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Amid renewed attacks, Plateau State sues for peace by other means

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Governor Lalong (second from right) listening to Adagwom Izere of Jos His Royal Highness, Ada Emmanuel Azik after inspecting Neighbourhood Security Watchtower

As the spectre of insecurity and criminal banditry seems to be accelerating in various parts of the country, especially in the north, the Plateau State Government decided on some novel initiatives aimed at checking the menace of anti-social elements.  

The government recently disclosed its intention to strengthen the security architecture in the state so as to consolidate on the peace that has been experienced in recent times, which seemed shattered recently in an attack on Kunben village in Kombun District of Mangu Local Government Area.
  
Governor Simon Bako Lalong, who dropped the hint while inspecting the first Neighbourhood Security Watchtower at Dutse Uku in Jos North Local Government Area, said the state has suffered enough of wanton killings and was prepared to put a permanent stop to the menace. Prior to his inspection visit, the governor, who is also the Chairman of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), cancelled all other engagements, including a planned tour of road project sites, to visit Kunben after an attack by gunmen.

  
The recent attack at Kunben reportedly claimed the lives of many innocent citizens, thereby prompting the governor, alongside his Deputy, Prof. Sonny Tyoden, the Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Gen. Augustine Agundu, and other service chiefs in the state to visit the village. The governor and his entourage were also at the palace of the Mishkaham Mwagavul Da, Nelson Bakfur, in Mangu town to commiserate with him over the incident.
   
While commiserating with the victims’ families, Lalong stated that the security agencies were already working conscientiously to unmask those behind the heinous crime.
  
He said: “We are saddened by this attack, which is the work of evil criminals and has the tendency to interrupt our New Year if we allow it. That is why I abandoned everything to personally come here and share your pains and to assure you that we will not allow the enemies of Plateau State to take us back to the era of violence, which we have already put behind us.
  
“What has happened is painful, but I am appealing for your patience and forgiveness. Those behind this will be made to face the full weight of the law as we will not rest until they are apprehended and made to face justice.”
  
Earlier, the District head of Kombun, Audu Tetmut, told the governor that the community was in shock and grief, stressing that “we cannot understand the motive behind this attack, because we have no problems with anybody.”
  
Ruling out the likelihood of any reprisal, Tetmut assured Governor Lalong that his community has submitted everything to God, even as he expressed the belief that his (governor’s) visit and assurances would ensure that they get justice.  Also, the representative of the Fulani community in the area, Ya’u Yusuf condemned the attack and asked everyone to cooperate with the security agencies to get those behind the ugly incident.

Security Watch Tower
Governor Lalong, who arrived at Dutsu Uku site amidst a rousing welcome by residents of the area, was briefed on the concept of the Neighbourhood Security Watchtower by the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet, and Special Services, Mr. Cornelius Shiolbial, who explained that the project is geared at ensuring that there is an early warning system to pre-empt conflicts and nip them in the bud.

  
Shiolbial said: “Your Excellency, the idea behind this is to have a permanent security presence here that consists of security personnel and representatives of the community who will be working hand in hand to ensure that the whole area is under surveillance and any threat to peace is detected and dealt with on time.
  
“The structure here provides offices, watch facilities and a conference hall where they can meet and analyse whatever is observed and possibly diffuse any tension.”
  
He told the governor that the security team headed by Operation Rainbow will run shifts and use the watchtower which is well-positioned to observe large parts of the city.
  
Governor Lalong, who was once a Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, commended the initiative, saying his administration deemed it necessary as part of its continuous efforts at consolidating peace and harmony. He commended the strengthening of security architecture for efficient and timely response, just as he praised the quality of work being handled through direct labour from staff of the ministry of housing.
  
According to Lalong, “We are happy that today there is more understanding among the people, where everyone recognizes the importance of peace, reconciliation, and harmony. We have to work together to promote good neigbourliness, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. This initiative will help us address issues before they escalate and ensure that criminals are not allowed to again cause strife among the people.”
  
The governor assured the people that the ‘Rescue Administration’ would continue to encourage every effort that would ensure that the ugly crises of the past remain a thing of the past. He warned all troublemakers to stay away from the state, as the government would not hesitate to deal decisively with anyone found to be causing disharmony or beating the drums of war.

“I climbed up to the tower and could see almost all parts of the city of Jos. This should tell those who are criminally minded that I will be watching you and send the security agencies to track you down and get you arrested. We have done a lot to ensure that people live in peace and nobody will be allowed to change that.”
  
While thanking the people for supporting his administration and remaining law-abiding, Governor Lalong explained that the government would set up more of such watchtowers and posts in key flashpoints once the pilot scheme is completed in Dutse Uku area.
  
The Adagwom Izere of Jos His Royal Highness, Ada Emmanuel Azik, commended the governor for fulfilling his campaign promises by building infrastructure and also pursuing the path of peace and progress of the state. Lalong responded by saying that the continuing support of Izere people to the government would enable it to discharge its responsibilities to the citizens.


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