The District Head of Vwang in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, Da Gyang Balak Gut, has been abducted by yet to be identified gunmen.
Mr Gut, who is the Da Gwom Rwei of Vwang, was reportedly accosted by armed men on Sunday night while returning home in Vom, a few metres to the entrance of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
He was subsequently taken away to an unknown destination and no one has caught wind of who the attackers were and if they would be making demands as has become in practice in recent times.
The spokesman for the Plateau State Police Command, Gabriel Ubah, while confirming the incident, stated that the Commissioner of Police, Bartholomew Onyeka, and senior police officers have visited the scene and mobilised security personnel to trail the abductors with instructions to rescue the paramount ruler unhurt.
Vwang district in Jos South Local Government hosts the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), as well as the College of Soil Science Technology among others.
The abduction of the Gwom Rwei is coming barely a month after the kidnapping of another traditional ruler in the state, Charles Mato Dakat.
However, Dakat, who is the paramount ruler of Gindir in Mangu Local Government Area was released five days after his abduction.
His abductors had made contact with the family members a few days after they kidnapped him, and demanded the sum of N500 million ransom before they could release the monarch.
It is, however, not clear if the transaction was made; it is also unclear what role the security operatives played in the release of the traditional ruler.
The Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has directed the total lifting of the curfew in Jos North, Jos South, and Bassa local government areas.
Governor Lalong gave the new directive after a State Security Council Meeting which was held at the Government House in Jos.
His order came after the council reviewed the security situation in the affected local government areas and the state in general.
On the strength of deliberations at the meeting and the advice of the security council, the governor directed that the curfew be lifted with effect from Friday 17th December 2021 until further notice.
He directed that in place of the curfew, the relevant security agencies should mount well-coordinated and round-the-clock checks in strategic areas of the state to ensure the safety of lives and properties of the people during the Yuletide season.
He advised the security agencies to ensure that they deploy security personnel across the state and gather requisite intelligence to thwart any attempt by criminals who might want to perpetuate their nefarious activities during the season and cause a breach of the peace.
Meanwhile, the total ban on motorcycles within the Jos-Bukuru metropolis is still in force while their operations in other local government areas will stop at 8 pm.
Tricycles within the metropolis will continue to operate on the existing template of 6 am to 6 pm only.
While commending the citizens for their patience, understanding, and cooperation during the period of the curfew, Lalong urged them to be security-conscious and highly vigilant against any suspected criminal activity in their domains, which should be reported quickly to security agencies to enable them to take swift action.
He also praised the security agencies for their sacrifices and patriotic service, urging them to continue to do more as the government will do its best to support them in carrying out their mandate of securing lives and properties.
Earlier in September, the government imposed a curfew from 10 pm to 6 am as part of efforts to curb the insecurity witnessed within the area some months ago.
Meanwhile, Governor Simon Lalong has condemned the attack on the village, saying the criminals are bent on instilling fear, pain and sorrow on the people with a view to destabilising the state and making fortune from their criminality as well as rupturing the substantial peace attained.
According to a statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Governor, Simon Makut, security agencies have been directed to deploy personnel and everything at their disposal to arrest those who carried out the attack no matter how long it takes.
The Plateau State government has announced a further relaxation of curfew in Jos North Local Government Area.
A statement by the governor’s spokesman, Dr Makut Macham, revealed that the government has also lifted the ban earlier placed on operations of tricycle, commonly referred to as Keke, in the state.
Governor Simon Lalong, Macham hinted, gave the approval on Tuesday following a meeting of the State Security Council held at the new Government House in Jos.
“Beginning from Wednesday, 8th September 2021, the curfew in Jos North will be enforced from 10pm to 6am,” the statement said. “This will tally with the current status of the curfew in Jos South and Bassa Local Government Areas which still remains from 10pm to 6am.
“Similarly, Governor Lalong also approved that beginning from Wednesday, 8th September 2021, the ban placed on operations of tricycles will be lifted from 6am to 6pm daily. This means that no tricycle will be allowed to operate between the hours of 6pm to 6am.”
The governor, however, stated that the ban on motorcycles within the Jos/Bukuru metropolis remained in place, saying enforcement would continue to ensure that violators were arrested and punished according to the law.
According to him, the government is working on innovations, legislations, and enforcement modules to enhance the security, effectiveness, and availability of public transportation in the state.
Governor Lalong explained that the modules would be unveiled in due course.
They are expected to address the major concerns of the citizens, particularly as it relates to the safety of passengers.
The governor praised the citizens for cooperation and understanding of the citizens during the period of the attacks and subsequent curfews.
He urged them to continue to support the government in restoring normalcy to enable the state to resume the normal trajectory of hospitality, opportunity, and productivity.
“Governor Lalong also thanks all stakeholders within and outside the state for their concerns and goodwill towards addressing the recent ugly developments, assuring that his administration will continue to pursue the path of peaceful coexistence while dealing with criminals and crises merchants who are bent on tarnishing the enviable image of the state,” the statement added.
The Governor noted that the ban on tricycles (Keke Napep) and hawkers remains in place within Jos/Bukuru metropolis.
Also, he announced that the Plateau Economic and Investment Summit earlier scheduled for September 1 and 2 has been postponed.
“A new date will be announced and communicated to all our invitees,” the Governor said. “We apologise for any inconveniences this postponement might cause.”
Recent attacks in Jos North, Bassa, Riyom, and Barkin Ladi have plunged Plateau into a state of high tension.
About 36 people were killed last week in Yelwa Zangam village, Zangam District in Jos North Local Government Area.
Many state governments have transported their indigenes from Jos metropolis and the University of Jos has been shut down.
While some have attributed the killings to ethnic and religious reasons, the state government has maintained they are “purely criminal activities that must be treated as such.”
“Even though they are quickly given ethno-religious connotations, there is no justification for the killing of anyone human being,” Lalong said on Monday.
“We are a society that is guided by rules which do not permit anyone to take the laws into his or her hands no matter the grievances.”
To resolve the security crisis, Lalong said he has engaged with high level stakeholders, including traditional, political, community and religious leaders.
“It is important to state that we have had several engagements with them in the past and made efforts to ensure that peace prevails in the area,” the Governor said.
“Between January and July this year, the Plateau Peace Building Agency has conducted over 34 mediation engagements at community levels in Miango, Kwall, Dusten Kura, and Gyelobari Districts of Bassa LGA.
“In response to the attacks, I also held meetings with the Plateau Inter-Religious Council and directed them, along with the Peace Building Agency to swing into action by carrying out more consultations and engagements to defuse tensions, calm nerves and dig deep into the immediate and remote causes of these conflicts with a view to bringing the ugly situation to an end.”
Read the full text of Lalong’s Monday broadcast:
TEXT OF A STATE BROADCAST BY H.E. RT. HON. (DR) SIMON BAKO LALONG, KSGG, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE ON THE SECURITY SITUATION, 30TH AUGUST 2021. Protocols 1. My dear citizens of Plateau State, it is with a heavy heart that I address you today over the security situation in Plateau State. Events of the recent past have cast a dark shadow on the progress and huge investments we have made in peace building and crime fighting within the last six years. 2. Due to recent attacks in Jos North, Bassa, Riyom, and Barkin Ladi we have witnessed the unfortunate disruption to the peace and security of the State by criminal elements leading to loss of innocent lives, properties, farm crops and livestock. 3. Despite the directive to security agencies to stop the attacks, arrest perpetrators and bring them to justice, these attacks continued with the incident in Rukuba Road where commuters were attacked leading to other deaths and destruction. The ugly situation again resurfaced in Yelwa Zangam village of Jos North Local Government where many people were again killed and properties destroyed. 4. While arrests have been made in most of these incidents, the constant threat to lives and properties necessitated the imposition of curfew on Jos North, Bassa and Jos South Local Government Areas to enable security agencies properly deploy to handle the situation and stop further breakdown of law and order. 5. At this point, I wish to commiserate with the entire citizens of the State over these sad developments. I particularly extend my deep condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones, as well as those who sustained injuries and lost properties during the carnage. I have directed that Government pays the medical bills of those who are receiving treatment in various health facilities. 6. As a result of these occurrences, I convened a high level stakeholders meeting where traditional, political, community and religious leaders gathered to brainstorm on how to bring an end to this cycle of violence. Thereafter, I held separate meetings with leaders of Irigwe Land as well as Fulani Community to further engage them on lasting solutions to the protracted conflict within the area. 7. 8. It is important to state that we have had several engagements with them in the past and made efforts to ensure that peace prevails in the area. Between January and July this year, the Plateau Peace Building Agency has conducted over 34 mediation engagements at community levels in Miango, Kwall, Dusten Kura, and Gyelobari Districts of Bassa LGA.
8. In response to the attacks, I also held meetings with the Plateau Inter-Religious Council and directed them, along with the Peace Building Agency to swing into action by carrying out more consultations and engagements to defuse tensions, calm nerves and dig deep into the immediate and remote causes of these conflicts with a view to bringing the ugly situation to an end. 9. From the engagements so far, it has again become clear that all these attacks are purely criminal activities that must be treated as such. Even though they are quickly given ethno-religious connotations, there is no justification for the killing of anyone human being. We are a society that is guided by rules which do not permit anyone to take the laws into his or her hands no matter the grievances. 10. Yesterday I visited Yelwa Zangam village of Jos North Local Government to see things for myself and commiserate with the families of those affected, as well as reassure them that Government will stop at nothing to apprehend other fleeing suspects behind the attacks. We are determined to ensure diligent investigation and prosecution to give them justice. 11. To forestall further occurrences, I visited and met with the President in Abuja to seek for more deployment of security forces and equipment to enhance the capacity of our law enforcement agencies to protect our people. I received assurances from the President that the request will be acted upon immediately. 12. Arising from my discussion with Mr. President, I had a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development as well as the DG of the National Emergency Management Agency regarding humanitarian assistance to the victims of the various attacks. I received commitment that very soon, relief materials will be delivered to us. 13. Already, the State Government has procured relief materials which are being distributed to the victims in various locations. On Friday, the Peace Building Agency also delivered relief materials donated by USAID to displaced communities in Bassa. We shall continue to partner with more humanitarian organisations towards alleviating the suffering of the victims. 14. My dear citizens, our long term goal is to foster dialogue, collaboration, understanding and proactive dispute resolution mechanisms that will make it difficult for people to resort to criminality in the name of self-help and reprisals whenever there is any disagreement. Those who fail to follow lawful means to settle their grievances should be ready for a showdown with Government as we will never tolerate killings and destruction of properties under any guise. 15. During these trying times, I have watched with great disappointment the unfortunate comments and utterances of some citizens including religious, political and community leaders from within and outside the State who rather than calm nerves and join hands with the Government to ensure the quick restoration of peace, resorted to pushing out ethno-religious sentiments that further created tensions. 16. Some sections of the mainstream and social media also chose to play to the gallery and fanned the embers of hatred and disunity.
17. However, majority of media platforms performed their duties diligently and highlighted Government’s efforts in discharging its constitutional obligation of ensuring the safety of lives and property. 18. I must commend people of conscience across different faiths, ethnic and political backgrounds that have remained objective, dispassionate and resolute towards condemning the criminal actions of the attackers and offering useful suggestions to Government on ways to improve public safety. 19. I wish to thank friends of Plateau State from far and near who sent words of encouragement and played various roles in calming nerves as well as refuting false narratives about the wrong perceptions and exaggeration of the situation. 20. Specifically, I wish to thank the Governor of Kebbi State His Excellency Atiku Abubakar Bagudu who led a delegation of the Progressives Governors Forum to condole the State and make donations to victims. At the same time, he demonstrated exemplary solidarity by declining to join the panic rush of evacuating students from the University of Jos by some State Governments. His approach of confidence building and collaboration affirms the fact that Plateau State still remains a home to all. 21. Let me therefore use this opportunity to assure parents of students studying at the University of Jos that we are working with the University authorities to ensure the safety of their wards as soon as the school reconvenes. In the same vein, I have assured the management of the NYSC that the Government will partner with them to guarantee the safety of Corps members posted to the State. 22. After my visit to Yelwa Zangam village, I took a tour of the Jos metropolis to see things for myself. I also engaged the security agencies to review the general security situation in the three Local Government Areas where the curfew was imposed, as well as other parts of the State. At the end of the review, Government took the following decisions: i. The curfew in Jos North is to be relaxed. Beginning from Monday 30th August 2021, the curfew shall be enforced from 6pm to 6am until further notice.
ii. The curfew in Jos South and Bassa is to also be further relaxed. As from Monday 30th August 2021, the curfew shall be enforced between 10pm to 6am until further notice. iii. The Ban on Tricycles (Keke NAPEP) and hawkers remains in force within Jos/Bukuru metropolis. iv. The Plateau Economic and Investment Summit earlier scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of September 2021 has been postponed. A new date will be announced and communicated to all our invitees. We apologise for any inconveniences this postponement might cause.
23. Fellow citizens of Plateau State, we are facing a very difficult moment and we must work together to overcome. There is an obvious plan by those who desire to see Plateau in perpetual crises to employ all divisive methods to achieve their objectives. We must not allow them to use politics, religion, and ethnicity to divert our attention from their criminal activities. 24. My determination as your Governor is to ensure that I encourage all citizens to embrace one another and use peaceful means to settle any disagreement. I shall continue to ensure that we build the capacities of our security agencies including the Operation Rainbow, the newly trained three thousand vigilantes, as well as our traditional institutions to be able to respond promptly and effectively to criminals so that we can enjoy peace and tranquility. 25. Finally, I call on all citizens of Plateau State to work in synergy and promote the long standing ideals of accommodation, tolerance, love, hardwork godliness and forgiveness which we are known for. Plateau State remains the Home of Peace and Tourism. 26. God bless Plateau State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSGG Executive Governor, Plateau State, 30th August 2021.
Wading into the situation, President Buhari said it is time for the people to unite against horrific attacks.
According to him, “Retributive violence is not the answer”.
While assuring all citizens that as a government, the administration is on top of events and is moving ahead with force to crush the perpetrators of the recent incidents of unrest, the Commander-In-Chief warned that the people must shun rhetoric aimed at increasing tension.
‘Beware of the single-story’
“Our religious, traditional and other community leaders must not allow the use of their spaces for the propagation of violence and incitement to violence.
“Attempts to simplify the reasons into a basic narrative may help raise donor-dollars for international NGOs, fill pages of overseas newspapers, and burnish foreign politicians’ faith credentials; but this does not increase understanding, nor offer solutions. If anything, simplistic theorizing and finger-pointing make the situation worse.
“It is important both for Nigerians and the international community to appreciate that there are a multitude of factors attendant to these troubles.
“There is the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism, as well as the spate of kidnappings for ransom, transformed by some misinformed global media into a Muslim-on-Christian threat. Yet, in reality, there are no religious connotations at all when the primary purpose of these acts is to extract money.
“Then the herder-farmer clashes. While international voices and some Nigerian politicians who seek personal gain from division declare this a matter of religion, for those involved, it is almost entirely a matter of access to water and land. Herders have moved their cattle into contact with farmers for millennia. But, increasingly, due to population pressure, escalating aridity of northern states, and climate change, they are forced to travel further south to find grazing lands.
“Then, further afield in the South-east, IPOB are not struggling for freedom when they attack police stations and property, but rather committing acts of terrorism in order to steal money. IPOB is not defending Christians – as their highly-paid foreign lobbyists claim – when almost every citizen of those states they terrorize is uniformly Christian. Yet mistakenly, and because the lobbyists for IPOB have duped them, some misguided foreign media and politicians believe so,” the President explained.
He added that as for Nigerians, what needs be done is to come together and cast asunder those who seek to divide the nation for their own nefarious financial and political gain.
Several persons were feared killed with many others injured after suspected herdsmen attacked Yelwa Zangam village, Zangam District in Jos North Local Government Area, Plateau State.
The attack which occurred on Tuesday night also left several houses burnt.
While there’s yet to be any official statement from security agencies, Channels Television observed on visiting the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, that there were no fewer than 16 corpses at the morgue while those injured were receiving treatment.
According to some sources, apart from the corpses that were moved to the morgue, there were many other casualties yet to be evacuated from the burnt houses.
This comes just days after the State Governor, Simon Lalong had imposed a curfew on Jos North, Bassa and Jos South Local Government areas following an attack on Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government Area.
Twenty-three people – who were travelling from Bauchi en-route Jos to Ikare in Ondo State – were killed in the incident while 23 others were injured during the attack.
The Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven has ordered troops to stop members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) from protesting in any part of Plateau State.
The order was contained in a statement signed by the Military Information Officer, Major Ishaku Takwa.
“Operation Safe Haven, the joint security task force maintaining law and order in Plateau State and parts of Bauchi and Southern Kaduna has ordered troops to ensure that the planned protest by members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) or any other group does not take place in any part of Plateau State until full security is guaranteed,” the statement partly reads.
IMN had planned a nationwide protest over the health challenges of its leader Ibrahim El-Zakazky, and members of the outlawed group in Plateau scheduled their march for Friday.
However, the joint security task force said intelligence reports indicate that the planned protest will breach security in the state.
According to Major Takwa’s communique, the protest could be hijacked by hoodlums and miscreants thereby causing mayhem within the Jos metropolis.
The Force called on members of the IMN to shelve their planned protest as the operation is committed to the total restoration of peace in Plateau.
The military also said it is working with the state government, critical stakeholders such as traditional and religious leaders, and the citizens to achieve the mandate.
Plateau has been relatively peaceful until recently when brazen attacks forced a sphere of apprehension in the state, prompting Governor Simon Lalong to impose a curfew on three local government areas.
Over 112 Killed In Kaduna And Plateau
The recent killings in Plateau stirred great concerns not just across the country, but within the international community, even as Amnesty International revealed in a report that it has been monitoring the violence in the state.
According to Amnesty’s report, at least 112 people have been killed and about 160 kidnapped following bloody assaults in Kaduna and Plateau States within the last one month.
The rights organisation in its communique inferred that the authorities’ failure enabled a month of bloodbath within the two states.
While 78 people were killed and 160 abducted by bandits between July 3 and August 5 in Kaduna State, including 121 schoolchildren of Bethel Baptist Church High School, 34 persons lost their lives in Plateau State.
This included seven herders who were attacked on July 1 at Dogon Gaba and two others who were lynched at Fusa Village while trying to locate their missing cow.
Villagers from farming communities informed Amnesty International that innocent people and communities that know nothing about the attacks are sometimes targeted for reprisal.
Re-emphasising that the slow and ineffective response by security officials has contributed to the attacks and reprisals in Plateau, the agency urged the Nigerian government to ensure that proactive measures were taken to forestall future attacks.
It also called on the government to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators.
Police Arrest 13 More Suspects
In a bid to restore calm and rekindle confidence, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) swung into action after the latest incident in which 25 persons were confirmed killed and 23 injured along Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The police on Monday arrested thirteen suspects, while the Head of the Police Intervention Team (PIT), DIG Sanusi Lemu, continued coordinating police investigative, operational, and peace-building responses.
Force spokesman, CP Frank Mba who disclosed this in a statement, said the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, has ordered the deployment of additional operational assets in the state as part of ongoing coordinated efforts at restoring public order in Rukuba and its environs.
A police surveillance helicopter, two units of Police Mobile Force (PMF), and two cells of Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) were also among the assets deployed to Plateau State by the police chief.
The surveillance helicopter, manned by operatives of Nigeria Police Airwing, is expected to carry out aerial surveillance and confidence-boosting patrols within the hotspots, in coordinated operations with the ground troops.
IGP Usman assured the people of Plateau that the police remained committed to working with other patriotic stakeholders towards restoring public order in the state and other parts of the country.
Twenty-Five persons were confirmed killed and 23 injured along Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau state on Saturday morning.
The victims were attacked while travelling from Bauchi en-route Jos to Ikare in Ondo state.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has reacted to the incident in a statement signed by spokesperson Simon Makut.
The Governor condemned the attack and warned troublemakers bent on fomenting trouble in the state to desist as the government will not allow any form of lawlessness to disrupt the peace of the state.
The Governor said that attacks on innocent citizens, no their matter their background, will never be tolerated in the State and those who are found to be behind such attacks will be dealt with decisively to serve as deterrent and restore public order.
The statement added that the Governor has also directed security agencies to swiftly identify and arrest perpetrators.
The spokesperson of Operation Safe Haven, a military task force set up to maintain peace in Plateau State, Major Ishaku Takwa, said 12 persons have been arrested in connection with the incident, while normalcy has been restored in the area.
Troops of Operation Safe Haven have arrested and paraded suspected kidnappers in an attempt to abduct a resident of Lishin village in Jengere Pengana chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Parading the suspects at the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven in Jos, commander of the operation, Major General Dominic Onyemulu states that a distress call by residents of the community was responded to by troops within the area of operation and with the assistance of members of the community the kidnappers were apprehended.
17 suspects belonging to the gang were arrested by the troops.
The suspects include 11 from kaduna state, four from Bauchi, one from Kano, and another from Plateau.
Items recovered from the suspects include dangerous weapons ranging from fabricated rifle, two live cartridges, cutlasses, daggers as well as cell phones, assorted charms, and motorcycles for the operation.
Similarly, a gang of armed robbery syndicates specialised in dispossesing passengers boarding tricycles was arrested during an operation in the Lamingo area of Jos North Local Government Area of the state.