Plateau Killings: Tarok Community Protests To House Of Assembly
REPRESENTATIVES of Tarok community in Plateau State yesterday presented a protest letter to the state House of Assembly condemning the alleged extra judicial killing of innocent civilians in Wase Local Government Council of the state by military personnel. Dressed in black attires to mourn 53 of their kinsmen who were allegedly massacred in Kadarko district of Wase by the army, the Tarok representatives carried placards with inscriptions such as “Soldiers are terrorists”, “Soldiers are political hired killers”, and “Is Tarok land Sambisa Forest?” among others. They urged the lawmakers to step up efforts to probe the alleged killings. This is coming as the state Governor, Jonah Jang, has denied any involvement in the killing of the people during recent clashes between militia groups and the military, saying it was “uncharitable, disheartening and unfair” to drag his name into the incident. Meanwhile, the Spokesman of the Special Task Force (STF), Captain Ikedichi Iweha has said the entire border between Plateau and Taraba States would be combed to rid the border of militiamen now taking refuge in the areas and terrorising residents. Consoling the people of Tarok, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Titus Alams, condemned the killings, stressing that the House would work with the National Assembly to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. Alams lamented that major tribes in the state were under attacks on the Plateau, noting that the development portends danger. “After they have finished with major tribes, the minority tribes are threatened because the attackers are on the trail of major ones,” he warned. While denying any involvement in the killings following allegations that he had deployed the military to the area, Jang said it was the height of irresponsibility for anyone to envisage that for political reasons a governor would connive with soldiers to kill his subjects. Jang’s reaction was contained in a statement yesterday by his Executive Assistant on Media, Clinton Garuba. The Ngwang Ishi O’tarok (NIO), a socio-cultural and political group of Tarok people of Wase Local Council had on Wednesday accused the STF, the 3 Amoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos, and Plateau State government of planning genocide against Tarok nation. Four Taroh villages which include Kadarko, Mutum Biyu, Wadatan Arewa and Wadatan Kasuwa all in Wase Local came under attacks last Saturday by people suspected to be members of the Nigerian Army killing over 50 people while about 150 others sustained various degrees of injuries. Houses, barns and livestock worth millions of naira were also destroyed in the attacks. Garuba said it was common knowledge that neither the men of the STF nor the police take orders from the governor. “They are both controlled from Abuja by the Defence Headquarters and the Force Headquarters respectively. To insinuate that the Plateau State Government has a hand in the matter is only a ploy to taint the image of the Governor and the State Government.” He cautioned that the time for partisanship was over, noting that the government was now in a transition period and was doing everything within its ability to have a smooth transition to the incoming administration. “To try to drag the government into this matter smacks more of a deliberate contraption to rubbish the government and paint it in a bad light before the court of public opinion. “The state government recognises that those who lost loved ones are in pain but must not allow such pain experienced at the moment to push them to the point of making unguarded utterances that will fan the embers of hatred and disunity among the people,” Garuba said. He disclosed that the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) had been mandated to bring relief material to the affected communities. “This is part of the little way government can assuage the sufferings of the people affected. Government will continue to do whatever is within its powers to protect the lives of citizens until it bows out on May 29,” he added. Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Iweha pointed out that the operation against the militiamen was ongoing to ensure that soldiers totally flush out the threats posed by them. He disclosed that the STF had so far killed 28 of the militiamen in gun duels. According to him, “sequel to the attacks on communities in Taraba and Plateau States, there has been military operation which started since April 29 and contact was made with members of the militia group on Saturday evening. Having made the contact with them, I mean having engaged them by our soldiers in gun battle, the operation really finished early Monday at the end of which one soldier was injured and 28 members of the militia lost their lives while the armoury of the militia was destroyed by the army.” “However, normalcy has already been restored in the area. It is not true that the army went out just attacking communities. Where the operation actually took place was an abandoned or unregistered community by this same militia. So, it is not true that the army went on reprisal because of the soldiers that were killed. “But severally in Plateau State, soldiers have been killed and those communities have not been attacked. In fact, we still have some soldiers guarding such communities up till now. So, it is not true that the soldiers went on reprisal. This is just a matter of national security,” he added.