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Agabus Pwanagba: Plateau Crisis – Military Task Force and 10 years of burden for the pursuit of peace

Among the myriad of problems that Plateau State has faced for nearly two decades, the security of lives and property appears to be the most pressing issue since the outbreak of hostilities on September 7, 2001, in the city of Jos and other communities. in the state.

Unfortunately, the army carrying the onerous burden of enforcing security has been caught in the web of credibility, leaving residents the opportunity to subscribe to the embarrassing “all for themselves and God for all” doctrine.

The acclaimed “House of Peace and Tourism” recently made headlines in local and international media.

The once serene city was subject to a series of ethno-religious crises, while the widespread destruction of lives and property dominated the state.

Houses and places of worship were burned and razed; Innocent people were persecuted, attacked to death or mutilated to belong to a particular faith.

Following the ethno-religious crisis, then President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 ordered the immediate deployment of troops to ensure the safety of citizens across the state, a decision that saw the complete acquisition of the entire state safety net from part of the Nigerian Army, guarded by the commanding general officer, 3rd Armored Division, Jos, Major General Saleh Maina, now retired.

Shortly after the deployment, the unstable situation affecting the whole state so far has been provisionally improved.

Guilty arrests were made and, as is typical of the army’s modus operandi, criminals who enjoyed the freedom to commit brigade acts had full glasses, criminal elements who took advantage of the crisis to plunder people’s property were treated without mercy and normality recovered. some places.

But immediately after the military intervention, the traumatized citizens of the state, in particular Jos and the surrounding area, began to punish the military for alleged complicity, especially when they are accused of partisan behavior in favor of some conflicting parties.

The then general of the government, Major General Saleh Maina was repeatedly accused of siding with the inhabitants of Hausa / Fulani against native details and other settler communities in the city.

The charges were so strong that it generated a press conference to reassure people of their safety.

In addition, reports of fake soldiers operating in military camouflage uniforms were sold while killings continued in the villages.

The military under the command of the Chinese authorities have been accused, among other things, of attacking target populations in their homes, with many of those people shot dead in their homes despite their adherence to the declared curfew 24 around the clock by the state government.

A recent case occurred during the current blockade of COVID-19 on May 12, 2020, Hwolshe Mission Street, a community in Jos South’s local government area, was made to cry after the shooting of a 20-year-old man. Rinji Peter Bala from agents of the Safe Haven operation.

It also emerged that Bala, a level 300 student from Jos University, was arrested approximately the night he was killed in his neighborhood, Hwolshe, during the blockade.

Bala and six others were said to have been brought to Sector 1 headquarters of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) near the new Jos Zaria Road stadium in a military patrol vehicle.

One of the arrested along with the deceased said: “They never told us about our crime, but they tortured us for more than an hour before releasing us.

“When we left, at the door of the headquarters, some soldiers asked us to go. When we left, they opened fire. Bala fell a few meters from the door and then death was confirmed, “he explained.

However, OPSH, through his spokesman, Major Ibrahim Shittu, said he was arrested as a suspected cult cultist / armed robber, because OPSH received news that the two groups mentioned were terrorizing the community during the arrest.

Shittu explained that when asked to leave Sector One facilities, an OPSH guard staff thought they were trying to escape and fired, which mistakenly hit Bala and killed him.

At present, these personnel have been turned over to the police for further investigation / prosecution.

Over the years, it has been strongly argued that the military task force has polarized along religious lines, raising mutual suspicion between military and civil society.

The suspicion grew with the removal of labels from uniforms of officers and men of the armed forces; According to them, it should alleviate the suspicions derived from the names of the members of the team.

In response to the occasion, Defense Headquarters coined the “Operation Safe Haven” special task force, which includes the three military services of the Army, Air Force and Navy, together with the police and other security agencies, which had many different Commanders, as they were trained, to neutralize the possible reactions resulting from the dangerous loss of confidence in the OPSH operations, which without hesitation yielded to its credibility.

Over the years, the military task force has provided free medical care to vulnerable communities and has dug wells, among others, precisely to assure residents of communities affected by the crisis that they must have confidence in the working group peace efforts.

The murders of Dyemburuk [Dogo-Nahauwa] of hundreds of women and children in a border community between Jos South’s and Barkin Ladi’s LGAs on March 7, 2010, were attributed to the unpoptistic attitude of the armed forces which, reportedly, had been informed before the orchestration of the attack ………

The then governor of the state, Jonah Jang, as well as other illustrious sons of the state, accused the then COG of unprofessional manipulation and disrespect for military ethics.

To date, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) is still accused of involvement in the murders inside.

However, despite the relative peace enjoyed in the state despite the fact that pockets of murder still existed; On June 23 and 24, 2018, over 200 people were killed in cold blood in some LGA communities Riyom and Barkin Ladi by attackers suspected of being pastors.

In addition, over 38,000 people have been displaced from their ancestral homes following the above attack.

Not surprisingly, when the senator representing the Northern Senate Plateau and the vice president of the Senate Defense Committee Istifanus Gyang, in February 2020, reiterated the requests made by him and other interested parties, that there will never be forgiveness without restitution if true reconciliation is to be achieved on the northern plateau.

He also said: “If you are occupying the land or property of someone who does not belong to you during the riots that have occurred in this place, you must return it.”

Plateau State has suffered attacks in the past two decades that have resulted in many lives and property. The worst hit is the Plateau North Senate District.

It was concluded that most affected communities abandoned by IDPs in June 2018 were attacked by alleged attackers.

However, with the relative peace and reconciliation efforts underway, hence the demand for restitution by the legislator.

The district of the state of Miango in the Lower LGA and its surrounding villages have for some years been the subject of attacks by suspected Fulani shepherds who have caused over 300 victims and properties for millions of naira destroyed, leaving behind a serious humanitarian crisis.

In addition, some communities of Mangu LGA in the Plateau Central Senate district have recently suffered attacks, in which dozens have been killed and property destroyed.

In the village of Nkiedonwro, in the Miango district of the Lower LGA, on October 16, 2017, where 29 people died, several were injured and many houses were destroyed in the process.

The military was accused of a compromise, as it was reportedly the task force staff who asked the aforementioned victims to leave and remain in a particular location for security reasons before being attacked and killed.

The “Task Safe Haven” army was sent to restore law and order to the state, then under the leadership of Major General Anthony Atolagbe
He said he will investigate the involvement of service soldiers in the village of Nkiedonwhro where 29 people died.

Atolagbe, who revealed it when he went to evaluate the attack on the spot in the village, said that the soldiers were sent to the task force headquarters for an appropriate investigation into how the attack took place in the village under his supervision. Above all that curfew was imposed on the village and there had to be restrictions on movement.

Many of these accusations have been made against the military task force over the years; but unfortunately nothing concrete has come from the authorities.

There are also allegations that once removed from a particular community, the attackers begin attacking the area.

On April 3, 2020, the president of the Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Sunday Abdu, said that the head of the Lower LGA state of Irigwe is concerned about the recent withdrawal of men from your domain’s special security (Operation Safe Haven) group. .

“When this happened on March 21, 2020, we thought it was a routine military action and we expected to see another set deployed. But more than a week has passed since that action was conducted, and here we are with the resumption of hostilities on our soil, “he complained.

“That these atrocities have resumed is the main reason why we need a security presence in our land,” he stressed.

The Nigerian armed forces have an international reputation in the area of ​​altruistic defense of humanity.

The United Nations has found that the Nigerian armed forces are useful in world peace, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, Kosovo, Serbia, among others.

However, people’s opinion in and around Jos about the role of the military task force in restoring peace
The plateau in the last decade.

Mallam Sani Musa, residing on Ali Kazaure Street in Jos North LGA, said he was very satisfied with the military task force in the city.

He said that before his deployment, he and his family could not sleep well, but since they arrived, they have been sleeping well. Although he complained of recent murders in some communities in the state.

Anguwan Doki residing in Jos-South LGA, Patricia James said the military task force had lost credibility; “Before the Jos crisis, I had great respect for the military, but from the chaos of Dyemburuk [Bulldog Nahauwa] in 2010 and the silent killings in rural areas, where people always challenge their proactivity, I have lost my respect for them” .

However, it is worth noting that the military is a product of society, therefore it is a reflection of society, it does not make sense to be antagonistic to the military, because inside there are Christians, Muslims, pagans and also, to attack and kill specific people for Religion or ethnicity reasons will kill brothers and sisters if they really want to serve this nation.

The military task force since its formation ten years ago on the plateau has tried to restore peace, but has also caused pain to some communities in the state through some of the problems mentioned above.

The Military Task Force (OPSH) is now led by Major General Chukwuma Okonkwo, who took over from Major General Augustine Agundu two months ago; Unfortunately, the killings continued inside.

The question on practically everyone on the Plateau is that, after ten years on the ground and the killings have continued unabated, when will it stop?

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