. …….Defend yourselves, M’Belt Forum tells Plateau residents
……..Saraki, Dogara demand overhauling of security agencies
Violent protest rocked Jos, the capital of Plateau State, on Wednesday, as residents protesting the killings in three local government areas of the state by herdsmen invaded the state secretariat destroying vehicles and buildings.
The protest, which started peacefully, turned violent when youths and women damaged some cars parked at the New Government House in Jos and other offices.
During the fracas, vehicles belonging to Peter Amine of the News Agency of Nigeria and Douglas Francis of Core TV, were damaged.
The protesters, who had converged on the Old Airport Junction and marched to the Government House, were initially repelled from getting access to the premises. Some of them climbed the fence to gain access to the Government House, forcing security agents at the gate to eventually open it.
One of the protesters, Mafeng Gyendeng, expressed displeasure over the failure of the Plateau State Government to receive them.
The Plateau State Director of Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang, who was detailed to address the protesters narrowly escaped being lynched as he hurriedly scampered for safety.
But some of the protesters chased him and the fleeing government officials, trying to stop them from leaving the premises.
As they failed in their mission of stopping the fleeing officials, the protesters started to throw stones which hit cars and offices including the structure housing the offices of the Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Permanent Secretary (Government House) and other top government officials.
The protesters defied pleas from security operatives who were forced to shoot into the air to disperse them. But they stood their ground demanding to see the governor so they could register their displeasure over the killings as well as his position on the ranching policy.
Lalong was said to have gone to the hospital to visit about 50 victims of the attacks who were receiving treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital while the protest was going on.
Meanwhile, Lalong has condemned the attack on the Government House by protesters, saying they would be fished out and punished accordingly within the confines of the law.
According to him, the protest represented one of the saddest commentaries in the collective resolve of Plateau people to stand and be united against evil, adding that it constituted “a serious affront to the authority of the state.”
“Government has identified the sponsors of this protest which resulted in the destruction of properties and will certainly bring them to account for their unpatriotic conduct.
“While government mourns the loss of innocent lives and has extended deep commiseration to victims of the unfortunate attacks, with assurances that it will not rest on its laurels in fishing out the perpetrators, it will not fold its hands and watch disgruntled citizens throw the state into a state of anarchy and chaos under the guise of mourning “, Lalong threatened in a statement issued on Wednesday night by the Government House Director of Press and Public Affairs, Emmanuel Nanle.
He regretted that while government was making efforts at sustaining the tempo of arrest and prosecution of those who had over the years threatened peace, and worked so hard to turn our state into the sad era of bloodletting, “unpatriotic elements have chosen to frustrate the intention.”
The statement partly read, “…The governor finds it regrettable that while government has chosen to recognise the right of its citizens to peacefully assemble and protest within the confines of the law, the conveners of the protest under the joint auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria (Northern Zone of Plateau State), Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (Plateau State) and Bazata Gospel Team allowed the protest to be hijacked by hoodlums who took advantage of the procession led by these organisations, to destroy government properties and vehicles of civil servants and visitors to the Government House running into millions of naira.
“The governor views this attack on the seat of government as a serious affront to the authority of the state which should not be taken lightly because of the very clear and obvious unpatriotic self serving interest of a few who have chosen to make a mockery of the grief of the victims of the attack in Gashish District and other areas of the Northern Senatorial District.
“Governor Lalong opines that the name of the Church as a moral rectitude should not have been associated in any way with any person or group of persons who would contemplate violence as a show of discontent especially in this period that all godly and peace-loving citizens are sharing in the grief of the bereaved, and calling on God in prayers and sober reflection for healing in the land.”
Defend yourselves, forum tells Middle Belt residents
Meanwhile, the Middle Belt Forum has called on Plateau State residents and other Nigerians in the Middle Belt to defend themselves against armed herdsmen with anything at their disposal.
Insisting that the government had failed to protect middle belters, the forum asked the citizens to organise vigilance groups and use anything within their reach to fight the killers.
The President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, who made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, however, refrained from asking the people to take up arms.
“We call on the entire people of the Middle Belt to organise themselves in their communities to defend themselves and their property as the government has abdicated its responsibility to protect them. How you defend yourself is your prerogative; if I have a cutlass, I will use it, if I have a stick, I will use it. When people are not protected, they will resort to self-help. We are calling on our people to mobilise themselves,” he stated.
Justifying his call for self-defence, Bitrus from Chibok, Borno State, wondered why the security agencies had not arrested for investigation the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria or the Miyetti Allah Kautal Haure “which have claimed responsibility for the killings.”
He said, “The refusal of the Inspector-General of Police to stay in Makurdi as directed by the President in January 2018, and the recent comment by the Minister of Defence directing states to suspend the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition Laws are clear evidence that they are neither interested, willing nor able to be fair to the people of the Middle Belt.”
The MBF President called on President Buhari to immediately order the arrest of the MACBAN and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore leaders for investigation and prosecution.
Bitrus demanded the reconstitution of the leadership of the security forces, adding that his people believed that the top echelons of the services were unwilling or unable to protect them.
He added that the President should also direct the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to set in motion the process for the proscription of the two organisations.
The forum asked state governments in the Middle Belt to , as a matter of urgency, support communities in the region to train vigilance groups in ways of repelling external aggressions.
In addition, the MBF asked the President to direct that all police personnel be posted to their various states of origin in line with the principle of community policing.
Saraki, Dogara meet Buhari, demand overhauling of security agencies
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, held another meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday over the attacks.
At the meeting, the presiding officers of the National Assembly again urged the President to take decisive steps to end the killings and the growing insecurity in the country.
Dogara, who confirmed the meeting in a statement he personally signed, disclosed that the presiding officers used the opportunity to find out what the Buhari administration had done so far to contain the killings across the country.
He also stated that the presiding officers offered advice to Buhari on possible solutions, including calling for the overhauling of the country’s security agencies.
The Speaker noted that the security agencies, as presently constituted, had “failed” in their primary duty of protecting lives and property in the country.
The statement read further, “We call on all relevant government agencies to quickly provide emergency relief services to people in the affected areas.
“I am also restating my earlier call for a total reform and overhauling of our internal security architecture, which has failed to address the spate of insecurity in the land.
Earlier at the Presidential Villa, Dogara, in an interview with State House correspondents, said Buhari was planning a reorganisation of the nation’s security architecture to address growing security challenges in parts of the country.
He, however, did not disclose the details of the reorganisation.
He said, “The President has taken enough steps. These are security issues. They are not matters that you can discuss but he has told us what he is doing, the reorganisation that he plans to put in place to ensure that these don’t happen,” Dogara said.
Dogara said Buhari briefed them on what he saw firsthand when he visited the troubled state on Tuesday and measures he was putting in place to forestall recurrence .
He added, “These are very sober moments for all of us. In a situation where people, in hundreds, are continued to be killed; we can no longer tolerate this kind of situation as a government.
“Whatever it is, we must not lose the fight against violence because we can’t lose that fight and still keep our civilisation.
“If you go to the North-East, you can see the level of devastation caused by Boko Haram. Everything resembling progress-from schools to hospitals to the government institutions- has been pulled down. And we don’t want a replication of this all over the country.”
Saraki also said the President briefed them on the steps being taken to restore peace to troubled spots.
He stated, “As part of the briefing, he explained how steps were being taken to forestall recurrence and restore sanity because this is a great concern to him and to us also.”
Take Buhari to ICC, PDP tells Nigerians
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has declared seven days of mourning for the people killed by herdsmen in Plateau State and other parts of the country.
Consequently, the party directed that its flag at all its offices at all levels across the country be flown at half-mast during the period in honour of the victims.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, stated this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
He urged the people of Plateau State to exercise their rights as global citizens, work with other public-spirited Nigerians and groups and take President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for allegedly acting “helplessly in the face of continuous mass killings in our country.”
He added, “The PDP firmly holds that the life of every Nigerian is sacred. All Nigerians must be protected whether they are Birom, Basange , Igbira, Tiv, Idoma, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani, Gbagyi, Yoruba or from any other tribe whatsoever.
“The fundamental duty of government all over the world is the protection of lives and we can no longer afford to continue to fold our hands while compatriots are daily hacked to death by marauders.”
APC wants killers arrested, tried
On its part, the All Progressives Congress demanded the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of Saturday’s killings in three local government areas of Plateau State.
The party made the demand in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to the statement, there is nothing that could possibly justify the descent into barbarism as was witnessed during the sad event.
The statement partly read, “We also once again call on security agencies to spare no efforts in ensuring the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators and in stemming the occurrence of such violence in all parts of the country.
“The APC commiserates with the government and people of Plateau State over Saturday’s gruesome killings in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state.
“Nothing can justify such descent to barbarism, bestiality and cruelty to a fellow man as witnessed with the gruesome killings.”
Saraki visits Plateau, says N’Assembly will discuss killings next week
The President of the Senate said the National Assembly would, upon resumption next week, revisit the cases of killings in Plateau State and other parts of Nigeria.
Saraki stated that working towards peace in Plateau and the country as a whole must remain the primary responsibility of all Nigerians.
The Senate President, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, was quoted as saying this during a condolence visit to the state.
Saraki was accompanied by the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, and Senator Ubali Shittu. They were received by Lalong at the Plateau State Government House.
The Senate President said, “Although the National Assembly is currently not in session, when we resume next week, this is one of the prime issues that will be up for discussion. However, we thought it necessary to come here personally to meet with the people of Plateau State to commiserate with the families because words cannot really describe this kind of pain.”
He also stated that though it is a difficult time for Plateau, the entire nation stood with the state during the difficult time.
The Senate President also called on the nation’s security agencies to ensure that those responsible for the killings were quickly apprehended to help bring an end to the killings in Plateau.
Saraki said, “We must also ensure that all those who are responsible for these killings must account for them. It is part of providing succour and ensuring the peace. You cannot bring back the lives but finding and prosecuting the perpetrators will go a long way in helping to calm people and ease the pain that they are going through. Therefore, yet again, we call on our security agents to ensure that they find the perpetrators that have done this and make them account for their detestable actions.”
Lalong commended Saraki and the Senate delegation, saying, “As the leader of the North-Central, we welcome you to our state. When this thing started, as the leader of our geopolitical region, you looked for me and you called me despite your busy schedule to ask me, ‘What can I do to help?”
Sani alleges nonchalance by northern leaders
Also, the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, called for a conference of leaders of the North to discuss the killings in the region.
Sani, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, also proposed the formation of a committee that would implement the resolutions reached at the conference.
He stated, “There is an urgent need for the northern religious, traditional, political and community leaders and interest groups to converge, to discuss and find solutions to the violence and bloodshed in northern Nigeria. The meeting should come out with practical, immediate and long time solutions to the bloodshed in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and other terror affected states.
“A standing committee made up of eminent and reputable, non-partisan personalities should be established that will set targets, to implement all recommendations that will end the violence, entrench peace and foster unity. It is evident that most northern leaders have folded their arms and opted for silence. The President alone doesn’t have the monopoly of wisdom to end this tragedy; the government alone cannot solve this problem without the people.”
Sani on his Twitter handle gave a sarcastic response to Nigerians who had alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari had been silent on the killings in the country.
According to him, the President has been “talking each time people are killed.”
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