President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed regrets over the Plateau State killings and vowed that his administration will bring the murderers and sponsors to justice.
Reacting on his twitter handle; @MBuhari, on Sunday night, the President described the killings as “very painful and regrettable’’.
Buhari condoled with communities and families of those affected by the dastardly act.
He tweeted: ”The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau today is painful and regrettable.
“My deepest condolences to the affected communities. We will not rest until all murderers and criminal elements and their sponsors are incapacitated and brought to justice.’’
The Police confirmed that 86 people were killed in attacks on Razat, Ruku, Nyarr, Kura and Gana-Ropp villages of Gashish District in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Simon Lalong imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on three local government areas – Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos South – to check further breakdown of law and order.
In a statement yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the President said: “We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes.
“But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate.
“Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmers clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.’’
The Presidency quoted security information which indicated that about 100 cattle were rustled by a community in Plateau State, and some herdsmen were killed.
The report also revealed that Lalong, had invited the aggrieved groups and pleaded against further action while the law enforcement agents looked into the matter.
Less than 24 hours later, violence broke out.
It further stated that some local thugs then took advantage of the situation, turning it into an opportunity to extort the public, and to attack people from rival political parties.
“There were reports of vehicles being stopped, with people being dragged out of their cars and attacked if they stated that they supported certain politicians or political parties.
“On his way back to Jos after attending the All Progressives Congress (APC) Convention in Abuja, the state governor had to dismantle a number of illegal road blocks set up by these thugs. There were also a number of dead bodies thugs had killed, lying along the road,’’ the report added.
In a broadcast to the people yesterday, Lalong said the government would reinforce security in attack-prone communities.
He said: “Government has taken decisive steps to reinforce security, particularly in communities prone to attacks.
“In the same vein, government is working to tackle the underlying causes of conflict.’’
The governor said that the resurgence of violence in the state was reprehensible as much as condemnable.
Lalong, who condoled with the families of those affected, prayed God to grant the deceased rest in His glorified kingdom.
The governor assured the people that the government was conscious of its responsibilities of protection of lives and properties of its citizenry.
“I took oath to protect and secure the lives and property of our citizens as governor of Plateau.
“For this reason, my administration has placed high premium on peace, security and good governance, being the first item on our five-pillar policy thrust.
“Regardless of the threat we face today, we remain resolute in our commitment to arrest the vicious circle of violence and lay the foundation of sustainable peace,” he added.
Lalong urged all and sundry to exercise restraint, observe the curfew in place, saying that traditional rulers, religious leaders, elders, political leaders and their subjects should remain vigilant.
Lalong also advised them to cooperate with security agencies working to keep the peace.
“Let me strongly caution against any deliberate attempt to politicise the crises, giving it religious colouration, fake news, deliberate distortions and misinformation.
“Government through the appropriate security agencies will not hesitate to deal decisively with any trouble maker or peace spoiler,” the governor warned.