Army Warns Killers In Adamawa, Benue, Taraba …As Death Toll From Plateau Herdsmen Attacks Hits 20

Wife of the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs Inime Aguma (left), with Commissioner for Women Affairs, Barrister Ukel Oyaghiri (2nd right), member, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Victoria Nyeche (right) and former Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Toru Ofili, during the International Women’s Day celebration in Port Harcourt, last Thursday. Photo:Egberi A. Sampson

The Nigerian Army has warned all persons perpetrating various crimes against humanity in Adamawa, Benue and Taraba States to desist forthwith or be ready to face the full force of the military.
The Army’s stance signed by its Director, Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu was displayed on its Twitter handle, @HQNigerianArmy.
Expressing worry at the wanton arson and killings in the country, especially in the three Northern states, the Army said it had directed its men to activate its rules on engagement in dealing with the crimes which they said were tantamount to arson and murder.
Describing the continued arson and killings in the three states as disturbing and senseless, the military spokesperson said it had mandated its commanders in the concerned areas to implement decisive actions to arrest the menace or face court-martial.
While noting that it was working with other security agencies to stem the tide, the Army avowed that it had resolved to arrest all perpetrators as well as their backers, no matter how highly placed they were.
The Army’s stance read, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the continued disturbing, senseless killings and wanton destruction of properties in Adamawa, Benue and Taraba States.
“Our Rules of Engagement (ROE) is clear on arson & murder, therefore, no such criminal acts would be allowed in any of the aforementioned states.
“We would like to unequivocally reiterate that Army HQs warns the arsonists and the killers to stop or face decisive action by troops.
In view of this, we strongly warn the perpetrators of these crimes to desist forthwith.
“The public are please reminded that when troops are called out for internal security operations, they are not to joke or persuade anyone.
We have warned our commanders on the ground to take decisive actions or face court-martial.
“The Nigerian Army in conjunction with sister services and other security agencies are working assiduously to identify and arrest all those involved regardless of their disposition in the society including government functionaries.”
Meanwhile, the death toll from the attacks on communities in Plateau State has risen to 20, the police have said.
Residents, however, said 25 people have been killed.
Our correspondent reported that the attacks on communities in Bokkos Local Government Area including on the days President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state. The attacks occurred between March 7 and 9.
Residents have blamed herdsmen for the attack.
Our correspondent gathered that victims were murdered in their sleep by gunmen who invaded Laake village in Kwall district of the local government.
The national president of Irigwe Development Association, Honourable Sunday Abdul, who confirmed this to Sunday Tribune in Jos, said the gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen stormed Laake village in a commando-like operation, killing four children were killed in their sleep.
learnt that the incident started last Wednesday when gunmen, in their large numbers invaded both Dafo and Josho villages in the local government, with the attack said to have lasted till Friday.
The attackers, it was learnt, killed 18 people while two others died on their way to the hospital in Jos.
Worse hit villages included Ngakudung, Farunhai, Mhorok, Ganda and Warrem-Hotom.
Also hit were Maidunna and Josho, where Sen. Joshua Dariye (APC/Plateau Central), took relief materials to last week, following an attack on the village in February.
The councillor representing Dafo ward, Hon. Danjuma Mabas, who confirmed the latest number of causalities said, apart from the 20 that were given mass burial on Saturday, there were several others that are still missing, adding that over 50 houses were burnt.
“The attackers,” he said, “swooped on the two villages in their large number ahead of President Mohammadu Buhari’s visit to Plateau State, having got wind of the fact that the security men had been withdrawn to provide security for the president.”
“As of Friday evening, no fewer than 20 people were killed, over 50 houses were burnt while many other people are still missing,” Mabas added.
Another prominent native of Bokkos, Reverend Mamot Daladi Adams, said the withdrawal of security men at the local government paved the way for the gunmen to launch the attack on the affected villages.
He said: “From our findings, the security men on ground in the local government were withdrawn to protect Mr. President, who was on a two-day visit to Plateau State. The rate of attack in the state is highly disturbing; no fewer than five traditional rulers have been killed in this local government in recent times, yet the state government is deceiving the Federal Government that there is peace in the state.”
Some of the villagers, who spoke to newsmen, said that the attackers wore “black uniform” and had sophisticated guns.
“The attackers wore black uniforms and had something that looked liked a scarf on their heads,” one Malo Mafulul, told our correspondent at Ganda village.
Wabas, who confirmed Mafulul’s claims, described the situation as “scary,” saying that more people were still unaccounted for.
Major Umar Adams, the spokesman of Operation Save Haven (OPSH), the security outfit in charge of security in Plateau, confirmed the attacks.
Reacting to the allegation that the redeployment of military men to reinforce security operatives in Jos during the visit of Mr. President caused the killings in both Bokkos and Bassa local governments, the Media Officer of STF, Major Umar Adams said no soldier was redeployed from the two areas to Jos.
According to him, the military men used during the visit of Mr. President were those within Jos metropolis and its environs, adding that when the command got wind of the incident in Bokkos, it reacted promptly and was able to arrest five people in connection with the incident.
The state government also denied the insinuation that security men were withdrawn from both Bokkos and Bassa to reinforce the security men in Jos during the president’s visit.
Yesterday, the state’s police command confirmed the arrest of a herdsman with a military AK 47 rifle.
Terna Tyopev, the command’s spokesman, who confirmed the arrest to the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Jos, gave the rifle’s number as HC2614.
He said that the herdsman, Muhammadu Bimini, was arrested by mobile police officers on March 8, at Daffo.
Mr. Tyopev said that the suspect had been transferred from Bokkos to the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Jos and was already being interrogated.
The police spokesman said that 16 people had been confirmed killed in the multiple attacks on several villages that took place between Wednesday, March 7, and Friday, March 9.
He said that the command had deployed more personnel to restore peace to the troubled areas, and advised the people to remain calm and avoid taking laws into their hands.