June 21, 2024

Plateau: Army warns criminals preventing farming

Plateau: Army warns criminals preventing farming

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – The General Officer Commanding, GOC 3 Division/Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Major-General Abdulsalam Abubakar has warned criminal elements preventing farming and food production in Plateau State to desist from their acts as anyone caught would be decisively dealt with.

The Commander also cautioned against inciteful and hate speeches saying these raise tensions that negatively impact social cohesion and food production.

He spoke on Thursday during the Peace Summit organized by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Plateau State in collaboration with Operation Safe Haven for youths in five local government areas of Mangu, Bokkos, Jos South, Barkin Ladi, and Riyom.

The event with the theme: Promoting Inter-Ethnic and Inter-Religious Dialogue: Towards Ensuring Food Security in Plateau State was held at the Barkin Ladi local government area. Participants were from diverse religious and tribal groups.

The Commander, represented by Colonel US Abdulsalam, said, “We must facilitate conditions for unhindered food production, achieving food security in Plateau State requires collective efforts of all stakeholders.

“We are aware that the Plateau State is blessed with diverse cultures, languages, and religions. However, this diversity, which should be a source of strength, has become a source of conflict with negative implications for national security.

“It is also imperative to point out that the ethno-religious tensions generated by remarks from some religious and ethnic leaders are not only threatening food security but also undermining social cohesion needed for collective progress in our communities.

“Additionally, I would like to send a strong warning to criminals and those planning to obstruct farming activities during this rainy season, which could result in food scarcity in the coming year. Operation Safe Haven will not hesitate to deal decisively, in line with the law, with anyone planning to disrupt farming activities or cause harm…”

He commended the Correspondents’ Chapel for the initiative saying many displaced persons are yet to return to their ancestral lands, and this has prevented them from engaging in essential farming activities so, the Summit presents a platform for stakeholders to interact and close ranks to ensure food security in the State.

Also, the Guest Speaker, Rev. Fr. Stephen Akpe, who spoke on the theme urged the participants to spread the message of peace and peaceful coexistence to ensure food production and security.

His words, “If we do not ensure food security for ourselves while we are alive, we will soon become food available for others…

“Since 2010 over 3,000 people have been killed in Mangu. Over 3,500 in Barkin Ladi, at least 2,000 in Bokkos, nearly 1,500 in Riyom, and over 2,300 in Jos-South, totaling over 12,300. This estimate is from the Conservative estimate. Over 400 have been declared missing. The number of illegal arms circulating in these areas is estimated to be above board…”

He recommended that there must be a “Policy to protect food such as we protect animals in reserves and the Nigerian Naira. It should be criminalized if citizens are perceived to abuse food. This legal instrument is necessary to secure food security…”

Earlier, the Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel, Polycarp Auta stated that the event was “a part of our contribution towards the ongoing peace efforts by the State government and security agencies.”

He noted, “As the farming season sets in and Plateau State being a hub, we use this medium to remind ourselves of the looming food insecurity in the country and the desire to develop a collective approach that will allow farmers to cultivate enough food to feed the State and the country in general.”

Goodwill messages were received from the Special Adviser to Governor Caleb Mutfwang on Security, Brig-Gen Gakji Shipi (rtd), President of Berom Youth Moulders, BYM, Mr. Solomon Mwantiri, Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Barkin Ladi LGA, Alhaji Ibrahim Adamu among others.