3rd May, 2012
The Plateau State Government has cried out over what it alleged was a “genocide” being carried out against its people through organised night attacks.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Abraham Yiljap, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Wednesday that generations were being wiped out particularly in Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas.
“Death is made to look very cheap in Plateau. People just walk in, kill a whole family in cold blood and disappear and at the end of the day, nobody is apprehended, nobody is challenged, and the kinds of killing we have are of children, women and the aged.
“People are woken up in their sleep by sound of gunfire. Villagers are maimed and killed by machette wielding men who also set their homes on fire, displacing the survivors.
“Of recent, you have heard of series of attacks in the villages, especially Barkin-Ladi and Riyom, where communities were attacked continuously on a daily basis and we have always said that this should not go on anymore.
“It is looking more and more like a genocide because generations are being wiped off. You have families that have lost the man, his wife and children and we have failed to see the implication of killings of infants and women.”
Yiljap expressed sadness that the series of attacks had continued to ravage the entire length and breadth of the state over the past 10 years from 2001 and had worsened from 2008 till date.
The commissioner noted that the sectarian crises had overwhelmed the police, forcing the Federal Government to step in through the establishment of the military Special Task Force (STF) to prevent the situation from degenerating into a national crisis.
“We are glad that we have made some inroads as far as security issues are concerned in Plateau; but for the task force here on ground, the situation would have been more overwhelming.”
Yiljap, however, said the state government had to establish its own security organ, Operation Rainbow, so as to further safeguard the security of lives and property, particularly in rural areas.
“The Operation Rainbow is community-focused and people-centred. The outfit has employed, trained and deployed 2,000 operatives and they are working within the communities in what we call the “Neighbourhood Watch.”
“Through the outfit, vital information comes back to the security services, the SSS, STF, Police and the state government.
“The outfit ensures that all the information that is needed is actually brought in and processed into intelligence.”
Yiljap said through the intelligence gathered, the state security council had, last week, convened an emergency session and ordered for the arrest of three community leaders in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom over constant attacks orchestrated by their communities.
He said that the leaders were arrested by the STF, interrogated by the Police and were charged to court for not maintaining peace and for aiding criminality in their communities.
“The leaders have been released on bail but on bond as well. They have signed an undertaking that if any violence breaks out within their areas, they would be held responsible.
“So we are expecting that they will be talking to their people more and more. The STF is also adopting some unconventional strategies to make sure the attacks ceased completely.”
Yiljap challenged communities to form vigilante groups as well as take other measures aimed at safeguarding their lives and property from incessant attacks.
“We will have to pursue these attackers because they are not spirits. They are human beings, they can be seen, they come from somewhere, lodged somewhere, get their arms, feed and rest somewhere.
“We have to follow such tips to catch them.”
He urged communities to co-exist peacefully so that the soldiers, who are common sights everywhere in the state, could go back to their barracks for the police to handle conventional security challenges.