The seeming intractable ethno-religious crises in Plateau State appears to defy various solutions, due, largely, to the obvious hypocrisy of our elite in the state, and across the country. Or, how else can one describe the recent duplicitous call by the Plateau State All Progressives Congress (APC) elders on the state governor to recall and deploy some faceless “intelligence” personnel whose identity, mission and undertakings are murky?
On the 3rd September, the elders’ council addressed a press conference in Jos and said among other things that: “The Plateau State All Progressives Congress Elders Council enjoin the Rescue Administration to revisit and dust its transition committee report, so as to identify citizens of Plateau State that were hitherto trained abroad by the last administration on security and intelligence gathering, to be reabsorbed into the Operation Rainbow to complement the recently trained three thousand (3,000) vigilantes.”
While it will be hasty to conclude that the elders were up to some mischief in calling for the identification and absorption of this “intelligence squad” into the state’s vigilante group, it is also imperative to state that the elders’ council was not circumspect in making its call. This is because, as “elders”, they cannot feign ignorance of the controversy surrounding the “training” of this “force” in a foreign land, which is widely known to be Israel, but which they curiously chose to simply describe as “abroad” at their press conference.
Early in July, 2018, the member representing Wase Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase stunned many citizens when he stated on the floor of the House that about 300 persons who had been trained in Israel by the Jonah Jang administration, which preceded the current one, returned and later vanished in circumstances that are suspect. Hon. Wase, who is currently the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, also alluded to the importation of some “equipment”, widely suspected to be armaments, by an unnamed high-profile politician from the state.
Wase, who was a floor member in 2018, said he was in possession of some classified documents which he obtained when he served as a member of the Transition Committee set up by Governor Simon Lalong to interface with his predecessor and facilitate a smooth hand over of power in 2015. The member volunteered to tender those classified documents to security agencies for further investigative work, once called upon to do that.
It is doubtful if any of the nation’s security agencies has to this day invited Hon. Wase to shed light into his allegations, and also tender those classified documents in his possession for further probe into the mission, as well as undertakings of this “intelligence squad”. For many keen observers, it will also be necessary to establish the whereabouts of the squad’s members since after they received their “trainings” in Israel.
There is groundswell of fear, especially among the Muslims in Plateau that members of this mysterious group could be behind some of the frequent upheavals around the state capital. The ugly incidences of the recent weeks in Jos and its environs, occurring after over six years of remarkable efforts by the current political leadership has restored reasonable level of peace in virtually all parts of the state, have heightened this suspicion.
And so, this makes it imperative for the security agencies, if they did not do it before, to call for whatever information Hon. Wase has, and clinically analyse same with a view to unraveling the Israel-trained ‘intelligence squad’. Doing this will undoubtedly help to solve some of the mysteries surrounding the relentless killings in and around Jos, by “unknown persons.”
Over the past two decades, the puerile indigene-settler dispute in Plateau has metamorphosed into a major source of protracted communal conflicts, which, over time, tore almost the entire state along Nigeria’s most dangerous fault line, which is religion. A 68-page report by Jana Krause, titled “A Deadly Circle: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria”, which was published as far back as 2011, noted that “Tensions between ethnic groups rooted in the allocation of resources, electoral competition, fears of religious domination, and contested land rights have amalgamated into an explosive mix”. And so today, Muslims and Christians in places like Jos do not co-habit in the same neighbourhoods.
Again, because of the mutual recriminations between adherents of the two religions, in Jos and some other parts of Plateau, minor disagreements easily lead to violent clashes that result in loss of lives. Credible reports have shown, for instance, that over 1,000 people were killed in less than a week of a crisis that was triggered by the ‘indigene-settler’ impasses in September, 2001, in Jos. Similarly, a crisis that erupted in the southern part of the state in early 2004 led to the massacre of over 700 residents of Yelwan Shendam, from the 2nd to the 4th of May of the same year.
Now, back to my point about the hypocrisy of our elites. There is sufficient evidence that most members of this class of people in Plateau know the remote causes of the frequent clashes in various parts of the state. However, for some incomprehensible reasons, such elements are reluctant to let out the truth. And yet, they make the loudest noise whenever lives are lost in the series of avoidable clashes across the state. For instance, the same report by Krause noted that “The lack of political will to resolve the crisis has been lamented from all sides.”
If the Jang and Joshua Dariye administrations exhibited clear lack of political will to deal decisively with the scalawags on the Plateau as suggested, the current governor has signaled his willingness to tread a distinctively positive path. However, Governor Lalong cannot achieve this desired objective without the active cooperation and support of the security agencies, whose primary responsibility it is to track down and prosecute all troublemakers. This, therefore, is the right time to unmask the Israel-trained “intelligence force” on the Plateau, in order to stop, once and for all, the seeming endless circle of violence which adversely impede growth and development of the state.
– Dunhu resides in Lokogoma District of Abuja