Jul 16 2012
By Taye Obateru & Kingsley Omonobi
Jos – Commander of the Special Task Force, STF, maintaining security in Plateau State, Major General Henry Ayoola, has explained that the recent order to people in the troubled villages of Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas to relocate within 48 hours was in line with international convention guiding military operations and not targeted at any group.
He gave the clarification following speculations surrounding the ultimatum which some have interpreted as designed to displace certain people from their homes.
Ayoola told newsmen that contrary to the insinuations, asking civilians to evacuate an area where military operation is going to begin was in line with global practices and international law.
He said since full military operation was to commence in the affected areas which had been largely deserted, it was important to ask those remaining in the affected villages to move out because of the operations, for their safety.
He stressed that the order was not targeted at any particular group but in the best interest and safety of the people.
The STF had some days ago temporarily moved its operational base to the troubled area in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area in an apparent move to stem the tide of killings and invasion of villages by gunmen which had resulted in several deaths.
In a statement, weekend, it gave those still inhabiting the devastated villages like Mahanga, Kakuruk, Kuzen, Maseh and Song to vacate within 48 hours when the military operation is expected to begin.
The statement signed by STF’s Media Offficer, Captain Salisu, also advised residents of Kura Falls, Kuzuk and Sharuk, Rim of Gashish and Bachit Districts which are close to the affected villages to be careful of their movement in view of the military operation.
Air and land assault imminent
According to Vanguard sources, the military operation which will involve the use of Air Force helicopter gunships, artillery and infantry components of the Nigerian Army will see the Special Task Force operatives embarking on swift and precise attacks to dislodge the criminal elements.
According to a statement by the Defence Headquarters confirming the planned attack, entitled ‘Defence Headquarters Orders Raid on Criminal Hideouts in Plateau State’ and signed by Col. Mohammed Yerima, Director of Defence Information, DHQ, said: “The Special Task Force in Jos has found out that some of the criminals who carried out last week’s attack on innocent people are still hiding around some villages in order to continue to perpetrate crimes against the good people of Plateau State. The Task Force is determined to rid the state of these murderers.
“Having failed in their attempts to continue to instigate communal strife in Plateau State, criminal elements who are enemies of the people decided to wear military type uniforms and attack directly innocent citizens in some parts of the state.
“This direct attack was obviously decided upon when these criminals realised that their previous tactics of inciting one section of the populace against another is no longer working because the people of Plateau State have seen through the divisive technique of these ungodly people.
“The Defence Headquarters wishes to inform the villages where these criminal elements use as hideouts to vacate to a safer place where an arrangement is being made for them by the state government to avoid collateral damage.
“This temporary relocation is for a while and the villagers will relocate when the operation is completed. The villages affected are: Mahanga, Kakuruk, Kuzen, Maseh and Shong.
“Residents of Kura-falls, Kuzukand Sharuk, Rim of Gashish and Bachit districts respectively are enjoined not to panic and to be careful of their movement within the area and avoid places of military operations until further notice. People are also advised to report any suspicious movement/activities in their areas to security agencies.
“These are temporary measures put in place by the Defence Headquarters for the safety of the inhabitants of the affected areas. The residents should be rest assured that as soon as the operations are over, they will be called back to their residences. Inconveniences caused are highly regretted.”
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