The Police Special Intervention Force deployed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, yesterday launched a manhunt in bushes and rocks within communities in Plateau State for perpetrators of the latest attacks in which scores of people were killed in Barkin-Ladi (Gashishi), Riyom and Jos South local government areas of the state.
The suspected killer herdsmen had between Saturday night and yesterday invaded nine Berom villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi local government areas of the state at night and slaughtered scores of women, children, including the aged, burnt houses after the killing of the occupants.
The IGP had yesterday announced the deployment of the Special Intervention Force to Plateau State to restore lasting peace in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, Jos South local government areas and other flash points in the state.
Force PRO, Jimoh Moshood, said the deployment is coming after the recent killings of innocent people in the affected communities and other flash points in the state, with the attendant disturbance of public peace, clashes and mayhem that engulfed the entire Plateau State at the weekend, which resulted in the loss of several innocent lives, burning of houses and vehicles, and destruction of properties.
The Police spokesman confirmed that the team that have started arriving are already working in synergy with the Plateau State Police Command to ensure that peace and normalcy restored are sustained in the affected areas and other flash points in Plateau State.
He noted that the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations has relocated to Jos, the Plateau State capital, on the directive of the IGP to coordinate and supervise the operations on ground.
Giving details of the deployment, Moshood said, “Also, two Police Aerial surveillance Helicopters, five Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), three Police Mobile Force Units (PMF), two 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 of 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”.
He also listed members of the Police Special Intervention Force, to include 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.
Moshood further explained that to achieve success in this operation, the team will be proactive and strict in the enforcement of its mandates, even as Police standard operations procedures and rule of engagement will be fully adhered to.
He continued: “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 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.
“The deployment of the personnel of the Police Special Intervention Force will equally cover communities, towns, villages, vulnerable settlements, Government and private infrastructures and facilities in all the affected areas and other flash points in the State”.
The Police further appealed to traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders, youth groups, public office holders, politicians, opinion leaders, parents and guardians to prevail on their subjects, adherents/followers, children and wards to support the operatives of the Police Special Intervention Force in the discharge of their responsibilities, as well as implore them to allow Police investigation and the law to take it full course, rather than resorting to reprisals and counter attacks.
“Members of the public in the affected areas, other flash points or in any other location in the State in distress or with information to the Police Special Intervention Force and the investigation team can use the following numbers: 07059473022, 08038907662, 08075391844, and 09053872296”, Moshood added.
Politicians Taking Advantage Of Herdsmen, Farmers Clashes – PMB
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari alleged yesterday that politicians are taking advantage of the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes to cause mayhem in the country.
He decried how increasingly cheap human life has become in Nigeria to the extent that desperate people are using it to pursue their quest for instability and chaos, which they hope would give them advantage in the coming elections.
The president was reacting to recent attacks in Plateau State that left scores of people dead.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari said, “We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate.
“Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.”
Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that those found culpable in the latest killings in Plateau State will be arrested and prosecuted.
He spoke in Jos, the Plateau State capital, where he had led federal government delegation to ascertain the security situation after the gruesome murder of over 100 natives
Osinbajo who arrived Jos at about 4:40pm met with leaders and stakeholders in the State.
The VP said he was directed by President Buhari to come to the state and see what the federal government could do to stop the killings.
“It is disturbing that Plateau is in the news again for killings.
President Muhammadu has ordered that those found culpable should be arrested and prosecuted. This is condemnable and the federal government would ensure that this is not allowed to happen again”, he declared.
Governor Simon Lalong, while speaking at the town hall meeting that took place at the new Government House expressed gratitude to the federal government for visiting the state.
He said he was surprised when the crisis started between the Berom and Fulani because they both signed a road map to peace in the state when he came on board.
Earlier yesterday, the governor said the state government would reinforce security in attack prone communities, following the killing of scores of people in some communities in the state.
Lalong who stated this in a state broadcast said, “Government has taken decisive steps to reinforce security, particularly in communities prone to attacks.
“In the same vein, government is working to tackle the underlying causes of conflict,’’ the governor said, adding that the resurgence of violence in the state is reprehensible as much as condemnable.
Lalong, who condoled with the families of those affected, prayed God to grant the deceased rest in his glorified kingdom.
The governor assured the people that government is conscious of its responsibilities of protection of lives and properties of its citizenry.
He said, “I took oath to protect and secure the lives and property of our citizens as governor of Plateau. For this reason, my administration has placed high premium on peace, security and good governance, being the first item on our five-pillar policy thrust.
“Regardless of the threat we face today, we remain resolute in our commitment to arrest the vicious circle of violence and lay the foundation of sustainable peace”.
ACF Condemn Killings
Meanwhile, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday condemned the attacks on Plateau villages, saying killing of innocent people for whatever reasons cannot in any way address the perceived concerns or grievances of the perpetrators of the crime.
In a statement by its Spokesman, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, ACF said it is deeply touched by the recent “unwarranted and wanton destruction of innocent lives and property by some armed bandits in some communities in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Plateau State”.
It added that the heinous acts by the bandits were callous and inhuman, considering the huge number of casualties in terms of lives lost and settlements affected
The group said, “Unfortunately, travelers plying the roads within the local government areas affected were also victims of the attacks. Killing of innocent people for whatever reasons cannot in any way address the perceived concerns or grievances of the perpetrators of these crimes.
“ACF once more appeals to all aggrieved persons to always channel their grievances through due process of law rather than taking the law into their hands. This is because both the attacks and reprisals are targeted at innocent people who know nothing about the feuds.
“ACF condemns the spate of killings of innocent people by armed bandits and gun men not only in Plateau State but also the ones in some other Northern states. The forum therefore calls on the Security Agencies to always be proactive in their operations in order to avert such incidence.
“Furthermore, the issue of intelligence gathering and sharing should be a continuous and sustain effort by both the community and the security agencies to ensure peaceful coexistence within the communities, considering the fact that the need for peaceful coexistence is sine qua non for any meaningful socioeconomic development to take place”.
ACF equally calls upon the Plateau State Government to reactive its “peace building and community consultations initiative” launched two years ago by Governor Simon Lalong, which was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the incessant hostilities between herdsmen and Birom communities in Plateau state.
I Didn’t Speak On Reprisal Attacks – MACBAN Scribe
Meanwhile, the chairman of North Central zone of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Danladi Ciroma, last night denied attributing the killings in Plateau State to reprisal attacks.
Ciroma told LEADERSHIP that he did not issue a statement concerning the killings in Jos, adding that he only spoke with a reporter who misquoted him.
He said, “I did not issued a statement. No, we talked on phone. Sincerely speaking, what that boy wrote was not what I told him. We did not speak on reprisal attacks.
“What is happening in Plateau from 2001 is not good. I am a peace loving person. I am sure that if Birom people read what they wrote about me they won’t believe it. They don’t know me with that kind of habit. Since the coming of this government, the governor setup several committees on peace and if anything happens anywhere he is, he will return home.
“The security men on ground have been doing their best. But Fulani and farmers must find a way of leaving peacefully because no one will separate them. Innocent lives are been killed”.
He however said there are youths who are involved in rustling cows, while others go to farms to destroy it.
“The biggest issue we have on ground is cattle rustling. In Fan district, over 300 cattle have been rustled. It has become a no go area and security agencies know about it. Among the Fulani and the Birom youths, there are enemies of peace. The herders and farmers have been fighting, which is not good. Our concern is peace.”
PDP Demands Apology From PMB
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described as extremely callous, inhuman and brazenly divisive, the statement by the presidency on the recent killings in Plateau State.
The PDP said it is shocked that at the time Nigerians expected the presidency to take immediate steps to restore order, safeguard the lives of the people, exert justice and bring succour to victims, the Buhari Presidency toed the path of divisiveness, which is capable of worsening the tensed situation in the state.
A statement by the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted: “It is unfortunate that rather than taking actions to get to the roots of killings and banditry in the land, President Muhammadu Buhari resorted to political colorations by engaging in his usual blame game of unnamed politicians.
“It is equally disgusting that the Buhari Presidency relegated the main issue of the murder of our citizens and how to track down the perpetrators and bring them to book, thus confirming the fears of most Nigerians that this administration does not care about the lives of the people.
“PDP insists that the basic responsibility of government, which is to ensure the safety and harmonious living of all Nigerians, ensure that our laws apply at all times and circumstances, without any fear or favour, has been completely abdicated by the Buhari administration, thereby leaving our people at the mercy of marauders.
“Moreover, it is shocking that the President, as the father of our nation had no soothing or reassuring words for the agonizing victims of the attack but aggravated their pains with the unguarded comments attributed to him by his media aide.
“The PDP therefore demands an unreserved apology from President Buhari for his comments and manifest insensitivity to the plight of the victims of the Plateau massacre”.
Air Force Deploys Combat Helicopter To Jos
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has said it has deployed an Mi-35P combat helicopter and an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to Plateau State in support of efforts aimed at restoring normalcy in the state.
According to a press statement signed by Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, the Air Force said the deployment of the ISR aircraft is expected to enhance intelligence gathering.
According to him, the combat helicopter would conduct armed reconnaissance and other combat air support operations in close coordination with surface forces deployed to the State.
The statement further said other NAF air assets are available at nearby alternate airfields to hasten the process of restoring normalcy in the State, as might be necessary.
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