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COAS to Plateau governor: Bring all on board to end killings

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, yesterday advised the Plateau State governor, Caleb Muftwang, to immediately convene a meeting of critical stakeholders…

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, yesterday advised the Plateau State governor, Caleb Muftwang, to immediately convene a meeting of critical stakeholders to end the raging killings in the state.

Daily Trust reports that the state has been in the spotlight in the past five months over rising killings in the state. A tally by this paper last month showed that a total of 201 persons were reported killed in the state in the last five months.

Speaking at Army Headquarters, Abuja when the governor paid him a courtesy visit, the COAS said the governor should bring on board for the meeting; traditional rulers, clerics and clergy, opinion moulders, among other stakeholders who will ensure stability in the state.

Lagbaja said he had earlier requested a situation report from the General Officer Commanding 3 Division to know the root cause of the killings in the state.

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According to the army chief, the report he got was that it is only the expanded stakeholders’ meeting that can end the killings, appealing that “jaw-jaw is better than war-war”.

“From our experience and from our own documentation at this headquarters, the crisis in Plateau is largely due to farmers/herders clashes that had been limited to the three local governments of the Riyom, Jos South and Barkin-Ladi.

 “So, when the crisis in Mangu started, we became alarmed, it is not only in this headquarters we were alarmed, it showed across all the segments of the government.

“The day I took over as the Chief of Army Staff, I had a conversation with the Commander-in-Chief while he was away in France. I knew he was concerned about the situation in Plateau.

“So, Your Excellency, be rest assured that you have come to the right place to seek a solution to the security challenges.

“We have taken some measures and we believe those measures will yield the desired results quickly and we are still receiving reports from the field to see other areas of intervention that can bring lasting peace to the troubled local government and even the entire Plateau State.

“We will stop at nothing in providing the combat enablers and other interventions that are required to bring lasting peace to the state.

 “Shortly before you arrived at this headquarters, I received a report from the field, from the GOC, 3 Division. He sent me a report because I’m interested in what he’s doing and they told me of what he has done in concert with the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies in the theatre of operation.

“And he has asked that we explore available channels to bring to the attention of your Excellency the need to convene an expanded stakeholders’ meeting of the team.

 “Because we know that when the crisis is driven out of passion, it’s usually intractable and it is better to bring all stakeholders to the table and let them “jaw-jaw” rather than “war-war.

“I will appeal to you, Your Excellency, to look at the possibility of calling all stakeholders on the Plateau to a meeting. Let them express the grievances in their hearts, then the solutions can come out from such discussion,” he said.

He also called on the governor to rejig the security outfit of the state, adding that he should consider the reports of all previous commissions of inquiry.


We are at a very challenging junction – Gov 

Earlier, Governor Muftwang urged the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to ensure that the crisis in the state was promptly brought to an end.

“Plateau at the moment is at a very challenging junction and we know that we will not be able to get out of the woods without the adequate support and involvement of the armed forces.

“Of recent, Plateau, and particularly Mangu, has been in the news and I am glad to report that under the new GOC, we have begun to witness some return to peace and order.

“We want to trust that the chief of army staff will give them all the needed support to be able to bring an end to this unnecessary conflagration.

“Plateau as you all know, is known to be the home of peace and tourism and we are determined to ensure that that status is not lost.

“We want to ensure that Plateau remains home to every Nigerian and a compelling destination where every Nigerian that wants to find a place of refuge and a place of rest will go,” he said.

Also yesterday, the army chief vowed that the force would not consider any amnesty again for bandits terrorising Zamfara and other states in the North West zone of the country.

He said the amnesty programme had failed to achieve its purpose in the past, stressing that it only gave criminals the opportunity to regroup, reorganise and launch attacks on defenceless citizens.

The COAS stated this at Army Headquarters, Abuja while playing host to the Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal.

The army chief’s position came on the heels of recent call by a former governor of the state, Sani Yerima, who suggested that bandits be given amnesty.

Yerima had, a few days ago, asked President Bola Tinubu to negotiate with terror gangs operating in Zamfara State and other parts of the North West of the country.

But apparently reacting to the call for amnesty during the visit, Lagbaja maintained that the troops need free hand to wipe out the adversaries tormenting innocent Nigerians on their farms, homes and other places.

“We also have the issue of the amnesty programme that has been instituted, and which has failed not only in Zamfara, but in so many other states of the North West.

“So, I think, Your Excellency, we need to look at this issue of the amnesty programme because the criminal elements have proven to be incorrigible.

“The issue of amnesty has created an avenue for them to regroup and reorganise to launch attacks on our defenceless citizens. So I think we need to look at that,” Lagbaja said.

Speaking further, the army chief appealed to the state governor and his colleagues to give the military free hand to operate, especially in various theatres of combat where various operations are currently ongoing.

He also said he had charged the Chief of Military Intelligence to address the issue of vigilante groups in the state, saying Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi would know peace if Zamfara challenges are addressed.


Zamfara gov speaks 

On his part, the governor described as “worrisome and big setbacks” for the state, a situation where children could not go to school due to killings.

Lawal said though the troops were doing very well to secure the state, there was need for serious intervention in terms of the level of manpower.

He said, “We need to have more people, especially the military, to be deployed to Zamfara and complement the efforts security officers are making in combating crime.

“In fact, I will say without mincing words, that Zamfara is the state that is facing the most challenge in the area of insecurity today.

“Therefore, for me, being the number one citizen, part of my responsibility is protecting lives and properties, but I cannot do this alone.”


Lawal, Muftwang meet CDS 

Earlier, before meeting the army chief, Zamfara State Governor Lawal, had met with the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa, behind closed doors over security challenges bedeviling his state.

Lawal, who arrived at the premises of the armed forces complex in Abuja at about 12:22pm, sought the intervention of the military high command in containing banditry in the state which has claimed the lives of many Nigerians.

On his part, Plateau State governor, Barr. Caleb Muftwang, said he came to congratulate the army chief for the well-deserved appointment as well as seek his support on the current crisis in his state, adding that he was confident the president did not make a mistake in appointing him.

He said Nigerians were hoping that the Nigerian Army under Lagbaja would meet their expectations and bring about lasting peace in the country.

Also in an interview with journalists, the CDS assured the two governors of his support, saying the military high command would ensure that all their requests are attended to.


Troops kill 3 gunmen in Mangu 

Meanwhile, a combat team from Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) maintaining peace in Plateau State yesterday killed three gunmen around the Pushit community of Mangu Local Government Area of the state. One of the gunmen killed was wearing a Constabulary Police ID card bearing Katzing Zwalnan Zingfa from Langtang North Division.

Villages of Mangu LGA have in recent times been under attacks by gunmen which leave many people killed.

The spokesman of the operation, Captain Oya James, who confirmed the incident in a statement, said it occurred when they responded to a distress call in the area.

He said the culprits were believed to be among the miscreants fomenting trouble in Mangu LGA.

When contacted to confirm the identity of the policeman, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, DSP Alabo Alfred, said an investigation was ongoing.


By Idowu Isamotu (Abuja) & Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos)

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