Governors of the 19 northern states have said that they would not adopt wholesale, the regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, launched by the South West States recently in efforts to curb insecurity.
Chairman of the Northern Nigerian Governors Forum, NNGF, Simon Lalong, disclosed the position of the northern states governors to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Lalong, who is also the governor of Plateau State, said he was at the Aso Villa to brief President Buhari on the latest attack by unknown gunmen which claimed 13 lives in the state.
He said the recent attack was caused by cattle rustlers, leading to reprisals, with innocent citizens falling victims.
The governors said a committee was working on a new security architecture in the northern states which would be based on community policing as a way to provide sustainable solution to the insecurity in the region.
Governor Lalong stated that all the northern states were in deep discussions and were making efforts to operationalise state policing, and not regional security outfit as floated in the South-west.
According to him, the peculiarities of the south are different from those of the northern region, adding that several committees had been put in place by the NNGF and are all working tirelessly to address the spare of insecurity in the North.
Asked if his colleagues in the North Central would consider putting up a security outfit like the Amotekun launched recently in the South West, he replied: “When you talk about North Central, I am chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, we took a decision sometime last year. You will recall that at one time we met the President and we told him what we were doing. We set up committees and the committees have worked very hard. You will recall that we started our meeting from the Northwest in Katsina; we are going back to have another meeting in North Central.
“The situation in the South might not be the same with the north but in the North we are also looking at some ways that will also address these issues. So we have gone ahead to set up committees; those committees have done their work and we are going to meet to address these issues once and for all.
“Two, we have also agreed to key into community policing and at the level of the committee, we have already gone far. Each state is already neck deep in community policing.
“But I have not ready the document, I cannot claim to have read the details of that (Amotekun) document, to understand what they mean by Amotekun. I saw various vehicles that were bought but you know if it’s about vehicles, many vehicles have been bought in the north. I bought almost 100 vehicles and gave to the police but that is not what will address the insecurity in my state.
“So, it may vary from the South to the North but in the North we are trying to look for comprehensive ways that will help augment what the federal government is doing in respect to insecurity.”
Speaking about his own state, the governor said the people had enjoyed relative peace for a while until the recent incident. He said: “In Plateau State particularly, all of these things had stopped. We were not witnessing cattle rustling again, I knew what I did. We were not witnessing kidnapping again even without a law in my state. But this attempt just happened and it has reawakened me to something else. That is why I am going back to look at another window in respect to cattle rustling.”
Speaking on the attack, the governor said a total of 19 lives were lost, describing the incident as a surprise and something that caught the state unawares.
He said: “So, as a matter of fact, we woke up yesterday (Thursday) early in the morning to get information that people were killing themselves in a village. So I didn’t waste time, I took off to that village. My timely intervention and presence helped a lot, because, after the first set of killings, the second set was reprisal killings.
So when I got there everything had to stop.
“I spoke to the people, we buried the people and they understood with me and the place has remained calm; peace has been restored to that place.”
On efforts to find a lasting solution to killings in the state, he said an inquiry was ongoing and the outcome would determine the next line of action.
“Well, if you know Plateau, we have settled this crisis in the state and we are enjoying our peace. But at times when you get to this level, people forget that there was peace in the state. Christmas was well celebrated in the state, New Year was well celebrated in the state until this incident.
“Our little investigation confirms that it was a group of cattle rustlers in a huge number that rustled over 100 cows. They were moving with them. We have also made appeal through the youths that whenever there is this kind of challenge, they should move in and seek to arrest some of the criminals.
“Unfortunately, the youths came out, they did their best. In fact I will call them patriots. They went in and stopped the rustlers from moving with the cows and were able to rescue about 100 cows at the end of the day. So after the rescue they were only able to arrest about three or four those people and took them to the police station and returned to their various villages.
“That early morning, some of those rustlers who escaped came back and started attacking and killing people in the villages. So it was quite unfortunate.
“I must say the security people got there and they did a good job. If they were not there, the level or casualty would have been much. Those people were heavily armed but the youths had no arms but they did their best. Three of them sacrificed their lives and before I got there the people were also engaging in reprisal attacks. You know the moment it gets to reprisal attacks it means you are also attacking innocent people; about three people again were killed. So a total of 13 people were killed. We were able to address the people and the people understood and are very calm. Life has gone back to normal but investigations are still ongoing. We have put security (agents) around to follow and get the culprits,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State has said that the peace deal the state government signed with bandits in the state had not collapsed, but on course to achieve its desired results.
The governor, who dismissed the claim by some persons that the peace accord had been breached and had resulted in the reappearance of attacks and criminality in the state, described it as false, alarming and unfortunate.
Masari, who stated this yesterday while speaking with journalists at State Government House, stressing that those with the imaginative thought that the process has collapsed should have a rethink as his administration was determined and on course to bringing lasting peace to the people of the state.
The problem of insecurity in the state, he said, was a case of transition of crimes.
According to him, it started in 2016 as cattle rustling and sometime in 2018-2019, “we saw insurgents’ invasion, banditry, kidnapping and rape.”
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