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The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has held Plateau State elders and elite culpable for stoking the incessant and repeated violent clashes and their escalation in the state.
This is coming as two soldiers have been sentenced by the General Court Martial (GCM) of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army sitting in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to 10 years in prison for abduction and extorting the sum of N1 million from a businessman.
The Head of the court,Brig. Gen. Olusegun Adesina while delivered his judgment, said the action of the errant soldiers was unlawful and against the ethics of armed forces
Buratai, who was represented by the Commander, Special Task Force (STF) code named Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), 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 revealed that the body language of the elite and elders, their actions and inactions, have emboldened the youths to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.
According to him, “OPSH effectively came into force on January 21, 2010 but the crisis on the Plateau State 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 revolve around total act of criminality by some unguided and irate youths mostly under the influence of hard substances.
“It is evident that these youths are supported by a section of the elites and elders bearing their inability to encourage them to eschew violence resulting in the absence of any tangible progress towards peace.
“The actions or inactions of the elders can be classified as one of the contributory sources that has rather emboldened the youths to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices. Human dignity has lost its value on the Plateau. The troops of OPSH like all service personnel are officially detailed to Plateau State to perform the duties upon which they swore on oath to serve the nation.”
Buratai said that in recent past, the mere presence of troops serves as a deterrent to the warring parties to toe the path of law and order, but unfortunately service personnel are increasingly becoming victims of internal strife and most often their success stories go unnoticed.
“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 sort-out vocation here in the Plateau.
“The DHQ Special Force (SF) Team was deployed to OPSH on June 25 2018 as a result of the growing insecurity and lawlessness in some communities of Barkin Ladi LGA in Plateau State. Indeed, their deployment in OPSH 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.
“This is why we are gathered here this morning to pay our tributes to these gallant heroes who died in the search for peace on the Plateau. It is with grief-stricken heart and profound sense of loss of these soldiers, who are fathers and husbands that I commiserate with the families over the tragic loss of our dear soldiers.
“The DHQ SF Team, OPSH and the Armed Forces of Nigeria have lost one of their fearless SF soldiers that exhibited courage and steadfastness even unto death and in the search for peace on the Plateau.
“Also yesterday at the OPSH headquarters, General Agundu disclosed, while parading 27 persons including two women allegedly arrested in connection with the recent violence in Jos.”
He said though 72 persons were arrested, after investigations, about 30 of them confessed to the crime, of which the 27 were paraded, warning that it would no longer tolerate any further attempt to attack the troops.
Agundu in his capacity as the commander of OPSH also condemned what he described as the conspiracy of silence among the elders and elite going on in the state. “But they keep quiet. If they want to stop this act of violence and criminality, they can do so within a twinkle of an eye.”
He also dismissed what he described as “media hype” about fake soldiers, saying there is no fake soldier going from door to door. “The dexterity my men exhibited was what marveled the criminals.”
He however, admitted that there were some criminals in black attires perpetrating violence that have been arrested as you can see them here, but they are not soldiers.
Meanwhile, two soldiers have been sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment by the General Court Martial (GCM) of the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army sitting in Maiduguri for abduction and extorting the sum of N1 million from a businessman.
The Head of the court, Brig. Gen. Olusegun Adesina while delivered his judgment said the actions of errant soldiers was unlawful and against the ethics of armed forces.
He said the duo standing trial on a three- count charge, abducted one Alhaji Hassan on November 19, 2017 at his residents in Ruwan Shanfi area of Maiduguri to unknown location, forcefully demanded and received the sum of N1 million from him after they threatened him that he was Boko Haram
The soldiers confessed that on the said date, they stormed the victim’s house with an Honda 1998 Model and dragged the victim out and forcefully took him to Railway Area of Maiduguri, where he was threatened and tagged as Boko Haram sponsor and asked to N3 million for his freedom.
However, the victim begged his abductors and paid N1 million.