By Marie-Therese Nanlong – Jos
Citizens of Plateau State are not new to mass and isolated attacks and killings in communities as such were almost daily occurrences in the State but the trend was reversed for some months as there were no rampant cases of such incidences.
However, the people were jolted back to reality on Wednesday night when gunmen which the State Police Command said were “suspected herdsmen” attacked Kulben community in Kombun district of Mangu local government area killing over a dozen people and injuring others.
This resurfaced incident has renewed citizens’ call for state/community policing to ensure armless communities are not exposed to unnecessary maiming and destruction of lives and property.
South West has recently unveiled its own community policing which it tagged “Operation Amotekun”.
It would, however, be recalled that the administration of former Plateau Governor, Jonah Jang which had a fair share of community attacks had established a community-based policing structure, Operation Rainbow for early warning signals; although this outfit is backed by law, it was met with stiff opposition and criticisms for whatever reason until the outfit became comatose especially as Jang left office.
Operational vehicles purchased for the outfit were distributed across the 17 local government areas of the State and it was not strange seeing spouses of the local government Chairmen using the Hilux vehicles as official vehicles.
Faced with the reality on ground, his successor, Simon Lalong tried to resuscitate the outfit but it largely remained ineffective with lack of personnel and work tools but only recently, the outfit launched a free mobile app to track violent crimes but with illiteracy, no or fluctuating network in most communities, it is yet to be seen how the gadget would help in fighting crimes.
Speaking on what could be done to curb attacks, citizen Bitrus Kaze said, “The attack coming on the day Operation Amotekun (the homebred security outfit) was launched in Abeokuta by governors from the South West, Governor Simon Lalong should take a cue and consolidate on the Operation Rainbow by domesticating it further in both content and context. The time is now for the government and people of Plateau state to design our own means of survival, nobody else understands our plight better.”
Another, Mashat Makut stated, “Yes, Plateau is a God-fearing State occupied by peace-loving natives, indigenes and settlers. America’s age-long motto is in God we trust, but they don’t rest in that cliché when it comes to facing the enemy headlong. We need a Plateau local vigilante police now or never. If Operation Rainbow is ineffective then we do away with it completely and work with the local vigilante to set up a Plateau Police.
“The Southwest Governors only recently set up regional local police. Since the Era of Governor Joshua Dariye, Jonah Jang and now Governor Simon Lalong the
“kingdom of Plateau suffereth violence”, we have to take recourse to the scriptures to act accordingly. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
“If we ever doubted the collective will of the locals spearheaded by the traditional institutions then this is the time to have a deep rethink. If the old way isn’t working, then we have to change tactics. We alone can free ourselves from the onslaught of the attackers on a mission to claim our lands and heritage.
“Plateau needs a local vigilante policing structure peculiar to our terrain. This nonsense has to stop now or never. May the departed souls find rest with the Lord.”
Again Member representing Jos South/Jos East federal constituency, Dachung Bagos stated, “As a representative of the people, I want to reiterate my strong stand and need for State and community policing to safeguard lives and property. I urge all communities to always be vigilant and conscious while I call on the security agencies to be proactive and ensure speedy and thorough investigation to bring all perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice.”
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang noted, “We don’t need to imitate anyone, we have Operation Rainbow which is effective but it depends on the law guiding its establishment. Like any other security outfit, it has its challenges but it is just to strengthen it.
“The matter is not just with the Operation Rainbow, the matter of security, we know government has the responsibility of securing the people and property but security is everybody’s business. The Peace Building Agency has been doing a lot of dialoguing so if people choose not to live in peace with one another then they will not.
“I don’t have any knowledge of any regional or North Central security outfit like what the South West just did but we have Operation Rainbow here in the State.”