Plateau killings: CAN chairman shuns DHQ invitation, 10 corpses recovered

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The Nigerian Police Force on Thursday said it recovered no fewer than ten corpses in various locations in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State on Thursday.

This was as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, Rev Timothy Daluk, said he would not withdraw the allegations against troops on the crisis nor would he honour any invitation by the military.

The Chairman of the CAN, Rev Daluk, was invited by Defence Headquarters over his recent comment against the military on the killing in Magu.

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Recall armed men had on Wednesday morning launched a fresh attack in the state, killing no fewer than 30 victims in Kwahaslalek village in the Mangu LGA of the state. More than ten people were also killed in Mangu town and environs with several houses burnt by the attackers the same day.

Rev Daluk had accused the Nigerian military of supervising the killings of Christians and the destruction of properties in Mangu LGA.

In the viral video, Rev Daluk said, “I am here to report the situation happening in the Mangu Local Government for the whole world to understand. What is happening in Mangu at this particular point in time, the military are the ones sending our people away for the militia to burn their houses.

“At this particular point in time, they have sent every Christian away from the new market, thereby leaving the Muslims to come and burn their houses.”

The DHQ on Thursday said it would request to meet with the Chairman of the CAN in the Mangu LGA of Plateau State, Rev Timothy Daluk, over his comment against the military.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba said the DHQ was in the process of reaching out to the cleric to substantiate his allegations.

He said, “The DHQ is in the process of reaching out to him to come and substantiate the claims. It is not unusual for emotions to cloud people’s judgment when they have been confronted with very traumatising experiences.

“We would get to the bottom of his allegations after we have an audience with him. All the same, the military will continue to discharge its duties professionally and in line with best international standards, please.”

Similarly, the DHQ, in a statement, denied the allegations by the cleric, describing them as baseless and untrue.

The statement by the Director, of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Tukur Gusau, partly read, “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to a malicious video made by the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Mangu Chapter, Rev. Timothy Daluk.

“The video made baseless and untrue accusations, claiming that the military is biased and supports a particular group against others. We categorically state that these accusations hold no truth, are malicious and lack any reasonable foundation.”

He said troops of Operation Safe Haven were deployed after there was a breach of security in the Mangu LGA which resulted in the declaration of a 24-hour curfew.

CAN’s reaction

Reacting to the DHQ invitation the Christian Association of Nigeria on Thursday said it was ready to defend the claims that the military was aiding killings in the state.

In an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Thursday, the state chairman of CAN, Rev Polycarp Lubo said the association stands with the claim against the military made by the Mangu chairman regarding the killings.

Lubo said “As an association, we stand by him (Daluk). He is an adult and he is a leader in Mangu. He knows what he has seen and he said he has evidence. He has reasons why he has said so. So, we can not change what he has said “

Asked whether the CAN leader has been invited by the military to defend the allegation, Lubo said, “No invitation yet. But, we will stand by him”

Also, the Mangu CAN chairman, Rev Daluk said he would not withdraw the allegations against troops on the crisis.

He said, “We are not withdrawing our allegations. And I don’t see the reason to honour any invitation by the Defence Headquarters. They should be the ones to come down to Mangu and see for themselves. The evidence is there, graves are there.”

Taking about the allegations, he said, “Before my eye, a soldier shot dead one of my people. I called others and reported them they said the soldier was a fake troop. Whether fake or what they (the soldiers) are the ones responsible for differentiating.”

Daluk said the moment the situation was calm and if it should continue like this, his people would be law-abiding and would not cause any breakdown of the law.

10 corpses recovered

The Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 4, Ebong Eyibio speaking on Thursday while briefing journalists at the Police Command headquarters in Jos said nine suspects have also been arrested in connection with the violence.

According to the AIG, additional police personnel had also been deployed to the troubled LGA as part of efforts to contain the situation.

He said, ‘‘On 24/01/24 at about 2200hrs, we received intelligence concerning an attack which was targeted on the Ntam community and the ASTC Company, both of Mangu LGA. Our team of agile Police officers from the IGP Special Intervention Squad stationed at the ASTC in conjunction with Area Commander Pankshin and the DPO swung into action and thwarted the attempted attack.

“In a separate incident, an attempt by some criminal arsonists in Panyam District to set fire to some worship centres was prevented by swift intervention from the police and with help from some elders of the Community.

“Also in another development, to further strengthen the existing security architecture in Mangu LGA and ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by the government and prevent further escalation of the incidence which is almost snowballing into an ethno-religious crisis, I have ordered the deployment of additional Special Intervention personnel to Mangu LGA to be commended by the Area Commander, Pankshin, and restore normalcy in that area.

“The Command is grateful to inform you that the situation as of today, is under control and so far, Nine (9) suspects have been arrested. Exhibits recovered from them include dangerous weapons, such as machetes, kegs containing Petrol, and other items. The area remains highly secured by security forces and strict compliance to the curfew is being complied with.

“We called on the leadership of both faiths to call their followers to order and ensure total compliance with the government-imposed curfew. Both parties have promised to comply in the interest of peace in their communities. So far, over 10 corpses have been recovered from various locations, two injured persons currently receiving treatment at the hospital, and one car and 10 houses were burnt down.

“Before you are the eight (8) suspects from the December 24th 2023 attack and the nine (9) suspects arrested in connection with the recent attacks in the state.’’

Meanwhile, Plateau State Governor, Barrister Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang strongly denounced the recent security breach in the Kwahaslalek community and various parts of the Mangu Local Government Area.

Expressing profound sorrow in a statement in Jos in a statement on Wednesday by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Gyang Bere, Governor Mutfwang decried the escalating security challenges that resulted in the destruction of homes and livelihoods, by suspected hoodlums.

In a stern warning, Governor Mutfwang asserted that his administration would not tolerate any further breakdown of law and order in any part of the state. He urged security agencies to intensify their efforts to guarantee absolute peace across the state.

Speaker Abbas meets Tinubu over Plateau killings

Disturbed by the worsening state of security in Plateau State, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas is set to meet with President Bola Tinubu with a view to finding measures to secure the lives and property of the people.

This is just as the Speaker also condemned in strongest terms, the recurring attacks in the North Central State, describing them as unacceptable.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Musa Krishi, on Thursday, the Speaker called for a renewed effort in the fight against criminality in the Plateau.

Krishi’s statement read in part, ‘‘Speaker Abbas said he would meet with President Tinubu on the matter, while the House would take a strong position upon its resumption from the Christmas and New Year break on Tuesday, next week.”

The statement also quoted Abbas as saying that on the resumption of the lawmakers on January 30, 2024, “The House would kick-start plans to organise a security summit to find lasting solutions to the security challenges in the North and other parts of the country.

“I am deeply saddened by the continuous killings in Plateau State. It is unfortunate and disheartening that this is happening at this time when efforts are on to tackle insecurity around the country.

“I call on the people of Plateau State to live in peace with one another as they were known for years back. We cannot continue like this as a people.

Atiku saddened

Similarly the 2023 Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, said he was ‘deeply saddened by the violence and killings in the Mangu’.

Atiku said, “… This heinous act of violence, where innocent lives are being brutally snatched away, homes set ablaze, and communities thrown into chaos, is a direct affront to the values of peace and unity that we hold dear.

“It is imperative that our security agencies exhibit a higher degree of proactiveness, particularly in light of the recurring incidents of banditry in Plateau and across various parts of the country. The apparent lack of anticipation and preventive measures against such crises is a matter of grave concern. It is high time that our security forces rise to the occasion, ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens.

“Even as I call for peace, I stand in solidarity with the victims and their families during this difficult time. Let us all come together to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated.”