Plateau crisis:Buhari support group flays redeployment of Atolagbe, OPSH commander


Alleges that arrest of herdsmen in connection with Barkin Ladi attaks reason for action

*Asks DHQ to rescind decision

Supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election project under the aegis of Buhari Tarzarce Vanguard,BTV, has picked hole in Monday’s redeployment of the commander of Operation Safe Haven, OPSH, by the Defence Headquarters, asking the latter to immediately rescind its decision.

The group, at a press conference, Tuesday, in Jos, alleged that the courage displayed by the commander in arresting the herdsmen involved in recent attacks on villages and killings in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, was the reason the military authorities moved against the commander.

To this end, the group at a press conference addressed by its Coordinator, Alhaji Muhamed Bida, in minna, yesterday insisted that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, must reverse Atolagbe’s redeployment else the Plateau people would hold the authorities responsible for any further bloodshed in the state.

Recall that a forthnite ago, the organization after an extraordinary emergency meeting, issued a communique where it called on the president to review the plan to redeploy Major General Anthony Atolagbe.

The group said its call for Atolagbe’s redeployment to Plateau State was based on the confidence it reposed in the commander given the rare courage he displayed in arresting assailants of victims of recent Plateau attacks.

The group, in a prepared text read by Alhaji Biba, said: “Because the security situation was tense at the period, and given the proactive and professional competence the commander displayed to curtail the situation, citizens developed much confidence in his approach to protect lives and property. Indeed, within a few days, he personally relocated his operational base to Barkin Ladi which was at the center of the attacks.

It particularly appealed to President Buhari to prevail on the military high command to reverse the redeployment, noting that allowing the development to stand would create impression in the minds of the Nigerian citizens as a whole that the arrest of herdsmen was the key reason for the military’s action.

“While BTV appreciates the fact that postings and redeployment is a routine military traditions, we must state that this particular one is done in a bad faith and will greatly affect our chances in North Central in 2019 and the Presidency must act now to forestall further damage.

“Our party is already facing a lot of challenges in the North Central states due to the farmers/ herdsmen conflicts and if this posting is not reversed immediately, sentiments will rise and will greatly affect our chance, “the statement further said.

The BTV, according to the statement, asked:” The question begging for answers is that, why didn’t they redeploy the General before he started making the arrests? Why the transfer after the arrest of 25 suspects directly connected to the attacks? Why the posting of an officer who has the courage to tackle these criminal herdsmen spoiling the name of the President and our great party?”

“It is on this premise that we appeal to Mr President to urgently direct the chief of Defence Staff to immediately reverse the deployment of the commander of OPSH and equip the STF with more vadgets to do their work,”it added.

It noted with delight that several arrests were made and were still being made till date, just as it said” more importantly, so many heart rending confessions have been made by the suspects taken into custody so far as we learnt.”

“This singular act of arrest, restored confidence in the public and normal daily routine live was enhanced, “it said.

The text read further:”In order to follow up and consolidate on the successes, the commander ensured that meticulous intelligence gathering was top notch and human rights violations were not contemplated at all in his approach, yet tremendous arrests and successes are being recorded on daily basis and in droves.

“We are constrained to note that, upon all these milestone achievements, which are in line with president Buhari’s policy direction on security , it was left to be seeing why and how the defense headquarter could contemplate the commanders redeployment at this critical time when opposition are looking for campaign reasons.

“Exactly two weeks today, we are inundated with the unfortunate and disastrous news that Major General Anthony Atolagbe would be redeployed at the peak of his earthquaking arrests and discoveries which no doubt would bring an end to the continued killings on the Plateau.

“We are indeed shocked! When we woke up this reality citizens are thrown aback by the decision of the Defense Headquarters to further dined our chance in 2019 by redeploying a focused military officer who was bent on restoring lasting peace to the North Central.

“This is not only sad, but very disheartening and does not project our great party and Mr President’s fight against terrorism in good light.”

The statement added:”How do you redeploy an officer who has made far- reaching positive discoveries on the most challenging and hidden sources of problems bedevilling the entire country? What is the reason for his sudden redeployment?

“Why is the redeployment coming at a time that very critical arrests have been made and useful revelations made indicting prominent people? Why the deployment at a time the opposition are maliciously accusing the Presidency and the North for being behind these herdsmen?

” Is it that the military high command doesn’t really want an end to this conflict for their game? The president must rise up and stand with the people once again by ordering immediate reversal of the posting of Commander of STF in Jos, this will restore confidence in the entire North Central states.”

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