President Goodluck Jonathan
Chuks Okocha and Seriki Adinoyi
President Goodluck Jonathan Tueasdy absolved the religious sect, Boko Haram of the recent spate of violence in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas in Plateau State, which resulted in the death of Senator Gyang Dantong, Hon. Gyang Fulani and more than 100 other people.
He also exonerated the Federal Government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of intimidating and harassing members of the opposition parties, saying the government and party’s stance has enabled democracy to thrive in the country.
As the President absolved Boko Haram of blame for the Plateau crisis, no fewer than five persons were killed yesterday in two separate attacks in Bukuru and Sabon-Gida Kanap, both in Jos South Local Government Area of the state.
The president spoke at the 60th meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP, during which the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, presented his three-point agenda of Reconciliation, Reformation and Rebuilding.
President Jonathan said: “We believe that if we do not have a party as robust as the PDP, probably, the republic would have collapsed.”
On the security challenges in the country and especially the recent massacre in Plateau State, the president said that it was not caused by the activities of the infamous religious sect, Boko Haram.
According to him, “Boko Haram had nothing to do with it,” stating that he and the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, and other stakeholders were working hard to resolve the crisis through dialogue.
He also promised that very soon, the issue of Boko Haram would be a thing of the past.
On the Federal Government and PDP not intimidating opposition parties, the president said: “We witnessed what happened in the First Republic and we know the circumstances that led to the collapse of that republic and the Second Republic and what is happening in other African countries.
“If the ruling party over-intimidates and imposes itself, using the might of the Federal Government and the citizens revolt, it will weaken the political system, create confusion and instability.”
Jonathan added that despite the fact that the PDP controls the Federal Government, it is operating a system that allows the opposition to operate freely and flies higher than the ruling party.
President Jonathan also lamented the crisis facing the PDP, explaining that in most cases where the party lost elections, it was due to the internal crisis rocking the party because of irreconcilable differences between some senior members of the party in the states.
In this regard, he said that the National Caucus and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party would soon be reconstituted to help resolve the crisis rocking the various state chapters of the party.
He said that the NEC meeting would adopt the amended constitution of the party to enable it reconstitute its BoT and National Caucus and make them more effective in order to reduce friction.
The president said that the next NEC meeting would be briefed on the activities of government by ministers, stating that the National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd), would make the first presentation.
The NEC meeting was attended by the governors of Rivers, Abia, Ebonyi, Gombe, Plateau, Kebbi and Benue States and several deputy governors.
Others in attendance included Senate President David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, former national chairmen – Barnbas Gemade, Ahmadu Ali and Harilu Bello – among other prominent members of the party.
Meanwhile, no fewer than five persons were killed yesterday in two separate attacks in Bukuru and Sabon-Gida Kanap, both in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
In Bukuru, the attack, which left a seven-year-old boy dead at Kerana, near an Islamiyya School, was trailed by conflicting reports from eyewitnesses in the neighbourhood.
An eyewitness, Mr. Gyang Moses, said a red Opel Vectra car drove along Bukuru Expressway when an explosive was thrown out from the car which exploded on landing.
He said it was from the gunshots that followed the incident that led to the death of the seven-year-old, Inuwa Yakubu, who was passing by.
Another witness said it was a rocket-propelled grenade fired out of Toyota Carina car into the school, adding that the Muslim-dominated community quickly reacted with gunshots leading to random shooting around the area, adding that several gunshots were fired as people scampered to safety.
On his part, the treasurer of the school, Alhaji Usman Danlami, said at about 10.30 am when teachers were in the classroom preparing pupils for examination, all of a sudden loud gunshots were heard near the school.
He said that the school must have been the target “but the bullets hit the wall of a house close to the school which led to the death of a minor”.
But the Secretary of Muslim Elders Committee in Bukuru, Mallam Bala Baba Mohammed, gave the name of the boy as Rufai Umar, a nine-year-old boy, disclosing that he died from the rocket launched at the Islamiyya School.
Mohammed, who said the incident resulted in skirmishes around the area, added that three unidentified persons launched a grenade from a red Gulf car while students of the Isamiyya School were writing exams.
He said two other adults, Yusuf and Waje, were found dead a few minutes later – one from bullet wounds, while the other was stabbed with a sharp object.
Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the Special Task Force (STF), Captain Salisu Mustapher said: “There were attacks on Nura Islamic Private School, Kerana area of Bukuru in Jos South Local Government Council of the state.”
He said, “Gunmen drove to the school in the morning, parked their car and fired a rocket-propelled grenade towards the school and in the process killed a seven-year-old boy.
“After the incident tension enveloped Jos and Bukuru metropolis as angry youths blocked roads in a reprisal.”
He added that no arrest had been made, but “STF has condoned the area, and that normalcy has since returned.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Emmanuel Abuh, who blamed the attack on a bomb blast, added that it damaged the brain of the boy who died on the spot.
Meanwhile, four persons were killed in the early hours of Tuesday by unknown gunmen at Sabon Gida Kanap, near Bukuru. An eye witness said the attackers invaded a house at about 3 am and killed a widow and her three children.
Confirming the killing, Mustapher said” “In the early hours this morning we got reports that there was a robbery attack on one house around that area and there was exchange of fire between the perpetrators and our troops, no arrest was made and I don’t have the figures of the casualty.”