The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has alleged that Plateau elders and elite are culpable for stoking the incessant and repeated violent clashes and their escalation in the state.
He revealed that the body language of the elders, their actions and inactions had emboldened the youths to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.
The COAS , who was represented by the Commander, Special Task Force (STF) code-named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in charge of security in Plateau, Bauchi and some parts of southern Kaduna, Major-General Augustine Agundu ,stated this at the burial ceremony of the three soldiers that were recently killed in Barkin Ladi area of the state on September 6, 2018.
He said, “OPSH effectively came into force on 21 January, 2010 but the crises on the Plateau has lingered prior to the establishment of the operation in 2000/2001 with vulnerable persons bearing the brunt of the crises. In recent times, the bane of the crises has revolved around the total act of criminality by some misguided and irate youths mostly under the influence of hard substances.
“It is evident that these youths are supported by a section of the elite/elders bearing in mind their inability to encourage them to eschew violence, resulting in the absence of any tangible progress towards peace.”
He further stressed that the actions or inactions of the elders can be classified as one of the contributory sources that has rather emboldened the youths to attack innocent passers-by at will, adding that human dignity has lost its value on the Plateau.
Buratai said that in recent past, the mere presence of troops served as a deterrent to the warring parties to toe the path of law and order, but that unfortunately, service personnel are increasingly becoming victims of internal strife.
“It is evident that there exist armed ethnic militia groups sponsored or supported by some elite and elders who deploy the misguided youths into committing the worst of heinous crimes. There is certainly no constitutional provision that allows civilians to bear fire arms but their possession has become a well known sought-after vocation here in the Plateau,” he noted.
According to the army chief, the OPSH was deployed on 25 June 2018 as a result of the growing insecurity and lawlessness in some communities of Barkin Ladi LGA in Plateau State, adding that their deployment in OPSH had greatly assisted in bringing normalcy to the area as well as creating an enabling environment for people to go about their normal lives.
He said the avoidable incident of September 6, 2018 led to the death of the gallant soldiers who battled the armed militias in order to save the communities that were under attack.
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