• As Osinbajo, Lalong, stakeholders meet to douse tension
By Tobias Lengnan Dapam, Abuja and Ado Abubakar Musa, Jos
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin has authorized the deployment of additional Special Forces to Plateau State to beef up the strength of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).
Equally, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris, has also deployed Special Intervention Force to Plateau state to restore lasting peace in Barkin Ladi, Riyom Jos South LGA’s to curb cases of crisis in the areas.
This is just as Vice President Osinbajo meets yesterday with stakeholders and leaders of Berom and Fulani communities to find lasting solution to the resurgence of violence in state.
The additional troops which arrived Jos, capital of Plateau State, on Monday were received and briefed by the Commander OPSH, Major General AM Atolagbe on their new assignment.
The army in a statement signed by John Agim, Brigadier General issued to journalists yesterday, assured all law abiding citizens of Plateau state of their safety.
The army issued a warning to “misguided youths who have offered themselves to be used as thugs” that “anyone apprehended will receive the full weight of the law.
According to the statement, “Herdsmen and farmers are also warned not to take laws into their hands; rather suspected persons should be reported promptly to security agencies.”
The police in its statement issued yesterday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said the deployment of Special Intervention Force to Plateau state is to put an end to the crisis.
He said the Deputy Inspector General of Police; Department of Operations is being relocated on the directive of the IGP to Jos to coordinate and supervise the operations on the ground.
The statement added that the Police Special Intervention Force will ensure the full enforcement of the curfew imposed on the affected areas by the Plateau State Government. “The personnel of the Police Special Intervention Force will carry out twenty four (24) hours surveillance and patrol, stop and search of vehicles, and suspected locations and hideouts of the assailants .
“The Team will also engage in continuous raids of identified criminal hideouts and black spots, with a view to arrest promptly those responsible for the killings and nip in the bud and prevent any further attack, attempt to attack or cause any form of violence that can lead to killings and other criminalities in the affected areas.
“Two (2) Police Aerial surveillance Helicopters, Five (5) Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), Three (3) Police Mobile Force Units (PMF), Two (2) Counter Terrorism Cells (CTU ) and Police Intelligence Unit and conventional Police personnel from other States have been deployed to the affected areas in Plateau State. The Police Aerial surveillance Helicopters and other components of the intervention Force are already in the State. Their arrival in the State has restored peace and prevented further attacks in the affected areas.
“The IGP has directed the Commissioner of Police in charge IGP monitoring Unit to lead the Police Special investigation Team to the affected areas and other flash points in Plateau State. The investigation Team comprises the Intelligence Response Team ( IRT), the Special Tactical Squad (STS) and the Technical Platforms. The team is to carry out a thorough and discreet investigation into the killings and promptly apprehend those responsible.
“The Police Special Intervention Force, also includes personnel of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), detachment of Police Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD), Police K9 (Sniffer Dogs Section), Conventional Policemen, Special Anti Robbery Squads. The team that have started arriving are already working in synergy with the Plateau State Police Command to ensure that the peace and normalcy restored are sustained in the affected areas and other flash points in Plateau State.
“To achieve success in this operation, the team will be proactive and strict in the enforcement of its mandates, Police standard operations procedures and rule of engagement will be fully adhered to.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sent Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to the state in the wake of the gruesome killings. Osinbajo, who arrived Jos on Monday, met with the state governor, Simon Lalong and other stakeholders behind closed doors.
Vice President Osinbajo has warned that nobody in Nigeria can survive religious war if allowed to continue, assuring that government would do everything possible to ensure the herders/ farmers clashes did not degenerate to religious crises.
Osinbajo also noted that the resurgence of violence in Plateau State was uncalled for, saying that Plateaun State had in the last three years been used as a model of how other communities could live together in peace and harmony.
Osinbajo said at the Little Rayfiled Government House that everything possible must be done to ensure that the crisis does not degenerate into religious violence, adding that “nobody can survive a religious war.”
He also expressed sadness over what he described as unfortunate that the social media was “besieged with all sorts of true and untrue stories that could escalate the situation.”
“Let me, however, strongly caution against the deliberate attempt to politicize the crisis and giving it religious colouration, fake news, deliberate distortions and misinformation,” he said.
“Government through the appropriate security agencies will not hesitate to deal decisively with any trouble maker or peace spoiler that is determined to test the resolve of government.”
He said the pockets of violent attacks on some communities has, unfortunately, led to loss of lives and properties.
“The resurgence of violence in the state is reprehensible, as much as condemnable. Yet, this is a stark reminder of the magnitude of peace and security challenges steering at us in the face.
Lalong said, Government is conscious of its responsibilities of protection of lives and properties of its citizenry, stressing that and they have always strived to meet that expectation.
He said: “My administration has placed a high premium on peace, security and good governance, being the first item on our five-pillar policy thrusts,” and, “Regardless of the threats we face today, we remain resolute in our commitment to arrest the vicious circle of violence and lay the foundation for sustainable peace.”
Lalong expressed regrets that with the renewed episode of violence, after about three years of some stability in terms of peace and security, the State is yet again faced with a risk of a relapse.
“Accordingly, the government has taken decisive steps to reinforce security, particularly in communities prone to attacks, and in the same vein is working to tackle the underlying causes of conflict,” he assured.
“On behalf of the government of the State, therefore, I commiserate with the families of those affected and pray that God in His infinite mercies will grant them rest in His glorified Kingdom.
“I urge all and sundry to exercise restraint, observe the curfew currently in place, while Traditional Rulers, Religious Leaders, Elders, Political Leaders, community leaders and their subjects remain vigilant and cooperate with security agencies that are monitoring the situations and helping to keep the peace.