By Lawrence Olaoye
Plateau state governor, Simon Lalung, has said that community leaders who habour criminals would henceforth be held responsible for breach of peace and criminalities in their domains.
The governor, who briefed State House Correspondents after joining a delegation leaders of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, yesterday also lamented that the peace efforts in his state suffered a setback with the recent killing of General Idris Alkali.
According to him, he insisted on the conclusion of the investigation and arrest of the suspected killers of the late General.
The governor also informed that his government was doing a lot in the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) and their timely resettlement following the skirmishes which recently rocked the state leading to the death of several people.
Asked about his efforts to restore peace in the Plateau, Lalong said “Well, we have done a lot including the rehabilitation of the IDPs. We set up a committee and they are submitting their report today. I had assured everybody after that crisis that we are going to rehabilitate the place. We have applied to Mr. President and he has approved for us additional force, Special Mobile Squad and I got the approval of Mr. President last week.
So we are waiting to get the report and then we will start moving people to their ancestral home. The people of Plateau are making their complaints, everybody has a right to make complaints but as far as the government is concern in Plateau, we have done a lot, we have gone far with some of the issues that were raised. The only one that put us back was the killing of the General.
And I have also charged community leaders, just like Mr. President said, I said if you want to ensure peace in your place, community leaders must also come out and expose criminals in their domain. But when they commit crime and community leaders or religious leaders fight to protect them that’s why we have problems. If they had exposed the killers of Alkali earlier everything would have been solved. But there you have community and religious leaders who claimed to be religious, who claimed to be religious leaders hiding criminals.
They might not like me but that is what I am doing. I have said that yes you want government to work but if I catch you or get any criminal activities in your domain, we will hold the community leader, religious responsible. We cannot claim to live in a community and we don’t know the criminals and who are good people.
So we are doing our best. Even when they were doing investigation people were shouting but I insisted that this investigation must be done to the letter. They must investigate and find out those who killed the General and other people that were slaughtered on that road. So by this they are beginning to expose the reason for some of the crisis. And I always appeal that in a society like Plateau, we must learn to live together. It is not by chance that people were born outside Plateau, God brought us together and so if we want peace we must embrace each other and we must also give opportunity for people to come and live in our state.”
On his mission to the Villa, he said “The delegation of COCIN leadership is at the invitation of Mr. President. I was here yesterday to pay condolence visit to the chief of Army staff, the family of Gen.
Alkali, also to the Minister of Defence and also to Mr. President and that was when I was informed that the leaders of Church of Christ in Nigeria were also going to pay the visit to Mr. President.
I joined the delegation because they are all Christian leaders from my state.
“It was in the interest of the state because all of us are searching for peace. I have been searching for peace in Plateau state so any move for peace in Plateau and Nigeria, I will put myself at the front burner, that is why you saw me today.”