…Plateau declares 24-hour curfew in Jos as troops rescue more victims of attack
…Perpetrators must be brought to book, govs tell security agencies
…Police arrest 20 suspects, rescue 33 victims
…IGP deploys Intervention team, led by DIG Lemu
…CAN, MACBAN want perpetrators fished out, punished
…Produce, prosecute killers, Akoko youths tell govt
…Atiku, Deputy Reps speaker condemn killings
By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Dirisu Yakubu & Ibrahim Hassan
The Jama’Atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar II, yesterday warned against ethno-religious conflict in the country, following the killing in Plateau State of 22 travellers returning from a religious event in Bauchi on Saturday.
Recall that some persons suspected to be Irigwe youths had opened fire on a convoy of five buses conveying some Moslem faithful who were heading to Ikare, Ondo State, from an annual Zikr prayer in Bauchi, killing 22, while several others sustained injuries, with many still missing.
The Sultan spoke on a day Plateau State government imposed a 24-hour curfew on three local government areas of the state, including Bassa, Jos South and Jos North, as a result of the crisis.
These came as Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, yesterday ordered immediate deployment of Police Intervention Team to Plateau State to carry out on-the-spot assessment and ensure enhanced, coordinated response to protect the community and boost public confidence in the affected areas of the state.
This is even as Plateau State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, did not only condemn the killings but also asked the federal government to fish out the perpetrators and punish them.
Sultan blames politicians for Plateau killings
Reacting to the killings, the Sultan in a statement signed by JNI’s Secretary-General, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, blamed politicians for the incident which he noted could snowball into ethno-religious conflict, if not urgently nipped in the bud.
“We call on governments and the security agencies not to be deterred on the search for the Rukuba Road assassins and whosoever is found wanting should be dealt with accordingly. The Plateau State Government should also be more proactive in saving the lives and property of innocent Nigerians.
“Muslims, particularly those residing in Plateau, should be steadfast with supplications, as all hands must be on deck to make Plateau State a peaceful and tourist attraction it used to be, for the benefit of the state and all peace-loving Nigerians.
‘’We also like to draw the attention of Christian neighbours, especially in Plateau State and Northern Nigeria in particular, to be wary of the diabolical attempts by some frustrated politicians to ignite an all-out ethno-religious conflict in Northern Nigeria.
“Many states in Northern Nigeria, especially Nasarawa and Kaduna states, and by extension North-Western states, have suffered from the scourge of herders and farmers conflict. It is on records that Muslims in these states have never blocked highways or roads to attack Christians or other non-Muslims in their localities.
“Not quite long ago, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic was attacked by armed bandits and some people lost their lives, including a student. Yet, the students of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, located just about 50 metres away from Kaduna-Zaria-Kano highway, never embarked on any violent outburst or targeted killings.
“Therefore, a stitch in time saves nine and nobody should live under any illusion of having a monopoly of violence.”
Speaking further, the Sultan said: “This tragedy cannot be swept under carpet; we have a firm conviction that this unwarranted attack on these helpless Muslims was a well thought-out pogrom.
“It is also rather unfortunate that men in position of authority will call this brutal act as a mistaken identity, does this rather suggest the affirmation of ethnic or religious profiling which is seen as a norm? No life, we repeat, no life is worth taking save as stipulated.
“The Muslim community recalls with nostalgia the unfortunate assassination of Major-General Idris M. Alkali, by the Du community and how they subsequently dumped his vehicle in a pond and threw his dead body into a ditch. It is heart-rending that the perpetrators arrested have not been brought to justice.
“We would like to stress that so long as government and its agencies continue to treat serious security matters with levity, anarchy and disorder invariably becomes an exclusive preserve of those affected, no matter how long it will take.
‘’It should be noted that the late general meritoriously served the Nigerian Army for 35 years and was a fine gentleman. Nonetheless, the perpetrators are yet to be punished.
“What more do we expect for ordinary unarmed citizens numbering twenty-two (22) persons, murdered in cold blood, according to the PPRO, Plateau State Command, although the figures could be much more that twenty-two persons, as no one is talking about the severely injured.
“We nonetheless expect something definite and decisive. We however call on the Ikare Muslim community of Ondo State to be calm. The JNI is not oblivious of the fact that some years back, Muslims from Ningi in Bauchi State were waylaid and killed in Langtang, Plateau State.
“Again, Muslims from Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States have been waylaid and killed around Riyom on several occasions. Muslims traveling from Chad Republic through Riyom were killed in 2008.
“Muslims, just like any traveller, have to pass through Plateau State to get around to their various destinations. Thus, the late General Alkali was gruesomely murdered simply because he was a Muslim traveler plying the road. In all these incidences nobody has been brought to justice.
“It is a well-known fact that when indigenous peoples of Plateau rustled Fulani cattle and killed herders and Fulanis take the laws into their hands they quickly shout hell and target Muslims generally.
‘FG, state govt must be decisive on this’
“The state and Federal Government cannot fold its arms and allow innocent Nigerians to be killed in this manner. Government must be decisive in sending a message of deterrence.
“Be that as it may, the JNI is perplexed and bewildered over the seeming unfortunate mayhem that resurfaced in Jos and its environs, despite all the series of re-enforcements for peaceful co-existence in Plateau State.
“Clearly, there seems to be a well-calculated design aimed at undermining and sabotaging the gains made so far. Likewise, the recent Jos mayhem witnessed new trends adopted by the murderers in targeting only Muslims while venting their anger!
“The massacre of Muslims on an Eid day, on the Rukuba Eid ground and publicly cannibalizing the victims is still fresh in our memories; sometime in June, 2018, when they blocked high ways and killed several Muslims and vandalized their vehicles.
“We are saddened by the apparent, hypocritical and double standard of the local and international human rights groups as well as civil society organisations.
“Why is it that if Muslims are killed/massacred or maimed, the international organisations and human rights activists always keep mum and pretend as if no life has been lost? Is there difference of lives locally or internationally as regards the sacred nature of it?
“The hypocritical disposition of these groups is condemnable, because anytime there is an unfortunate crisis where Nigerians other than Muslims are at the receiving end, these organisations would always rise to the occasion by condemning such act and rallying support for the perceived victims. The media is always awash with such stories.
“We have repeated it times without number that the sanctity of life in Islam is to the extent that if any life is lost unjustly by an act of any individual is tantamount to killing the whole humanity, likewise if life is saved or secured is tantamount to saving the whole of humanity, as the Glorious Qur’an enunciated.
‘’The institution and administration of criminal justice has to therefore buckle up and make the citizenry see that justice has not only being but seen as done, because there is life in law of retribution – as Allah The Almighty succinctly says, perpetrators must be prosecuted within time and those found wanting shall face the wrath of the law. This will go a long way in curbing the culture of impunity.
“By and large, the JNI is calling on the government to as a matter of reconciliation identify the culprits and bring them to justice.”
Plateau govt slams curfew on affected LGs
Also yesterday, the Plateau State Government imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew on Bassa, Jos South and Jos North local government areas as a result of the killings.
The government said it is concerned about persisting tensions and reported attempts by some persons to take the laws into their hands by threatening to attack individuals and private facilities, as well as public property.
The governor’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, who stated this in a statement yesterday, said: “Hours after announcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew in three local government areas of Jos North, Jos South and Bassa, Governor Simon Lalong has directed the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in Jos North to contain further security threats.
“In the directive, the governor said ‘from 2pm of today, Sunday, August 15, 2021, a 24-hour curfew will come into effect in Jos North Local Government Area. This is necessitated by security reports which indicate rising threats to the safety of lives and properties within the local government.
“The governor, therefore, urges citizens to abide by the curfew and remain indoors to allow security agencies maintain law and order and deal with those bent on causing chaos.”
Troops rescue 7 victims
However, troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH) yesterday morning, rescued seven more victims of the recent attack on commuters in Jos.
Major Ishaku Takwa, the military Information Officer, said: “The victims have been taken to a safe place for medical attention and care. The troops are still on search operation to find the remaining missing victims.”
NGF condemns killings
In its reaction yesterday, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, said in a statement: “The Nigeria Governors’ Forum condemns in its totality the barbaric and very tragic incident that led to the loss of 22 travellers around Gada Biyu in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
“The killing has all the colorations of several others like it where locals in particular parts of the country, have become inhospitable and unwelcoming to other Nigerians living in or passing through their domains.
“These dastardly actions of Nigeria’s once peaceful locals which have resulted in unwarranted and needless deaths diminish us all as a people and pulls our country down to the deepest recesses of the absence of civilization. They also cause all kinds of reprisal killings and injurious interactions that do nobody any good.
“The Forum views with extreme disgust the horrible and thoughtless loss of precious lives and declare unequivocally that it must stop forthwith.
“Members of the Forum also call on the country’s security organisations to fish out all those involved and bring them forward to face the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to those who are contemplating similar action.
“Members insist that no human life deserves to be wasted on any ground, be it religious or ethnic, or even on the frivolous altar of mistaken identity and hope that Nigerians will desist from taking the law into their hands so that the country can once again become a safe place for us all.
“Finally, the Forum calls on all aggrieved ethnic nationalities and their militia to avoid needless killings of this nature by always seeking law enforcement assistance and legal redress.”
CAN worries over rising violence
Meanwhile, the State Chapter, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has expressed concern over the rising incidence of violence in the state.
A statement signed by the chairman, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, read: “CAN wishes to express deep pain over the recent attacks in Riyom, Jos North, Barkin Ladi and Irigwe Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Areas leading to loss of lives and property.
“The leadership of the church on the Plateau totally condemns these attacks and pleads with the security agents to be professional in handling their responsibility to guarantee the security of lives and property.
“The Church equally condemns the attack on a convoy of commuters along Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government Area which also led to loss of lives. Every human life is precious and the unlawful killing of any human being, regardless of their identity and affiliation, is unacceptable.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria, Plateau State Chapter mourns with the families of those who lost their lives and loved ones as well as those who have been displaced or suffered harm of any kind.
“We pray that these needless killings quickly come to a swift end. As a Church on the Plateau, we are committed to working towards justice and peaceful co-coexistence.
“We call on all arms and tiers of government to ensure that the criminals responsible for these dastardly acts of violence are brought to justice.
Miyetti Allah condemns killings
In its reaction, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, condemned the ambush and killing of commuters at Rukuba Road in Jos.
MACBAN, in a statement by its National Secretary, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, yesterday, in Jos, said the whereabouts of some of the commuters, are yet to be ascertained.
“The ambush which occurred around 10.00am , also left several commuters wounded, while 40 others remain unaccounted for. The travellers were in a convoy of four buses, when they were attacked.
“MACBAN condemns this senseless violence on travellers. We urge security agencies to fish out perpetrators of this dastardly act and bring them to justice,” he said.
IGP deploys special team to Plateau
Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered immediate deployment of Police Intervention Team to Plateau State to carry out on-the-spot assessment and ensure enhanced, coordinated response to protect the community and boost public confidence in the affected area(s) of the state.
The deployment followed the unfortunate attack on innocent citizens in Rukuba Community in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State on Saturday, August 14, 2021, which led to the killing of 22 travellers.
The Police Intervention Team is led by DIG Sanusi Lemu, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Finance and Administration, who is also the Co-ordinating DIG, North-Central geo-political zone.
The team comprises personnel of Police Tactical Units — the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Special Forces, among others.
They were deployed to protect communities, prevent further attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Also deployed are investigators and covert operatives from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) and the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB).
A statement by CP Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer, said: “The operatives are expected to provide additional investigative, intelligence and forensic support to Plateau State Police Command in the ongoing investigations and rescue operations.
“The IGP, while condemning the incident, called for calm and assured victims and relatives of the attack that the Police are working with the military, other security forces and the state government to ensure all perpetrators of the unfortunate incident are brought to book.
“Meanwhile, the IGP noted that 20 suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, while 33 victims have been rescued.
“The IGP enjoined citizens in the affected area(s) to support the security forces deployed to the hotspot by providing useful information that will lead to the arrest of other perpetrators of the crime and forestall any further attack.”
Fish out, prosecute killers, Akoko youths task FG
Similarly, youths in Akoko, Ondo State, under the aegis of Akoko Youth Forum, AYF, yesterday asked the Federal Government to produce and prosecute the killers of the 22 Ondo travellers at Rukuba, Jos, Plateau State.
President of AYF, Ife Ajibuwa, described the attack as an unprovoked, senseless and deadly massacre of Akoko people.
He said: “It is with a saddened heart that we condole with the families of the victims of the unfortunate incident. May God grant you all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”.
He accused the Federal Government of treating marauding killers with “kids’ gloves”, and warned that unless the killers were tamed, it would “now be fire for fire,” adding that “enough is enough.”
“We hereby issue a stern warning to the Federal Government to curtail the nefarious activities of the perpetrators/bandits/terrorists and disarm them, rather than giving them protective coverage while they continue to destroy lives,’’ Ajibuwa said.
He challenged the federal and state governments “to find those responsible for the attack, mistaken identity or not.’’
He stated further: “Deliberate killing of another person is illegal and should not be treated with levity. Genocide is among the gravest crimes against humanity.
“Plateau is home to millions of Nigerians from all walks of life and I call on all warring groups to lay down their arms, embrace dialogue and the mechanisms put in place by the state government towards peaceful resolution of all issues of conflict in the troubled parts of the state.”
In his reactions to the killings, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Muhammad Puma, yesterday, expressed shock and sadness over the attack, saying it must be investigated, with the perpetrators brought to book.
The deputy speaker while sympathising with the family of the victims, the government and people of Plateau State, called on citizens to be calm, urging them to refrain from reprisals which could endanger the peace on the Plateau.
Wase further called on the people of Plateau State to have faith in Governor Simon Lalong’s administration in its quest to find lasting solutions to the perennial crisis in the state.
He also commended security agencies for their prompt response to the crisis, urging them to do everything possible to ensure those involved in the dastardly act were arrested.
Atiku urges FG to tackle security issues
Also reacting yesterday, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, called on governments at all levels to find solutions to perennial security challenges in the land.
Atiku said in a statement: “The report of an attack on innocent travellers on a major highway in Plateau State stands condemned, just as those too numerous to mention across the country in recent times.
“Atiku Abubakar commiserates with the families of the deceased; one, for losing a dear one and, secondly, in the gruesome and callous manner they met their untimely deaths.
“It is acknowledged that the security outfits are doing their very best in the current circumstance to make all of us safe. However, skirmishes like this and the pain accompanying it make us feel as though enough is not being done.”