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RELIGION

Matters Arising From The Plateau

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The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), under the leadership of its President-General, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, is compelled to express its shock and stupefaction on the tragic bloodbath and savagery emanating for the umpteenth time from Plateau State. Formerly a haven of peace and a pride to the nation, Plateau State, especially the three Local Government Areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South, has relapsed into a state of anomie, a condition of intermittent, internecine and seemingly intractable violence.

At the centre of this horrible and extreme criminality are the Berom Christians, a bunch of evil and deadly ethnic supremacists whose brazen show of cannibalism astounded the world when they slaughtered, burnt and ate the flesh of several Muslims about a decade ago when the worshippers were waylaid at a major Islamic festival. It is the same terrorists that have turned Jos to a theatre of carnage again with the unbelievable discoveries being made in Lafendeg Du pond, where the car and belongings of a General of the Nigerian Army, Idris Alkali, were criminally deposited, among other traces of unimaginable horror.

NSCIA condemns in the strongest terms the unspeakable disappearance of Major General Idris Alkali (rtd). We remonstrate the gruesome murder of several other Muslims, including Zayyanu Shallah, Manager, Department of Universal Service and Provision Fund, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), and Jubril Mailafia, an award-winning Film Editor and Animator, in the same community.

As responsible and civilised people, we must all collectively and unanimously condemn the killing of innocent souls regardless of whoever is perpetrating it and or whoever may be the victims. All human souls are sacred and they must be equally protected and valued. The usual silence of some self-styled religious leaders when their people are the perpetrators of crime and their cantankerous posturing and raucous cacophony when their followers are perceived as victims of mayhem smack of hypocrisy and wickedness in the sight of God and indeed in the sight of all just, fair and humane people.

Given their antecedents, it is just true to type that General Alkali’s car, the clothes he was wearing and other personal effects were all found in the evil pond. Other similar and alarming discoveries are still being made, like carcasses of human bodies and cars, and other things that prove beyond reasonable doubt that the area in question has been converted to a triangle of undiluted evil, where innocent people plying the Jos-Abuja road are profiled religiously and Muslims are frequently hacked to death with their bodies dumped in some shallow graves while their vehicles are buried in the bellies of ponds.

So far, many vehicles including an 18-seater bus of Gombe Line, 6 motorbikes, and several dead bodies have been discovered in that particular pond alone. We understand that about 80 other ponds dot the community and it will actually take some time to unravel the depth and dimensions of the atrocities committed against innocent Muslim commuters over the past one decade. It is this blood-chilling reality that makes travellers to Abuja from Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa State to pass through Kano, enduring the hardship of travelling for a whole day on a journey that could have been undertaken within an average of 5 or 6 hours. For a madness that has lasted this long, it is curious and disappointing that no definitive measure has been taken to deal decisively with the situation as the security agents cannot claim ignorance about it.

In the face of this unsavoury and sense-numbing development, we are dismayed and appalled that the media have chosen to remain hypocritically silent and ignominiously disinterested, understandably because, and as it has often been the case, Muslims are the victims and the perpetrators of the evil and crime are Christians. If it were to be the so-called herdsmen attack, though it is the same anarchists that often disguise as herdsmen to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it, the media would have been awash with sensational headlines, mischievous reports and obnoxious hyper-analyses. In fact, if General Alkali were a Christian, a dominant section of the media would have earned for themselves accolades for bigotry and the corrupt-souled purveyors of hate speech, masquerading men of God, would have been spitting fire and brimstone, beating the drums of war, fanning the embers of hubris and mischievously mouthing their ill-digested ‘Jihad’.

Now, we strongly demand that the Federal Government hold the people living in the communities around the Lafendeg Du pond responsible for the disappearance of General Alkali and the ordinary civilians whose lives had been gruesomely terminated. The guilty conscience of these terrorists and cannibals had made them to use their women to attempt stopping the search of the pond. The leader of those barely-clad women and her co-travellers should be arrested immediately and investigated to determine their actual motif and culpability in the disappearance of the General and the death of others.

The efforts of the Governor of Plateau State, Rt. Honourable Simon Bako Lalong, at entrenching peace and stability in Plateau State is commendable. At least, his own administration, in the last three and a half years, until the past few months, is different from what obtained in the immediate past administration in the State when the State Government was not only brazenly taking side but was also culpable in certain situations. The former Governor should be able to assist the authorities in their investigations as a federal legislator had revealed on the floor of the National Assembly, even while citing security concerns for his own life, how mercenaries and terrorists had been trained abroad by politicians to kill, plunder and massacre.

The Council appreciates the Federal Government, in spite of the daunting challenges it faces from the corrupt and conflict entrepreneurs, on the appreciable progress and achievements it has recorded in addressing the various challenges of insecurity in the Country. We acknowledge the doggedness and resolve of the military in unearthing the facts surrounding the disappearance of one of their own.

More importantly, we reiterate that Government must not allow the perpetrators of this heinous crime in the Plateau axis of evil to go scot-free in the guise of playing politics. This is a moment of testing the commitment of Government and political will to put an end to impunity in Nigeria. We demand that Government ensure that justice is done and that the law takes its full course. This is the only sure way of engendering good governance, responsible leadership and enduring peace and stability in the country.

Nations/governments do survive on justice even if they are led by infidels, but they do not survive on injustice, even if they are led by believers in God. We cannot afford to continue as a nation of actions without consequences. We, therefore, insist that in the spirit of the change mantra, the killing fields and ponds of Jos will be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book to serve as deterrent to other terrorists.

Nothing less is acceptable to the right-thinking and peace-loving Nigerians.

Professor Salisu Shehu, Deputy Secretary-General NSCIA



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