Governor Jonah Jang
•SSS detains Fulani leader
By Seriki Adinoyi
The Special Task Force (STF) on the Jos crises has assured citizens of Plateau State that the communities recently attacked in the southern part of the state are now well secured against further attacks, adding that over 100 of the assailants have been killed.
The commander of STF, Major General Henry Ayoola, who disclosed this during an interactive session with reporters in his office at the STF headquarters, Jos, Wednesday, dismissed the claim that there is a rise in the death toll resulting from continued attacks in the communities.
He said: “This is not a case of the ethnic crisis between Fulani and Tarok; it was a case where some gunmen came to attack residents of the three communities in Langtang South Local Government Area.”
He added: “As soon as the STF got the information, we moved in there to confront the attackers. The attackers challenged my troops, but when they discovered that we have superior fire power, they fled.
“But before the gunmen retreated, we had killed over 20 of them. My troops traced them to their hiding place and gunned down several of them, days after the attack.
“So far, we had killed more than 100 of the attackers before we succeeded in securing the areas. You know it is the practice of the attackers not to leave any of their members behind wherever they come to attack, they take their corpses along.”
He went further to deny that fighting was still going on in the area. “It is not true that fighting is still going on there. Who is fighting who? We chased the attackers away that same day; we killed them in numbers and those who escaped never came back since then. So who is fighting who in Langtang?” he asked.
He said: “The fact that we have secured the place by driving the attackers away does not mean that we have left the place; the troops are all over the place conducting intensive patrols – dusk-to-dawn, and dawn-to-dusk.
“One fact people are not aware of is that the casualties were more on the side of the attackers; we killed more than 100 of them as they tried to escape. No single resident of the community has been killed by anyone following the attack, and we would not allow any resident to be killed any longer because we have secured the community.”
While appealing to the people of the area to cooperate with his men by providing them with relevant information, Ayoola urged those who fled their homes in fear to return, assuring them that soldiers had taken control of the areas.
He also warned people against peddling false information, saying this was capable of inflaming the situation.
Since the attacks on three communities last Thursday, there have been conflicting figures on the casualties. While the STF claimed 28 members of the communities were killed, the police said only 10 were killed.
But the member representing the constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Beni Lar, placed the figure at over 70, adding that several others had been displaced.
In a related development, the Plateau State Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), a Fulani association, Muhammad Nura Abdullahi, has been detained by the State Security Service (SSS) in connection with the recent attack on Langtang South Local Government Area.
Abdullahi was invited to the STF headquarters in Jos shortly after the Langtang attack, but was subsequently handed over to the SSS for further interrogation and has not been released since then.
The state Director of SSS, Mr. Chris Ojobo, said he could not comment on the matter as he was on vacation.
But the STF Media and Information Officer, Captain Salisu Mustapha, Wednesday confirmed that the STF had invited the MACBAN secretary for interrogation, adding that he had since been released to the custody of the SSS and Nigeria police.
Mustapha, however, did not confirm that Abdullahi’s interrogation was in connection with the Langtang attack, saying: “I cannot confirm whether it has to do with the Langtang attack or not because I was not part of the interrogation team. But I know it is all part of security work and it is routine.”
The state MACBAN had petitioned Ayoola a few days before the Langtang attack, urging him to intervene in the ongoing cattle rustling activities in the area. The association had alleged that the Tarok youths were responsible for the rustling.