• Osinbajo visits, holds closed-door meeting with Lalong
• Police, military deploy personnel, planes
• CAN, PDP others condemn massacre
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) explained yesterday why perpetrators of Sunday’s Plateau killings struck.
While the police put the death toll at 86, some residents claimed about 120 persons were killed in Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South Local Government Areas of the state.
In a statement, the Chairman, North Central Zone of MACBAN, Danladi Ciroma, said: “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human beings, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities, but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks: 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village. Another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu. ”
MACBAN has in the past been accused of being behind deadly attacks on communities across the country.
Ciroma said: “Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas; even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers (who) eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts.
“Though the security agencies have tried, they need to do more by being fair to all parties; they should not neglect any report presented by Fulani (about) Berom, because such a report can lead to attacks and deaths if not properly handled.”
He added: “Criminals thrive a lot in Berom communities, but when the Fulani, who are always victims of their crime, react with attacks, they blame the government.
“These communities have leaders. Why hide the criminals? They should fish out the criminals and hand them over to security agencies, to avoid death of innocent ones.
“As it is today, the Berom man cannot go to farm and the Fulani cannot breed his cows in Berom land. This can be stopped if the security agencies do more than what they are currently doing. The attacks will stop, as soon as the security agencies stop Berom youths from stealing Fulani cows.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited Jos, the state capital, yesterday, and held a closed-door meeting with Governor Simon Lalong.
In a broadcast before the visit, Lalong had said the state would not be dragged into its gory past and that the government had taken decisive steps to reinforce security, especially in attack-prone communities, while tackling the underlying causes of the conflict.
It came as the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, ordered the deployment of a special force to the state.
“The intervention is to put an end to the crisis. The Deputy Inspector General of Police (Department of Operations) is being relocated on the directive of the IGP to Jos, Plateau State, to coordinate and supervise the operations on the ground,” said a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood.
The deployment include: two aerial surveillance helicopters, five Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), three Police Mobile Force Units, two Counter Terrorism Cells, Police Intelligence Unit, and conventional police personnel from other states.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) also deployed a Mi-35P combat helicopter and an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft to the state, even as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin authorised the deployment of Special Forces to beef up the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) security outfit in the state.
Reacting to the killings, earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said it was “incredibly unfortunate” that politicians were “taking advantage of the situation.”
He advised: “Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.”
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the statement as “extremely callous, inhuman and brazenly divisive,” urging Buhari to tender an unreserved apology.
Its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was shocking that, as the father of the nation, the president had no soothing or reassuring words for the victims but aggravated their pains with the unguarded comments.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on its part, expressed shock at the killings and called for the intervention of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the African Union.
CAN President, Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, said: “We are at a loss how scores of people can be killed without any form of resistance by soldiers deployed to contain the security challenge. How could daredevil criminals assault communities without resistance by security agencies? Are these herdsmen in bed with soldiers, to unleash mayhem on these peaceful communities?”
Calling for a review of the nation’s security machinery, he asked: “What relevance is the intelligence gathering by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies? If communities can be attacked and hundreds slaughtered without security organisations providing rescue efforts, then it becomes obvious that Nigeria’s security system has been compromised.”
Courtesy: Guardian Nigeria