Friday Olokor, Success Nwogu, Olaleye Aluko and Clement Nnachi
About three weeks after the killing of over 200 persons in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, Governor Simon Lalong on Tuesday said “the relevant bills to try the perpetrators will soon be signed into law.”
But a former Head of State and National Chairman of Nigeria Prays, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), said that “the people arrested should be investigated and prosecuted in Jos where the crime was committed” and not in Abuja the military suggested.
While promising to ensure the enthronement of sustainable peace on the Plateau, Lalong said that government had reviewed adequate laws to prosecute the offenders in Jos.
The Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yakubu Dati, according to a WhatsApp message sent to journalists, quoted Lalong as saying this while receiving Gowon at the Government House, Jos.
Gowon was also received by the Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Prof Sonni Tyodden, members of the State Executive Council, including the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Rufus Bature and Lalong’s Chief of Staff, Chief John Dafaan.
Just last week, the Commander of the Special Military Task force code named Operation Safe Haven, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, had told The PUNCH that the persons arrested in connection with the killings would be prosecuted in Abuja because the administration of justice in Plateau State was very weak.
The OPSH Chief had said, “We are moving them straight to Abuja because we don’t even have the capacity to keep them. If we keep them here in Jos, we usually encounter the problem of people saying they want to see their relatives and take their bail.
“…The prosecution in Plateau State is too weak; the prosecution by the Federal Government is stronger and has a higher standard. You can’t just bail somebody who committed all these crimes. But here in Plateau State, the people will start asking for bail.”
But Gowon, who was in Jos to condole with the people over the recent killings, “decried the past practice where suspects arrested were taken to Abuja and eventually released.”
“People arrested should be investigated and prosecuted in Jos where the crime was committed,” the elder statesman emphasised.
He condemned social media reports blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for the killings as unfortunate, adding that, “the Buhari I know will not be involved, certainly no leader will encourage his people to be killed.”
However, Lalong told Gowon that adequate legislation had been reviewed to prosecute the masterminds of the killings in Jos.
He said, “The relevant bills to try perpetrators of the recent attacks on the Plateau will soon be signed into law. We have reviewed adequate laws to prosecute the offenders in Jos.We will ensure the enthronement of sustainable peace on the Plateau.”
CAN urges US, UN, others to save Nigeria
Meanwhile, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, has said the Federal Government under President Buhari should wake up and address the recurring killing of Nigerians by suspected herdsmen.
He raised the alarm that the killer herdsmen were combining with the Boko Haram insurgents to unleash havoc on innocent people.
According to him, the killings had assumed an international dimension, noting that it had spread to northern part of Cameroon.
He spoke during a media briefing in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Tuesday on the sidelines of a special prayer rally and summit on the state of the nation by Church Leaders and Ministers Fellowship of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter.
He said it was necessary to rejig the nation’s security system and the service chiefs, adding that some of them had proved inefficient.
Ayokunle said, “Killings still continue and our effort is not enough yet… The major thing is that government must wake up. They have all it takes to stop all these things. We have committed the resources and the management of the resources of the nation to their hands, to be able to procure ammunition to deal with them. They have the intelligence service that should know how these people get the ammunition supply. Why is government unwilling to unearth all these things? Nigerians cannot be slaughtered like chickens. Every Nigerian is very important and valuable before God. It is a shame what is happening. When we are talking like this, it is not as if we hate the government but government must be responsible. Government will command our respect when government has done its duties.”
He added, “The US and the UN have heard of it. I have not only reported, I have also told them to come out and talk to our government to wake up and do their work. I have gone to Aso Rock and I have presented a paper to Mr. President that we cannot sleep with our eyes closed when the security apparatus appear to be in the hands of only one religious group and when the security apparatus appear to be in only one region of the country. It has never been like that in the history of this nation and it has to be reviewed. It must be reviewed also because they have proved to be ineffective.”
The CAN President said there must be free and fair election during the governorship election of Ekiti State.
22,000 Plateau residents displaced by killings – Red Cross
Also, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said more than 22,000 people are displaced in Plateau State by the violence and killings in the Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South Local Government Areas.
The ICRC said on Tuesday that the Plateau internally displaced persons were in need of relief materials such as food, shelter and clothing, which the international organisation was working with the Nigerian Red Cross Society to provide.
In a release by the ICRC’s spokesperson, Aleksandra Mosimann, the Red Cross said it would give “blankets, mosquito nets, mats, tarpaulin, kitchen sets and clothing” to the displaced persons in an effort to improve their living conditions.
Mosimann said, “The ICRC in close cooperation with the Nigerian Red Cross is responding to the most urgent needs of more than 22,000 people displaced by the recent armed violence in Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South LGAs.
“Tens of thousands of people fled their homes after the most recent spat in armed violence in June 2018. Hundreds have been killed and injured, while some areas were left in ruins. Most of the displaced women, children and elderly are staying in congested impromptu camps where they arrived with whatever they could carry — and often with nothing. Some are being hosted by local families, who are also struggling to make do with scarce resources.
FG has failed, says Atiku
However, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the Federal Government had failed. He made the declaration in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, on Tuesday while addressing members of Peoples Democratic Party State Working Committee, party delegates, members of the National/State Assembly, members of the State Executive Council during a one-day solidarity visit to the state .
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