Hold Lalong responsible for lingering Plateau crisis, Middle Belt group tells citizens

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Indigenes of North Central States under the aegis of Conference of Middle Belt Nationalities, COMBEN, has blamed the protracted crisis between herdsmen and natives in Plateau State on the state governor, Simon Lalong.

The group, at a press conference, addressed by its Chairman, Nanle Nyelong,yesterday in Jos, insisted that the deliberate inability Governor of Lalong to complement the efforts of the Federal Government by assisting with some necessary logistics was the reason the crisis was still festering.

The group particularly said the insensitivity of Governor Simon Lalong was responsible for the renewed attacks in the state, alleging that the governor has blatantly ignored security advice that he should complement the federal government’s efforts by providing special forces deployed by the police and the military with motorbikes as use in hinterlands given that the attackers have always looked for inaccessible villages to carry out their heinous activities.

To this end, the group asked citizens of the state to henceforth hold Lalong responsible for any attacks witnessed in the state.

Reading a prepared text to newsmen at the occasion, the Middle Belt group, while regretting the uncooperative attitude of the governor, noted that:”The attackers always look for inaccessible villages where they know that security cannot come after them with vehicles except with motorbikes.”

Recalling what it said happened in the Hashish district area of the state with the military’s Special Task Force, STF where deployed in the wake of attacks in the area were unable to access it with operational vehicles, the group said there was the need for purchase of motorcycles for use by the security operatives in the interior parts of the state.

“We saw what the STF men went through in Miango when the area was attacked some months ago. We know equally that following the harrowing experience in the area, the state governor, Simon Lalong, was advised on how to complement the federal government’s efforts by providing motorcycles for use by the security agencies to enable them respond to any incidents with minutes. But regrettably, the governor is yet to respond positively to that effect.

“Why won’t a responsible state government purchase ordinary motorcycles to protect his people and other logistics? We know that several appeals have been made to the governor on this request by different stakeholders even traditional rulers but His Excellency is still adamant is it because it’s not people from his local government that are being killed? Or are berom and irigwi not plateau indigenes?.

“We are compelled by this sad and regrettable action of the governor to ask if he would have done same if his local government of origin were the one directly involved in the latest attacks.

” We learnt that even the police and military special squad that were deployed to the state to help police the state have no motorbikes or any form of logistics support from the state government. The police can’t even fuel their operational vehicles to patrol, and if there’s attack anywhere the security cannot respond within good time because they have no mobility. Must the Plateau State government leave everything for the federal government? He asked.

The group which has been involved in various levels of advocacy, community interactions and review of the security situation in the state, insisted that the plateau state government must begin to think of how to adequately complement efforts of the federal government in the provision of fast means of mobility to vulnerable areas in the hinterlands.

The group also alleged that the Plateau State Peace Building Agency was seriously being starved of funds, saying “as we sit here to address you the press, the agency cannot go to one community of Plateau State to carry its function of peace mediation because of the lack of funds.

Nyelong spoke further:” In the wake of the recent killings in some parts of plateau state , we as a mother body of ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt, has been involved at various levels of advocacy, community interactions and review of the situation so as to profer lasting solutions, going forward on the peace and stability of our people.

“The Plateau State Government which has the constitutional burden of protecting its citizens can do better in the utilization of security votes accruing to the state by channeling the money for the acquisition of powerbikes and logistics for use by the Security agencies.

“Over the last three years, the federal government has demonstrated commendable commitment to providing moral and logistics support to her security agencies in plateau state for the actualisation of the that solemn duty that why you can see that miango is relatively peaceful now.”

The group said:”While we acknowledge and understand the role of the federal government in controlling and sponsoring the security agencies, it is pertinent to note that, the state government can not abdicate itself of the moral duty to support every aspect of the security operations’ meant to enhance the security of lives and property of people under its watch.”

Noting that the essence of security votes at the disposals of state governors were particularly meant for logistics support to security agencies, it regretted that the Plateau State Government has not lived up to expectations in logistics support to the security agencies deployed in the state.

“Sadly, in Plateau State which has been under siege by hoodlums, the state government having acknowledged the support of the federal government to ending the ugly development, has not done much in supporting the security agencies’ operations,” as I speak to you now security agencies cannot fuel their operational vehicles.

The organization while observing that the geographical terrain of communities in Plateau State was “quite mountainous and hilly, and cannot be easily accessed, using conventional vehicles” , tasked the plateau state government “to be in the forefront of providing adequate special motorcycles to security agencies to aid their penetration in the affected communities for maximum efficiency.”

“A situation where security agencies are not encouraged with infrastructural equipment even upon special requests to complement the huge effort of the federal government,is completely demoralizing,” it stressed.

As observed by the group, while they have the uphill task of restoring peace in Plateau State, the Special Forces comprising men of the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian military deployed in the wake of renewed onslaught against innocent citizens of the state, are faced with major problem of accessing the hinterland due largely to lack of motorable roads.

The access routes linking these areas are not ones that require the security personnel to drive through with vehicles. This, perhaps, explains why so much damage are always recorded before the arrival of security personnel whenever there are attacks.

For positive impact to be made and fast too, security agents manning the state’s hinterlands must be provided with means of mobility such as powerbikes , given the speed needed to respond to the distress calls by victims of attacks.

Investigation carried out following the low impact always made by security agents in response to distress calls, showed that speed has been the major problem as the access roads are not motorable.

To this end, the authorities in Plateau State must immediately begin to think towards the direction of purchasing motorcycles for use by the Special Forces deployed in the state instead of waiting for the long bureaucracy of the federal government.

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