Lalong pledges to empower youths who surrender arms
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has promised that the youths who voluntarily gave up small arms in Lantang North and Langtang South councils recently will be empowered. Lalong disclosed this at the weekend during the community-driven arms recovery and rehabilitation pilot programme at Langtang North Council secretariat.
The dane guns, pistols, revolvers, live ammunition and explosives that were recovered were dropped by the youths and handed over to the governor, who officially transferred them to Commander, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Maj-Gen. Augustine Agundu, at the event.The governor said that the gains recorded during the exercise would be easily eroded, if economic re-integration did not follow immediately towards empowering the vulnerable youths.
He congratulated the youths for laying down the arms, noting that most criminal activities and crises in the state were directly linked to illegal possession of arms. Gen. Agundu had earlier disclosed that there were pockets of armed militias in the state who had continued to hamper peace-building initiatives for more than 20 years.
The initiator of the event and chairman of Langtang North, Laven Ubandoma, explained that the arms were initially retrieved from armed groups who attacked the people. To ensure a crisis-free society, Ubandoma said he facilitated the recovery of over 1,000 small arms and light weapons within the Tarok ethnic nationality of Plateau.
The council boss, who presented the recovered weapons on Thursday to Governor Lalong for onward delivery to the army, said peace had returned to Langtang after 20 years of upheavals. He described Lalong as a true democrat and peace-lover who set in motion reconciliatory mechanism for the return of enduring peace in the state.
“The people of Tarok nation in Langtang North, Langtang South and Kadarko in Wase councils of Plateau have suffered untold violence which culminated in the death of many of our people since 2000.“That time, I was still doing my National Diploma. We didn’t understand what was really happening and the violence continued for a very long time. We later understood those who were killing our people and the issues were resolved.
“When I was sworn in to office, the military came to mopd up arms in Langtang and I said they should leave that task to me, that we would deploy military-civil approach. We set up a committee saddled with that responsibility and we were able to recover these weapons that were voluntarily relinquished by the youths,” Lalong said.
Chairman, Committee on recovery of small arms and light weapons within the Tarok nationality, HRH Daniel Bongtur, said the effort of the committee was earlier resisted by uninformed elite and youths, who were were later educated on the imperative of the exercise.
The Madaki Langtang said: “The small arms and light weapons recovered from the populace includes anti-tank gun, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy and light multi-purpose machine guns, automatic rifles, fabricated long-range revolvers, pump action guns, double and single barrel guns, automatic revolvers, dane guns, local shells, local pistols and revolvers, various sizes of live ammunition and various explosives device.”