By Marie – Therese Nanlong
Guchwet community in Shen District of Jos South local government area of Plateau State, where the body of Major General Idris Alkali (ret.), who had been missing for about two months, took the spotlight last Wednesday.
The hamlet made news for the wrong reason after the body of the general was traced to an abandoned well there.
The Army chief had disappeared at Dura, a community in the Du District of the local government area, on September 3, while in transit from Abuja enroute to Bauchi.
As a fall-out of the September 2 attack at Lo-Pamdyet by suspected herdsmen, angry youths, on September 3, had blocked the roads in the area, protesting the killings and the inability of soldiers, whose checkpoint was located a stone throw from the scene, to rise to the occasion.
Since the general was declared missing, residents of the communities in Du District had known no peace as the Army, acting on the instructions of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, left no stone unturned in finding Alkali, dead or alive.
The communities in the district, including Dura, Doi, Dwei, Lo-Pamdyet and Latya, were, consequently deserted.
The residents accused the Army of unprofessional conduct, harassment, intimidation, indiscriminate arrests and detention.
But the Army denied wrongdoing, stressing that the operation was devoid of human rights’ abuses and, in about two months, the search and rescue operation recorded success as the Army recovered the body of the missing general at Guchwet.
The leader of the operation, who is the Garrison Commander of the 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Umar Mohammed, had disclosed that one of the suspects, who turned himself in to Plateau State Police Command, confessed and led security agents to the said well.
As the feat was achieved, diverse opinions have been expressed about the operation.
While some commended the Army for a job well done, others faulted the security agency, saying the inability of the soldiers to arrest perpetrators of other crimes in battle weary Plateau showed that the Army was biased and chooses who deserves justice and who does not.
Although residents were not seen during the visit to the open shallow grave initially discovered at Dura and at Guchwet where Alkali’s body was eventually found to give their opinions, some residents of Jos South local government area expressed their views concerning the incident.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, one of the residents, Francis Dachomo, had his reservations about the entire incident, saying, “I am not in support of killing, no matter who the victim is but this entire exercise, from the beginning, looked somehow.
“To me, it shows there is more to it than meets the eye. No one, whether an Army general or a civilian, deserves to die in a violent manner and being put in the well, where the Army said they found the body of their ex-staff. “To kill a fellow human being like that is very wicked. I would not support such act no matter what.
“However, the Army must be commended for standing up for one of its own but this solidarity should not be limited to the Army personnel but also extended to the common man who is killed almost on daily basis without his killers being apprehended.”
Usman Kabir, resident in Bukuru, on his part, said the military should not be underrated as they are professionals who know their work.
He stressed, “We thank God that they were able to find the general, even if he is dead. Everything that happened also tells us that blocking roads and profiling people during crisis is a criminal act because many innocent passersby have lost their lives in situations like that. I will suggest that the Federal Government ensures that all mining ponds in the Berom enclave are searched. You may not know what would be revealed if such exercise is carried out.
“At this point, I am suggesting that those found guilty be severely punished so that, next time, no one will block the highway and remove passengers from a religion or tribe different from his from vehicles and even kill or injure them in the process.”
Meanwhile, a social critic, David Azzaman, posted the following on the social media, “Some Fulani, in various forums, have been mentioning my name and that of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, that we should say something on this incident. If they conduct a forensic search and it is found to be true that it is General Alkali’s body they found in the well, I will commend the Nigerian Army for their quick response to finding the killers of one Nigerian in less than two months of searching.
“But it is rather shameful that, in almost five months now, on the same Plateau, the killers of more than 300 Nigerians are yet to be found by the same Nigerian Army. And the suspects the Army is parading should be tried in an open civil court and represented by lawyers. Let’s be sure nobody is under duress.
“Can any pathologist furnish me with a picture or pictures of how a two-month old corpse looks like, so that l can compare with the one the military is presenting because I have not said anything yet? And if possible, we will need a closer view of the trousers and belt on the body. It looks like military uniform. And if it is a military uniform, a retired soldier shouldn’t be going to farm in uniform.
“Let the souls of the thousands of innocent Nigerians the authorities could not find their killers, including the Chief of Bokkos in Plateau State, the Chief of Numana and the Agom Adara in Kaduna State, thousands killed from Kaduna to Zamfara, Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa rest in peace.
“May General Alkali’s soul also rest in peace and may God give his wife and children the fortitude to bear the loss, may God comfort them.
“After the courts of law have proven beyond any doubt that the suspects are guilty, let the full course of the law be taken against those who killed General Alkali but if the courts also finds out that something is fishy somewhere and those paraded are not his killers, the military authorities need to be probed. What God hates is injustice.”