Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has held Plateau State elders and elite culpable for allegedly stoking the incessant and repeated violent clashes and their escalation in the state.
Gen. Buratai, who was represented by the Commander, Special Task Force (STF) code named Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH), Maj.-Gen. Augustine Agundu stated this at the burial ceremony of the three soldiers that were recently brutally killed in Barkin Ladi area of the state on September 6, 2018.
The Army chief revealed that the body language of the elite and elders, their actions and inactions, have emboldened the youth to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.
According to him, “OPSH effectively came into force on 21 January, 2010 but the crises on the Plateau has lingered prior to the establishment of the operation in 2000/2001 with vulnerable persons bearing the brunt of the crises.
“In recent times the bane of the crises has revolve around total act of criminality by some unguided and irate youths mostly under the influence of hard substances.
“It is evident that these youths are supported by a section of the elites/elders bearing their inability to encourage them to eschew violence resulting in the absence of any tangible progress towards peace.
“The actions or inactions of the elders can be classified as one of the contributory sources that has rather emboldened the youths to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.
“Human dignity has lost its value on the Plateau. The troops of OPSH like all service personnel are officially detailed to Plateau State to perform the duties upon which they swore on oath to serve the nation.”
Gen. Buratai said that in recent past, the mere presence of troops serves as a deterrent to the warring parties to toe the path of law and order, but unfortunately service personnel are increasingly becoming victims of internal strife and most often their success stories go unnoticed.
He continued, “It is evident that there exist armed ethnic militia groups sponsored or supported by some elite and elders who deploy the misguided youths into committing the worst of heinous crimes.
“There is certainly no constitutional provision that allows civilians to bear fire arms but their possession has become a well sort-out vocation here in the Plateau.
“The DHQ Special Force (SF) Team was deployed to OPSH on 25 June 2018 as a result of the growing insecurity and lawlessness in some communities of Barkin Ladi LGA in Plateau State.
“Indeed, their deployment in OPSH greatly assisted in bringing normalcy to the area as well as creating an enabling environment for people to go about their normal lives.”
He said the avoidable incident of September 6, 2018, led to the death of the gallant soldiers who battled the armed militias in order to save the communities that were under attack.
“This is why we are gathered here this morning to pay our tributes to these gallant heroes who died in the search for peace on the Plateau.
“It is with grief-stricken heart and profound sense of loss of these soldiers, who are fathers and husbands that I commiserate with the families over the tragic loss of our dear soldiers.
“The DHQ SF Team, OPSH and the Armed Forces of Nigeria have lost one of their fearless Special Forces soldiers that exhibited courage and steadfastness even unto death and in the search for peace on the Plateau.
“May their names be written in heavenly places as men of honour whose only offense is their willingness to serve the Federal Government of Nigeria as soldiers.
“As your candle dims this day, be rest assured that we the living will work assiduously to restore peace on the Plateau, for which you died. Your deaths shall never be in vein.”
Also, on Wednesday, at the OPSH headquarters, Gen. Agundu disclosed, while parading 27 persons including two women allegedly arrested in connection with the recent violence in Jos.
He said though 72 persons were arrested, after investigations about 30 of them confessed to the crime, of which the 27 were paraded, warning that it would no longer tolerate any further attempt to attack the troops.
Gen. Agundu, in his capacity as Commander of OPSH, also condemned what he described as the conspiracy of silence among the elders and elite going on in the state.
“But they keep quiet. If they want to stop this act of violence and criminality, they can do so within a twinkle of an eye.”
He also dismissed what he described as ‘media hype’ about fake soldiers, saying there is no fake soldier going from door to door. “The dexterity my men exhibited was what marveled the criminals.”
He, however, admitted that there were some criminals in black attires perpetrating violence that have been arrested as you can see them here, but they are not soldiers.