By Lateef Adegbite
Banditry appears to have returned to the north central state of Plateau state after several years of relative Calm. Recall that the violence in the state during Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency between armed herdsmen and farmers was so pronounced that the former Ogun state born Nigerian President, declared a state of emergency in the Yakubu Gowon Home state.
The crisis was said to have led to the dissolution of the state Executive Council and sack of Joshua Dariye, the state governor, as well as the dissolution of the state House of Assembly for failing ‘’to end the cycle of violence between the Muslims and Christian Communities in the state. The bloodletting was said to have claimed more than 100,000 lives.
Th then Nigerian President had appointed Chris Ali, a retired Army General to take over control of the Affairs of the state and ensure that there was peace. It was not surprising why successive Adminisrations and Samuel Lanlong, the Present governor of the state appeared to have enjoyed relative peace until the insecurity situation in the neighbouring Benue state and Niger, home state of retired Generals Ibrahim Babangida a former military President and Abdulsalami Abubakar,, a former Head of Stat in the recent time.
The recent attacks in the Jos North and Riyom Local government Areas bear eloquent testimony to the return of violence in the state. The Suspected herdsmen were said to have attacked Dong Community and its environs in Jos North Local Government Area in the state.
Daniel Chioji, the village Head had said that the armed herdsmen attackers who invaded the village on Sunday, May, 23, 2021, came under the cover of darkness to unleash the mayhem, leaving eight persons dead, comprising of five females, two males and one infant.
Another village that was said to have been raided by the armed herdsmen was Kiwi, in Riyom Local Government Area, which a resident of Jos told The Value News is about a Kilometer rayfield Airport, now renamed Yakubu Gown Airport where eight people were said to have been killed. This is an indication that the armed herdsmen have entered the City, meaning that lives of passengers and other motorists plying between the Yakubu Gowon Airport and the city are in danger without adequate security arrangement on the two flashpoint Local government Areas in the state. Residents said eight persons were killed and one other persons injured.
Describing the armed herdsmen who had carried out the attack in the two Communities in the two Local Government Areas in the state as barbaric, senseless and inhuman, an aggrieved Timothy Datong, a member of the State House Of Assembly, has called on ‘’he security operatives to live up to their responsibilities by responding to distress calls at every point in time to be able to contain the activities of the Killer gang herdsmen. .
Gabriel Ubah, the Plateau state Police Command, spokesperson, had confirmed that the Command actually received a distress call from the Communities attacked by the armed herdsmen. He had said that they responded with ‘’the deployment of a combined team of security personnel led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police to confront the attacks, who were forced to flee. He disclosed that the officers have been deployed’’ to the flashpoint areas in the state to avoid a total breakdown of Law and order in the state’’.
But the people appear to have disagreed that the state Police Command responded to their distress Call. They noted that if the Command had responded quickly to their distress call the armed herdsmen could not have been able to kill the sixteen people in the two Communities attacked. This may have informed why Datong, a member of the State House of Assemble had appealed to the Law Enforcement Authorities to always take distress calls serious .
He has urged the Plateay state Law enforcement Operatives to ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous acts in Dong and Kiwi Communities in Jos North and Riyom Local Government Areas respectively, were apprehended and dealt with according to the Laws of the land.
The situation in Niger, Babangida , home state, looks more worrisome. The Banditry and kidnapping situation in the Gauraka Community in the Tarfa Local government Area, which is about five Kilometers from Abuja , the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to block the Abuja and Kaduna expressway to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and his security Chiefs to the incessant cases of kidnapping by Bandits who are said to be Collaborating with the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHarram ,fighters , in the state.
The aggrieved residents of Garuka Community had said that the kidnapping situation became worse ever since Abubakar Bello, the state governor, announced that the the north east state of Borno based insurgents had infiltrated the Shiroro Local Government Area of the state and hoisted their flag in some of the communities. The Garuka Community residents may have shocked Nigerians when they revealed that between April and now, more than 30 people had been kidnapped from the Community by the Bandits who were said to have demanded millions of naira ransom from the state government before they could be released.
There is no gainsaying the fact that since the IBB home state came under the attacks of the Bandits between last year and now, hundreds of people were said to have been killed and over 15,000 people displaced in their respective homes and now taking refuge in a temporary Internally Displaced People, IDP’s, Camp, in the state, provided by Bello, the state governor.
Perhaps, to stop further attack on the Community and spread to the neighbouring Plateau state and the FCT, the Garuka residents had asked Usman Alkali Baba, the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, and the military Authorities to deploy more policemen and military personnel respectively to the Community and other flashpoint Communities in the Tafa Local Government Area of the state.
Henry Ayoola, a retired Army Major General, had said that there was no basis for the rising insecurity situation in the north east and other parts of the country. The retired Army Major General had said that both Haram and the Islamic state of West African Province, ISWAP fighters, including the Bandits operating in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, home state of Buhari, as well as the north central state of Niger, and the armed herdsmen, terrorising the country, could easily be defeated with an’’ overwhelming Force’’.
The retired Army major General had said that for the country to beat the Criminal elements , the fighting troops must show superiority in armaments, intelligence gathering ,psychological operations and Propaganda. Worried over what is happening in the country, Ayoola, who had appeared on Channels Television recently had challenged the fighting troops that they must the beat the BokoHaram and ISWAP fighters to it including the Bandits and armed herdsmen , who are gradually spreading to other parts of country to it.
Given his experience , he noted with ‘’a combination of more military personnel in the north east states of Borno, Yobe and north west states of Zamfaa, Kaduna and Katsina including the north central state of Niger, arms and strategic training , the security threats against the country can be tackled’’. He has suggested that on the attack on the Criminal elements ‘’it should be on a greater ratio of 3:1. According to him, ‘’this should cover all round equipment, armament, information and intelligence
.Isiak Oladayo Amao, an Air Marshall and Chief of Air Staff, who is worried that between February 21, 2021 and May 21, 2021, a space of three months, NAF, had lost three of its procured Beechcraft operational Aircrafts within a space of three months used in supporting the ground troops and carrying out other activities has set up a Committee’’ to conduct a safety audit of all the NAF, operational and the engineering units which are responsible for the manning the Force operational Aircrafts.
The Committee , which is headed by Abraham Adole, an Air Vice Marshall, a Deputy Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, based in Maiduguri, Capital of Borno state, has members drawn from both serving and retired officers ‘’of the NAF. The Committee members were said to have been mandated ‘to analyse safety reports from operational and engineering units and recommend measures to enhance safety operations in the units. They were said to have been advised to interact also with the units operational and technical personnel ‘’ to get their views and Observations, and contributions on safety measures’’.
Amao, the CAS, may have been encouraged to set up the Committee because of the Friday, May 21, Crash near the Kaduna International Airport which claimed the lives of Ibrahim Attahiru, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Brigadier Generals Mi. Abdulkadir, Olayinka,and Kuliya including Majors L.A. Hayat and Hanza and Sergeants Umar and Adasina including Onyedepo, the ACM.. T.o. Asani and Olufade, both Flt Lts. were said to have also lost their live in the crash.
In a related development, the Katsina state born Nigerian President appears to have bowed to pressure from several quarters to overrule the 17 southern states governors’ decision to ban open grazing I the region as a way to forestall incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
A Statement issued by Garba Shehu, a senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President, on Media and Publicity at the instance of the retired Army General had said the southern governors resolutions banning pen grazing in the southern part of the country failed ‘’to provide solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herdsmen in the country’’. The Presidential Media Aide said Buhari has ‘’Comissioned an approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states, starting with those that are Committed to the solution and complaints with stated requirements’’.
Samuel Ortom, a former minister of State, Trade and Investment during Goodluck Jonathan Presidency and now governor of Benue state, who is having a running battle with armed herdsmen in the state, had said that the All Progressive Congress, APC, led Federal government insistence on open grazing I the country is curious and would heighten the insecurity situation of he country’’.
Ortom, who could not hide his feelings was said to have told the Nigerian President to abandon his planned rehabilitation work on grazing reserves in the country in June 2021, noting that open grazing is n longer sustainable in view of the growing urbanization and population of the country.
An aggrieve Benue state state governor, said the Presidency is alone in pushing for the continuation of the open grazing and return of cattle routes of the 150s and 1960s’’. He noted that by the Presidential decision to rehabilitate grazing reserves, he has clearly shown his support to the herdsmen and further embolden the armed herders who ‘’ lay claim to all lands in Nigeria as belonging to the Fullani to repeatedly invade Communities in different parts of the country and killing the original owners of such lands’’. ‘’Mr. President, Nigerians are not on the same page with you on Pen grazing’’, he was said to have told him . Hear him: it is too late to salvage the situation.