Several angry youths hit the streets yesterday in Jos, the Plateau State capital. to protesting weekend’s attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen in which hundreds of people died.
Security agents were fast in stopping the protesters from taking their battle to the city centre.
The protesters claimed that security agencies did not protect the attacked villagers during the gunmen’s invasion.
In Bukuru, they blocked the federal highway and set up bonfires.
Before noon, all was calm on the streets. Elswhere, there were verbal battles over the killings.
Stakeholders resorted to a blame game over the killings in Berom communities by people believed to be Fulani herdsmen.
Berom leaders said Goveror Simon Lalong should be held responsible for failing to protect lives and properties. Fulani leaders and youths said the governor had done his best to secure the state.
After an on-the-spot assessment of villages attacked by herdsmen in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, the Plateau Concerned Professionals Forum (PCPF) insisted that it was important Lalong should consolidate on the existing relationship with security formations.
Speaking through the Convener, Dr Pam Chuwang, the group decried the renewed killings in some parts of the state, describing the action as not only “barbaric” and “reprehensible”, but also “untenable” and “unacceptable”.
Dr Chuwang said: “The Plateau State Government needs to urgently develop the political will to end these killings in the state. How can people be killed like animals just like that?
“While we appeal for calm, restraint to residents and warn against reprisals, it is important to call on the state government to further consolidate on the existing relationship with the security formations in the state particularly Operation Safe Haven, OPSH, the Nigeria Police Mobile Force and the Department for State Services, DSS, to bring to the barest minimum these unfortunate incidents.”
“We are particularly displeased with the performance of some security agencies who abandoned their entire work for Operation Safe Haven for reasons best known to them. What about the people specially trained to gather intelligence? Where were they when these terrorists were planning? This is sad and can no longer be tolerated”
He said the group’s visit to the villages was for an on- the – spot assessment of the situation and to interact with the locals,” perhaps so as to have a clearer understanding of the issues and foster suggestions for a sustainable mutual relationship with the security and the locals”.
“It is consequent on the above premise that The Plateau Concerned Professionals Forum has embarked on this stakeholder meeting to chart a way forward for peace in order to guarantee that prosperity that every society so much cherishes. We are of the considered view that without peace, there can be no prosperity, without prosperity, there can be no peace conversely.”
The group applauded the efforts of the military task force, “Operation Safe Haven”, for the timely deployment of personnel to the crisis scene, a development, it noted, which curtailed the level of carnage by the herdsmen. “Indeed, if not for the timely response of the Operation Safe Haven, one wonders how the spate of killings would have gone on unabated and to no end. We are particularly comforted by the special and proactive nature of the operation OPSH officers.
“This commendation to the security agencies is particularly important because despite the difficult terrain and the unpredictable nature and sequence of the attacks , the Operation Safe Haven officers have demonstrated tremendous capacity to repel and forestall further attacks on the people,” it said.
According to Chuwang, “despite the challenges and unfortunate occurrence, the local community people have expressed delight to the men of OPSH”. “Without their prompt intervention, the casualties would be more severe and unimaginable. As a matter of fact, these attackers would have wiped out all our communities.
“It is our considered view that we focus on areas of strengthening peace in the society and eschew bitterness and politics as well as religious sentiments which are sustained by individual and community speculation.”
The group, according to Chuwang, promised to facilitate an open stakeholders meeting with residents and security agencies as well as the civil society and mass media to address the issues and chart a way forward for peace and stability in the state”.
The Fulani community exonerated the governor of blame over the attacks. They commended Lalong for restoring peace since he took over in 2015, but said his efforts were being frustrated by criminal elements in the localities.
The Plateau Regeneration Group (PRG) said: “As a group we know that Governor Lalong as a man who is determined to restore peace; that is why no one was surprised when immediately after his inauguration, the governor made enthronement of peace the main thrust of his administration.
“It is a common knowledge on the Plateau that before the advent of the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration, the state had been dragged behind by protracted crises that had bedeviled previous administrations, with over 14 years of communal, ethnic and religious crises.
“The aftermath of these sustained crises in the state was not just limited to monumental loss of lives and valuable properties belonging to government and citizens, it also sent away investors and tourists who should have contributed to the development of the state. Investors feared that any investment in the state at that time was as good as a waste of time and resources.
“We should not be blaming Lalong for this crisis ,because we know that the Lalong-led administration is working round the clock in collaboration with security operatives to ensure that the perpetrators of this act are brought to book.”