Govt imposes 24-hour curfew
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Four protesters were on Thursday shot dead and three others severely injured by security operatives in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, as the operatives battled angry protesters to rescue Ardo (Fulani leader) of the area from being lynched.
The mayhem has forced the state government to impose a 24-hour curfew on Bokkos to prevent an escalation of the crisis and total breakdown of law and order, following the killing of the traditional ruler of the community, Saf Ron Kulere, Lazarus Agai, by suspected herdsmen.
This is even as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations, Joshack Habilla, has appealed to the protesters, cautioning: “Two wrongs cannot make a right,” and urged them not to take the law into their hands.
There has been heightened unease in Bokkos community since Monday following the murder of the traditional ruler.
The first class traditional ruler was killed alongside his driver and his personal aide, as they returned from the farm at Sha. Since then, the community has witnessed serial protests by angry youths of the area, who alleged that the Fulani herdsmen were responsible for the slaying.
The youths have razed several houses and other properties belonging to Fulani indigenes in the area, with the state Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Mallam Mohammad Nuru, calling on the security forces to protect them.
The protest turned bloody yesterday when the irate youths made a demand for the Fulani leader in the custody of security forces.
Speaking on yesterday’s protests, the spokesman of the security forces in the state, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, said following the unfortunate killing of the traditional ruler by unknown gunmen, “some youths on Thursday blocked the roads leading to Bokkos and started burning tyres and harassing innocent citizens.”
“The situation got out of hand when the youths attempted to lynch the Ardo (Fulani leader) of Bokkos, but security operatives swiftly came to the rescue of the man and other innocent citizens and it was in the process that some of the youths opened fire on the security operatives.
“This development prompted the security operatives to fire into the air to disperse the youths and in the process three of the youths lost their lives while some security operatives sustained various degrees of injuries,” he added.
Iweha also confirmed that a 24-hour curfew had been imposed on the area.
Reacting to the killing of the traditional ruler, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the northern states, Reverend Yakubu Pam, condemned the murder of the monarch, whom he described as a devoted Christian.
He said such a devilish act must be condemned by all lovers of peace, especially after another village head from the same locality was killed about a week earlier.
Pam called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give marching orders to security operatives in the country to end the orgy of killings of innocent Nigerians in the north, insisting that the perpetrators of the latest killing must be fished out and punished.
The DIG said the police were deploying more policemen, including CIDs to Bokkos for reinforcement. He also said the helicopter that brought him to Bokkos would immediately be sent back as soon as it takes him back to Abuja, to maintain surveillance over the community.
Yesterday, the acting Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris had directed Habilla to proceed to Plateau State with immediate effect to ensure the arrest of the killers of Chief Agai.
The IG said those behind the gruesome murder of the monarch would be fished out in record time for prosecution, explaining this as the reason for the deployment of the DIG to Plateau State.
He appealed to the aggrieved indigenes of the community to be patient with the police to carry out the investigation into the murder of the monarch.
He promised that no stone would be left unturned in arresting the culprits, but called for the collaboration of anyone with useful information to assist the police.
Idris assured Nigerians that the Nigeria Police under his watch would ensure decency in the polity.
Meanwhile, the senator representing Plateau Central in the National Assembly, Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, who incidentally is from Bokkos, broke down in tears as he arrived the palace of the monarch.
While recounting the last moments he had with the traditional ruler, Dariye called for calm, urging the state government to set up a panel to unravel the culprits behind the unfortunate incident.
In Jos, the state capital, other groups of protesters including women and youths dressed in black marched to the Government House to call on government to end the renewed spate of killings in the state.