‘STF at war with militia, not civilians in Plateau’
THE Special Task Force (STF) in Plateau State, on Thursday said that it was at war with a militia group and not civilians. “We are at war with a militia group that killed six of our men a week ago; we have no quarrel with the civilian populace,” STF spokesman, Capt. Iweha Ikedichi, said in Wase.
Meanwhile, the Ngwang Ishi O’tarok (NIO) a socio-cultural and political group of Taroh people of Wase local council of Plateau State has accused the STF and the 3rd Amoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos and Plateau State government of planned genocide against Taroh Nation.
Four Taroh villages, which include Kadarko, Mutum Biyu, Wadatan Arewa, Wadatan Kasuwa all in Wase local council were attacked on Saturday by people suspected to be members of the Nigerian Army, killing over 50 people and about 150 others sustaining injuries.
Ikedichi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that the militia group had allegedly killed six soldiers at Kurmi, a border town between Taraba and Plateau.
He said that three soldiers were still missing. According to him, men of the STF and fighters from the 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army, Rukuba, are engaged in the fight with the armed group.
“It is not true that we are fighting civilians or had gone to Wase to sack any community; the fight is between our men and the militia group. Wadata and Kadarko communities in Wase were only asked to vacate for security purpose and that does not translate to sacking the communities as is being insinuated,” he said.
He said it was last Tuesday’s attack, which affected nine soldiers that forced the STF to engage the militia group in a fierce fight. On the alleged planned genocide, Captain Ikedichi said, “The claim that the army attacked those villages is unfounded without any iota of truth. We are deployed here to protect lives and property of the people.
It is unreasonable to believe that the same soldiers will turn round to attack the people they are supposed to protect.” Plateau State government also described the allegation as unfortunate and sentimental.
Reacting to the allegation yesterday, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Ayuba Dangwom Pam told The Guardian, “It is very unfortunate to include Plateau State government in this attack.
Everybody knows that war of attrition has been going on all over the country. How can they now rope in Plateau State government?” Addressing a press conference yesterday in Jos, the group Chairman, Lohbut Jangle and Secretary Zingfa Danbaki, in a paper titled, “Planned genocide against the Taroh race by the Nigerian Army and the Plateau State government,” pointed out that on the 2nd of May an unprecedented invasion was witnessed in Wase town, adding that heavy military vehicles and carriers conveying soldiers, arms and ammunition converged on Wase town being mobilized by the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos.”
They stressed that the attack on their people was not carried out by any ethnic group within the locality, “but rather by soldiers from STF and 3rd Armoured Division who instead of defending and protecting the people have decided to kill and destroy our settlement.”
The group therefore called on the Federal Government to immediately investigate this incident, particularly the role of the Nigerian Army and Plateau State government, while urging the National Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.
It also appealed to relevant government agencies both local and international to come to the aid of displaced persons as well as compensate them, while demanding the withdrawal of the soldiers from civilian settlements into barracks to forestall future occurrence.
The claim that the army attacked those villages is unfounded without any iota of truth. We are deployed here to protect lives and property of the people. It is unreasonable to believe that the same soldiers will turn round to attack the people they are supposed to protect.