The commander of the Special Task Force on Jos crises code-named operation Safe Haven, Brigadier General Hassan Umaru, has said that certain challenges facing his assignment in Plateau state accounted for the prolonged search for peace in the state.
Gen Umaru disclosed this in his office at the weekend while receiving a team of Face of Peace Pageant who paid him a courtesy call at the STF headquarters, Jos.
Gen Umaru said “We encountered numerous challenges in our efforts to stop the killings and restore peace on the plateau, ranging from stiff opposition to our operation by sections of the state, silent killings, youth unemployment, negative media propaganda, fake soldiers syndrome etc.”
According to him, “Out of all the numerous challenges, the one that worries me most is the lack of confidence in the Special Task Force. This is the centre of all the opposition against our duty here from the initial stages.
“Part of the cause of lack of confidence on the STF was the wrong impression that members of my troop were divided along ethnic and religious lines. I find this difficult to believe because in all my life in the military, I only began to hear of Muslim soldiers or Christian soldiers here on the plateau.
“This notion is unusual in the history and set up of the Nigerian Army. All the members of my troop were posted from all over the country across religious divides, serving as the Nigerian Army and not as a religious one. We don’t have such orientation.
It was difficult for me to convince citizens of the state that they were misunderstanding us but today I’m happy that they are beginning to appreciate our job.”
Gen Umaru also said, “the STF comprises of the police, Army, Air Force and Navy. We meet as leaders of these various organizations with the state government to review our operations, our challenges and our way forward on regular basis. We have inter-agency co-operation with other relevant agencies and I’m happy we are beginning to achieve the objectives of the STF which is peace.”
The commander however insisted that the prevailing peace in the state is not enough for the STF to relax. “We will ensure this is sustained and becomes a peace that will last. People might be celebrating the current peace but in STF we have not given up because to us it is not over until it is finally over.” He commended the leadership of the Face of Peace Pageant, and said that they had adopted a task of peace building which was the greatest challenge facing the nation today. “There is no alternative to peace and all hands must be on deck to ensure there is peace anywhere in the country”
Chief Executive of the Face of Peace Pageant, Salis Muhammed Abdlsalam said the visit was to seek a working partnership with the STF in an effort to sustain the already achieved peace in the state.