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Community policing will enhance peace in Plateau — HRH Miskoom Martin Muduutrie Shaldas III

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Shaldas

On March 8, 2018, President Buhari had a town hall meeting with all stakeholders in Plateau State.

His Royal Highness Miskoom Martin Muduutrie Shaldas III, the 31st king of Shendamland in Plateau State, was one of the first-class traditional rulers that attended the event. Palace Watch had an interview with him.

What happened at the town hall meeting with the president?

For us the traditional rulers, we thank the Almighty for giving us the ability to talk to our people. We also thank Him that our people trusted us enough to believe what we told them, which was to continue maintaining peaceful co-existence, no matter the level of provocation.

Today, we are our brothers’ keepers.

The Inspector-General of Police, who is now agitating for community policing has fortunately found a partner in traditional rulers in Plateau State.

We are very much on ground, and we strongly believe that when the community policing comes into effect, it will enable us to be more useful to our communities and the country. With Community police, we as traditional rulers will be able to make enormous contributions for peace in our communities.

You are in a position to appreciate the type of Nigeria we had in the early and late 70s. All these insurgencies were non-existent then, because in most native authorities or local council or administration, there were chiefs-in-council and the traditional rulers were in charge.

With such an effective structure in place, there is no way a stranger will enter into any community without the chief or traditional ruler getting to know.

It was extremely difficult for any stranger to just come to town and get some collaborators to assist him/her in fomenting problems in a community. Such a person will be immediately fished out and dealt with.

Sadly today, everything about our lives has been politicised, including religion, which is supposed to be an individual’s personal faith. This has now become a problem.

So, what was the message Mr. President came with?

The message was simple: That we should continue to live in peace and for us to join hands with him to move the country forward. He pleaded with us and our people to continue shunning violence, as it does nobody any good. He urged all to generate love instead of hate.

The president expressed surprise that a lot has been done in the area of infrastructural development by the state government. He said he expected more of such works. The president was talking from personal experience, as he was once a General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Rukubah Barracks, here in Jos.

He was also pleased that peace was being maintained and deliberate efforts are being made to develop the state. He gave assurance that he will assist the people, where resources permit. We are more than ever ready and resolved to back Mr. President towards fulfilling the promise he made during his visit.

On the issue of community policing, some people see it as an attempt by the APC government to curry the favour of voters so as to win 2019 elections. They are of the opinion that without first restructuring the country, it will be dangerous to have effective community policing…

People are free to hold whatsoever opinion pleases them in matters like this. My personal experience about politics and Nigerian politicians shows that no matter how well-meaning any government policy might be, politicians in opposing camps will always look for the slightest opportunity to scuttle such move or intention, once it is not in their favour.

They will never allow the ruling party to score any goal, if such will be to their disadvantage. This is part of the problems we have in this country, why things don’t go well as expected.

In those days when we had state police, weren’t there political parties in Nigeria? Then, we had NPC, NEPU, AG and NCNC, among others. Our personal experience in Plateau here is the reason we are joining the agitation for state police.

When there are problems in communities across the state and all the culprits are arrested, once the Nigeria Police says they would be transferring such persons to Abuja, just consider the matter dead.

It was not APC government that was in power then. All the insurgences and the numerous crises we had in Plateau State then, was APC in government then? So what are they talking about?

Even at the local government level, if we have small matters involving locals, once you make such report to the Nigeria Police here and they tell you they will be taking it to Police Headquarters in Jos, just consider the matter closed.

This happens even in cases of murder, which the Police is not expected to toy with. Unfortunately, some of these cases are already in court, otherwise I would have listed them.

It is painful and it hurts so badly, when someone deliberately kills another, and the victim’s parents and other relatives will still be seeing the killer, I mean the suspect, moving about freely without any punishment.

He might not even be kept in detention for one day, if he knows his ways and has all the resources to go about it. What the police will end up telling you is: “we gave the suspect an administrative bail.” What is administrative bail, if I may ask?

Honestly, traditional rulers need constitutional powers now more than ever. Any person who has authority without requisite powers can never perform. And that precisely is the experience we as traditional rulers are facing presently.

I am referring to all political parties in Nigeria now. For example, today when there is an election, the states controlled by any of the political parties will win all the positions in that state.

It has never been like this before now, especially when traditional rulers were in control, because no matter what politicians do, we as traditional rulers will ensure equity prevails in all matters.

For example, in my chiefdom, we not only believe in fairness, justice and equity, but we also strongly believe in purity in all that we do. If you do things that are not expected of you, you can never go into our shrines.

Although in spite of all that, we will still have bad eggs, especially among our politicians, but believe me, if given the powers we want, we can curb these politicians and stop their antics.

This is the plain truth.

But even with the community policing you are advocating, won’t there still be police antics, since it is the Nigeria Police that will train most of the people that will make up the structure?

If I were allowed to be in charge of all activities in my domain, and people know I have all the powers to punish those that are not law-abiding, there will be discipline and restraint. They wouldn’t dare attempt to commit any infraction in and around here. And that is the simple truth.

As the head of family, once you lay down the rules in your house, who will be the person(s) that will come from outside to set your children against you in your house? That is exactly what it is.

But once politicians and other troublemakers in our domains know you don’t have the powers to punish them, they will never abide by whatever rules you try to make for good governance.

This is because by the time the whole matter gets to the table of the powers that be, maybe in Abuja, the whole thing would have been diluted and watered down.

Politics would be brought in to further complicate matters. This is why we are asking that constitutional powers be given to traditional rulers across the country. Once this is done, there will be sanity in most communities across the country.

What would you say encourages corruption in the Plateau? Almost all past state governors of have been accused of massive looting…

Corrupt practices are not limited to Plateau State alone. But past governments tended to take undue advantage of our people because they know they are forgiving. I hope one day our people will wake up from their slumber and begin to ask that the proper thing be done by those people they elect to govern us.

As we can see now, most corrupt politicians are daily using the social media to fight back. They are into all manner of propaganda. They are using these avenues to create confusion in the land. Because of lack of what to do, most people, especially the youths have become very gullible. They are easily manipulated, which is quite sad.

Does it not beat your imagination that some of these youths are given as little as N5, 000 to kill another person? These are the pains of our present day society.

Similarly, when some people are given as little as N500, they will begin to fly all types of rumour. I am here on the throne; we see all manner of things daily.

Did the president make any demand on traditional rulers in the state?

Yes, he did. He asked us to try as much as possible to be in constant touch with our people, in order to feel their pulse and direct them to do positive things at all times, especially in the agricultural sector, where Plateau State has comparative advantage.

He urged us to make it easy for people to acquire land for agricultural purposes. We also thank God that the state government in synergy with private investors has brought in about 500 or 600 tractors for farming.

The tractors will be distributed to the 17 local governments in the state for effective farming. This will be subsidised to the tune of 40 per cent, which is quite encouraging.

When all being done now comes into fruition, it will reduce idleness among our youths and bring about positive turnaround in the economy, and the way we see and do things.


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