Written by Okey Muogbo, Isaac Shobayo, Taiwo Adisa and Kolawole Daniel:
• Soldiers shoot 3; women protest
• Fear grips military officers, ministers after Mukhtar’s sack
• Why Jonathan settled for Gusau
• CAN faults Gusau’s appointment
PLATEAU State governor, Mr. Jonah Jang, on Tuesday, blamed the army for the recent killings in his state, saying his earlier information on arms build-up in the villages was ignored by the army.
Speaking with reporters after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held at the State House, Abuja, Jang said: “I received reports at about 9.00 p.m. that some movement of people with arms was seen around those villages, and I reported to the commander of the army and he told me he was going to move some troops there, and because it is near where I live, I even saw a tank pass through my house and I thought it was going towards that area.
“Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they had started burning the villages and people were being hacked to death and I started trying to locate the commanders but I couldn’t get any of them on the telephone.”
He said “this attack could have been avoided if they acted on his report,” lamenting that though governors were chief security officers, they did not have any control over the soldiers and the law enforcement agents.
“I have said it several times, state governors are highly incapacitated. You are the chief security officer of a state, you don’t command even a fly. What do you use to stop anything? Security report that I gave, I didn’t even get that security report officially; it was the villagers themselves that saw the movements and reported. I didn’t receive any security report about what was going to happen.
“So the security people should have to double up their efforts, particularly the army that said they have now taken over security in Plateau State, because the police are unable to cope. I expect that the army should live up to expectations and stop the carnage in Plateau, if they cannot, then they should as well get out of the place.”
Governor Jang went further to say that “we were caught unawares. The present attack I don’t know for what, but what was written in the Daily Trust today (Tuesday) tried to justify it as a reprisal attack for what happened in Kuru-jenta on January 17.
“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think Fulanis were involved in what happened in Kurujenta. If you look at the houses that were burnt there, Kurujenta is a tin-mining camp and houses burnt there, I mean everybody who lived there was involved.
“You could not say it was one-sided because the houses that were burnt cut across, which means the killings cut across. But what happened there, some people moved Aljazeera there and then covered dead bodies and started labelling them. When you cover dead bodies and start labeling them, who knows who you are covering?
“And then today, Daily Trust was saying it was because of what happened in Kurujenta, because Fulanis were killed in Kurujenta. Fulanis don’t live in Kurujenta.
“And so to say it was a reprisal for what happened in Kurujenta was a distortion of facts. We know that what happened was that some people came across the border of Plateau State and started attacking villages, because nobody within Plateau got to these villages and started attacking them.”
Meanwhile, the troubled Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State was thrown into confusion again, on Tuesday, as members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed in some parts of the area killed three people, leaving one of them with fatal injuries while trying to arrest some fleeing Fulani herdsmen.
This came as the Berom women, in their hundreds, on Tuesday, trooped to the streets to protest the attack on three villages in Jos South Local Government Area of the state on Sunday.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that some people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen were sighted at Kuru, within the vicinity of the Police Staff College, Jos, around 12 noon, on Tuesday and the people in the area quickly alerted members of the JTF to their presence.
As they were being chased, the Fulanis ran into the Police Staff College, leading into a serious commotion, especially between the police at the college and members of the JTF, who had gone to the college in two armoured personnel carriers and two Hilux trucks.
It was gathered that the soldiers tried to force their way into the college to effect the arrest of the fleeing Fulani men who entered through the fence, but the police insisted that they needed to take permission from their superiors before they could be allowed into the college.
An eyewitness disclosed that the soldiers, in an attempt to force their way into the college, shot into the air to scare people who had gathered and, in the process, shot dead three people while two others sustained injuries, including a military man.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that those felled by the stray bullets were immediately rushed to the Air Force Hospital, where they were confirmed dead, while the injured were admitted at the intensive care unit of the hospital.
When the Nigerian Tribune got to the hospital, a relation of one of the deceased was seen lamenting the death of her son, while none of the people on duty at the hospital was willing to comment on the incident.
Attempts to get official reaction to the development from the military authorities failed as those contacted said only the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Three Armoured Division, General Saleh Maina, could speak on the operation.
However, an officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dismissed insinuations of extra-judicial killings against the military men, saying their acts would always be dictated by circumstances.
The Berom women, in their hundreds, trooped to the streets of South Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, in black attires, carrying placards with different inscriptions, condemning the Sunday attack on three villages in the area by the Fulani herdsmen.
The leader of the women, Mrs Serah Dennis, called for the removal of General Maina, alleging that his men were not being professional the way they were carrying out their operation.
In a related development, a civil rights group, the League for Human Rights, has warned that the people were gradually losing confidence in the ability of the military to protect them over allegations of lopsidedness on the part of security personnel.
Speaking with journalists on Tuesday, the Director, Peter Shamaki, said people were also worried that the killings had continued despite the security alert in the state.
Also, the Lagos State governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has ruled out reprisal attacks on Muslims in Lagos and other parts of the state following the killing of over 400 women and children in Jos.
Fashola, while reacting to the later massacre in Jos, during a chat with journalists at the airport, said “I don’t think anybody should begin to talk about reprisal attack. We must continue to foster peace and understanding,” adding that security was a natiuon issue and not the individual component of the federation.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Lieutenant-General Abdullahi Gusau as the new National Security Adviser (NSA) has thrown top military brass and members of the kitchen cabinet of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua into confusion, following indications that more heads may roll soon.
Investigations revealed that members of the kitchen cabinet were initially confused when they learnt that Acting President Jonathan had removed the former NSA from office.
It was gathered that the former NSA was well rooted in the kitchen cabinet, having successfully coordinated the defence network around the ailing president for more than 100 days.
Apart from ensuring the secrecy around the ailing president, the former NSA was said to have ensured that necessary information did not filter to the office of the acting president, including information that some groups could strike in Jos.
It was gathered that the new NSA had the responsibility of reviewing the situation on the ground and recommending anyone who had compromised his position for appropriate punishment.
Sources in the government said the removal of the former NSA had sent jitters to all categories of security networks, with the top echelons awaiting the next line of action.
A source said the widespread fear was not restricted to the top echelons of the agencies, as some of the foot soldiers, who apparently orchestrated the recent political logjam, might also get appropriate punishment.
More facts emerged on Tuesday to justify the resolve of Acting President Jonathan to replace Major-General Mukhtar with Lieutenant-General Gusau.
It emerged on Tuesday that the choice of Gusau was targeted at achieving a manifold of results for the emerging government.
Sources said that the choice of Gusau came up in a twist as he was originally on the list of possible vice presidential hopefuls.
Sources said Gusau was considered as a buffer between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida.
The Senate, on Tuesday, also endorsed the replacement of the former NSA, saying in a resolution that it endorsed all decisions taken so far by the acting president.
The senators emerged from a closed session which lasted more than three hours and released a nine-point resolution.
But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Tuesday, faulted the appointment of Lieutenant-General Gusau, saying that government ought to have shopped for a more acceptable candidate for the exalted office.
The Christian body also called on the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators of killings of people believed to be Christians by Fulani herdsmen in Jos, on Sunday, be brought to book.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the General Secretary of CAN, Mr Samuel Salifu, said “it is clear that the crisis in Jos is purely religious, though it may have the undertone of culture, it may also have the undertone of politics.”
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