Violence in the University of Jos leading to deaths is bad enough. The search for a missing retired Major-General of the Nigerian Army may lead to flaring tempers. Nothing, however, can mitigate the wanton killing of 18 innocent Nigerians on Wednesday, 3rd October, by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Like similar attacks in the past, the gun-men descended on Ariri Village, Miango District of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State and opened fire. Indeed, a community member, Lawrence Ishaku, revealed that a family of eight was wiped out in the attack. Four others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. Other casualties were recorded at different locations in the community.
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As though the above incidents were not enough, an early morning attack on nine villages in Barkin Ladi on October 6 is said to have claimed more than 20 lives. The distinguishing factor in this particular attack was the use of explosives by the attackers who were said to have come in a large group and opened fire at random. Barkin Ladi is a district that has been repeatedly attacked in the past, and the spokesman of the Special Task Force in the state, Salisu Mustapha, confirmed the incident and said officers have been mobilised to get to the area and that investigations have commenced. The exact identity of the attackers is a bit murky. Some eyewitnesses saw armed men dressed in bullet-proof vests and in army camouflage colours, suggesting that fake military men are probably out for mischief, a phenomenon that has bothered many Plateau State citizens in recent months. Indeed, the mayhem which took place in Jos on 28th September in which at least 10 persons were feared killed arose from gunmen who dressed like military men. That incident nearly inspired a breakdown of law and order in Jos, and inter-ethnic fights with the Beroms and the Miango Youths accusing the Fulani as the perpetrators.
We appreciate the swift action of the Federal Government which in reaction to the current state of insecurity had seen the Inspector General of Police replacing the state Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, with Austin Agbonlahor. Indeed, the four most troublesome local government areas in terms of security – Jos North, Jos South, Riyom and Barkin Ladi – were excluded from the local government elections. We congratulate the new Police Commissioner for his new posting. We also wish him luck while urging him to end the virtual incessant killings in the state. The reaction of University of Jos students to the killing of two of their colleagues is predictable. But students must never resort to self-help which tends to worsen insecurity and make bad situations worse.
We sympathise with the Nigerian Army on the disappearance of Major-General Ibrahim Alkali and we join all patriotic Nigerians in support of a special resolution of the Senate that he be found. But we also appeal to the Army to search for their senior officer with an open mind and avoid mistreating innocent citizens. The Army is entitled to raise suspicions and follow every lead and investigate every possible clue. The Army investigators would do these things better if they have the support of the people.
The frustration of Nigerians over the killings in recent years has been the inability of the Federal Government to find the killers and put them to trial. Thus within a week, dozens of Nigerians have been killed and many houses burnt down and not a single person has been arrested. Now the election season is upon us and insecurity has prevented local elections in four local government areas of the state. Government must ensure that the security of every Nigerian should be its priority.