President Buhari gets brief on killings in Plateau

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Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja.

Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, on Friday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the crisis in the state that left 12 persons dead and one injured in the early hours of Thursday.

Lalong said he was at the Presidential Villa to give the president a more detailed account of the incident, which occurred at Kulben village of Kombun District of Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State.

“My seeing the president was to brief him because usually there are briefings from the security and also briefings from the chief security officer direct from my own assessment of what has happened and all the efforts and also if there is other interventions he wants to do in the state so that it can also curtail the situation,” Lalong told State House correspondents who sought to know his mission.

Giving further account on the attack, Lalong said he got information early in the morning that there was violence in the local government and went there immediately and found out that after the first killings, there were also reprisals.

“When I got there everything stopped.  I spoke to the people and we buried the victims.  They understood with me and the place remained very calm and up till now, peace has been restored in that place,” he said.

Cattle rustlers attack

According to Governor Lalong, investigations into the incident showed that the attack was perpetrated by cattle rustlers who were prevented from stealing about 100 cows from the village.

He said the rustlers were already moving away with the stolen cows when the youths stopped them and retrieved the cows.

 “At the end of the day, they were able to rescue more than 100 hundred cows.  The cows are there now.  After the rescue, they could only arrest about three or four of the rustlers. 

“When they were arrested they took them to police station and went back to their various villages,” he stated.

According to Lalong, some of the cattle rustlers who escaped returned and attacked the villagers and killed some of them.

Lalong said security personnel responded to the attack and were able to stop the killings.

I must say the security personnel did very well because they were also there otherwise the level of casualties would have been much.

“Those people had heavy arms and the youths had no arms but they did their best.

“Two of them sacrificed their lives and the next thing before I got there was that the people were beginning to do reprisal attack because when you get reprisal attack, it means you are also attacking innocent people.

“So, by the time they got to reprisal attack, about three people were killed.

“So, it makes a total of about 13 people; we were able to address the people and the people understood and they are very calm.

“Life has gone back to normal but investigation is still going on and we put in heavy eyes on security around to follow and the get the culprits,” he said.

Community policing

Governor Lalong, who is also the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, said that governors in the north were planning to key into the community policing strategy of the federal government to check violent crises in the region.

He said this in response to a question as to whether the governors in North Central Nigeria would take a cue from their counterparts in the South West who, on Thursday, launched the Operation Amotekun to counter armed attacks in the zone.

He said: “I think we have taken a decision sometimes last year; when this issue came.

 “At one time, I met the president; and we told him what we are doing.

“We set up committees and the committees have worked very hard and you will realize, those of you were there knew that we started our meetings even from the North-West.

“We had a meeting in Kastina; we are going back to have another meeting in the North-Central.

“The situation in the south may not be the same in the North but in the North, we are also looking at some ways we will also address these issues.

“So, we have gone ahead to put in committees and those committees have done their work and we are now expecting to have a meeting to address the issue and look at ways of addressing these issues once and for all.

“Two, in the North, we have also agreed to key into community policing.

“At the level of the committee, they are already very far; each state is already putting itself very well in respect to community policing.

“The one in the south, I have not read the document; I cannot say clearly that I know details of that document; of what they mean by Amotekun.

“But I saw various vehicles that were bought but if it is vehicles, you will know that many states in the north bought vehicles.

“I have almost 100 vehicles which I gave to the police; but that is not what will address the insecurity in my state.

“So, it may vary from south to north but in the north, we are trying to look at a comprehensive attempt to also help in augmenting what the federal government is doing in respect to insecurity.”

Governor Lalong said the new challenges coming up in Plateau State like cattle rustling have reawakened him to the need to devise new security strategies in the state.

Lateefah Ibrahim