwin, PDP, Plateau, pleaded with the women, not to allow youth to revenge.
The women who had come under the aegis of Plateau Women Development Association carried various placards condemning the killings asking that those that were involved be punished. Mrs. Priscila Sunday, whose seven children were slaughtered by the marauding invaders was among them.

House shocked at gory details
The House Leader, Hon. Tunde Akogun who represented the Speaker, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, during the protest visit expressed shock at the gory details of the massacre and promised the women that the National Assembly would not fold its arms until the culprits are brought to book.

In a presentation signed by the Vice President of the Association, Mrs. Margaret Bagas and the Secretary General, Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, the women demanded a change of security chiefs in Plateau State.

They said: “We have lost confidence in them. The Plateau State Women Association, Abuja Branch has watched with mounting alarm as criminals and murderous zealots are taking over Plateau State. This has led to the killings of hundreds of unprotected innocent people, including toddlers, aged mothers, pregnant women and the most hapless.

Some of the protesting women, in Jos.

“We have lost confidence in those saddled with the responsibility of protecting us. We strongly reject the genocide, the carnage and terrorism that have swept the one-time peaceful and hospitable people of the Plateau.

AG expresses disgust
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, yesterday, expressed disgust over the recent killings in Jos, stressing that he would not rest on his oars till the perpetrators are fished out for prosecution.

The AGF made this disclosure after he received a delegation from the government of Switzerland, who are in the country with a view to helping Nigeria fashion out ways of safeguarding human rights as well as tackling minority issues in the country.

Reps urge NYSC to stop deployment of corps members
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed a resolution calling on NYSC to re-deploy the 2010 batch ‘A’ corps members to neighbouring states pending the restoration of peace in Plateau. The house also urged the NYSC not to punish any corps member who was yet to report to the orientation camp in Plateau.

This resolution was sequel to a motion by Rep. Ekperikpe Ekpo, PDP, Akwa Ibom, which was unanimously adopted by members when put to vote by Speaker Dimeji Bankole.

Leading the debate, Ekpo called on the House to vote against the redeployment of defenceless corps members to Plateau taking into consideration the security situation in the state.

He recalled that corps member serving in the state who were trapped in the recent mayhem were evacuated and sent to their respective states of origin because of the security situation in the state, noting that “sending 1,211 corps members at this period when adequate security surveillance is needed to restore peace in the state could portend danger.”

Rep. Patrick Obahiagbon, PDP, Edo, who supported the motion wondered why any sane person would speak against it when the situation on ground was obvious and cautioned members to be resolute against the deployment of corps members to the state.

A cross section of Plateau State women protesting the killings of innocent women in the state, in Jos, yesterday.

Other members who supported the motion included Representatives Paul Adah, PDP, Cross River, and Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi, but the opposition from Reps Leo Dilkon, PDP, Plateau, George Daikon, PDP, Plateau, did not hold.

NYSC defies Reps, swears-in 902 corps members in Jos
In apparent defiance of the House of Representatives resolution that National Youth Service Corps members should not be sent to Plateau State until security could be guaranteed, 902 of the 1,202 corps members deployed to Plateau for the Batch ‘A’ 2010 service were yesterday sworn-in at the Jos Temporary Orientation Camp.

Addressing the members, Governor Jonah Jang commended the rare patriotism expressed by them in view of the recent happenings in the state.

Represented by the Chairman, State NYSC Governing Board, Mr. James Bakfur, Governor Jang assured the corps members of maximum security and peaceful service during their stay.

He said: “Many of you might have expressed fears about the people of our dear state, especially in the light of recent happenings. Let me use this opportunity to assuage your fears about your new environment and assure you of your safety everywhere in the state throughout the period of national service.”
Jang said the youth corps members would soon discover, in the course of their service, that the people of the state were truly hospitable.

Earlier, the State NYSC Co-ordinator, Tunde Baba-Ahmed, had described the corps members as bridge builders and the unifying agents of the country.

Baba-Ahmed said that registration remained open for the next six days in view of the peculiar nature in the state. He expressed confidence that with the large turn-out few days into the registration, the remaining 300 members would all register at the close of registration on Wednesday.

The coordinator said: “We have enough men deployed within and around the camp to provide security.’’
Some of the corps members said they were ready to serve in Plateau and were not contemplating redeployment. “I believe God brought me to Plateau for a purpose and I am here to serve my fatherland. I know there is no security anywhere in the country but I urge government to protect all Nigerians,” said Joy Ezechukwu from Anambra.

Reps order NECO to shelve aptitude test

Similarly, the House has also called on the National Examination Council, NECO, to shelve its planned aptitude test scheduled for March 13 at the six geopolitical zones of the country.

This was as a result of a motion by Rep. Dino Melaye, PDP, Kogi, who noted that the council was charging applicants N500 to participate in the exercise.

Leading the debate, Dino said the proposed exercise was capable of creating hardship for applicants who would travel long distances to the examination centres.

He said, “we must set a precedent that these applicants will go and write this exam without paying any amount of money. I want the House to take a decision that this exam be taken free. We should be seen to be on the part of the people.”


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