- Â As CAN, JNI, others sue for peace in Plateau
Abimbola Akosile in Lagos, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto and Wale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Against the backdrop of heightened security situation around the country and the backdrop of reprisal in Jos following the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East region, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and others have reassured citizens in Plateau State and around Nigeria that adequate security is in place against any upheaval by October 1 independence anniversary and beyond.
Dambazzauâ€™s assurance was also echoed by other top government officials including the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and the Senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, Jonah David Jang.
Dambazzau said he was in Jos on a fact-finding mission and also on solidarity visit to the government and people of the state over the skirmishes in the state on Thursday night.
He said, â€œOf course, it is the responsibility of government to protect the lives and property of the citizens; and we are happy that the Governor of the state has done just that.â€
He insisted that every Nigerian has the right to live wherever he decides. â€œI can assure Nigerians that the security of their lives and property is guaranteed everywhere within the country by October first. Measures are in place with the security agencies and intelligence community, to ensure that nobody is harassed by October 1.
â€œEven those that issued the quit notice have withdrawn it. On the part of government, we are doing everything to ensure that lives of citizens are protected no matter where they reside.â€
On his part, Governor Lalong assured citizens of his administrationâ€™s commitment to peace and stability in the state, saying that all non-indigenes in Plateau state were safe and urged them to go about their legitimate businesses without fear.
â€œThe incident took us by surprise. I call on community and religious leaders to caution their wards at home as any culprit arrested would not go free as nobody is above the law.
â€œI want to tell all citizens that their security and welfare as the primary concern of government is assured by the Rescue Administration. I am therefore enjoining all citizens to go about their business with the assurance that their safety is guaranteed.â€
Lalong also appealed to all religious and community leaders, neighbourhood vigilantes as well as all law-abiding citizens to ensure nobody is allowed to take advantage of this unfortunate situation to engage in criminality.
â€œWe wish to restate that Plateau State remains home to all citizens of Nigeria irrespective of religion, ethnic extraction or political persuasion. I therefore enjoin all peace loving citizens to ensure that nothing is allowed to upset the hard earned peace in the state,â€ he added.
Also, Sokoto state government has urged all residents to go about their normal activities without fear of molestation, saying all arrangements have been put in place to ensure security of lives and property.
A statement issued by Malam Imam Imam, the spokesman to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said what is happening in other parts of the country, especially the South East, will have no negative effect on residents of Sokoto.
â€œGovernor Tambuwal has urged for calm. He has met severally with security agencies, religious and traditional rulers. He is also in touch with members of the resident communities.
â€œIn addition, the Governor is in touch with his counterparts in other states to see how they can synergise to ensure that peace is maintained. Residents are thereby urged to report any suspicious activities to constituted authorities,â€ the statement added.
The statement praised the people of Sokoto for being their brothersâ€™ keepers, and urged them to engage in acts that enhance unity, brotherhood and understanding at all times.
â€œWeâ€™re happy to note that so far, business premises, markets, worship centres and public gatherings have continued unhindered. This administration is committed to sustaining our cherished status as the most peaceful State in Nigeria,â€ it added.
In a related development, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has appealed to FCT residents to go about their lawful duties without any fear of molestation as the FCT has put all machinery in place to ensure security of lives and property in the Territory.
The FCT Minister made this call while briefing the media after an emergency meeting of the FCT Security Committee which took place today in his official residence.
His words, â€œThe purpose of the meeting was to review the situation in the South East and its implication for the residents of the FCT as a Centre of Unity. We are properly briefed, and the whole idea is to ensure that FCT remains as peaceful as it has always been. We also used to occasion to receive update on the situation of law and order in all the Area Councils and satellite towns. From all the reports we received FCT is peaceful.
â€œIt is very clear that from what we read from the social media and some other electronic media, there are some people out there who clearly want to create trouble in this country. Obviously government would not allow this to happen and certainly, in the FCT, we would not allow that to happen. That is why I am calling on all residents to ignore any negative report they read on the social media platforms that tend towards disunity, disaffection and targeted clearly towards trying to create trouble.
The Minister further said: â€œIn the FCT, all the ethnic groups, religions and creeds are fully represented and live harmoniously. The laws of the land are very clear and anyone trying to foment trouble would be dealt with according to law. To this effect all the security agencies have been placed on heightened alert.â€
Malam Bello appealed to all FCT residents, especially those from the South East to live peacefully, to carry on with their lawful businesses without any fear and to discountenance the antics of some people out there who clearly want to create trouble.â€
He stressed, â€œThe Administration will not shirk it responsibility for the protection of lives and property in the FCTâ€ while enjoining all the traditional rulers and chairmen to cascade the outcome of the deliberations to the Area Councils and grassroots communities. He also harped on the necessity for all residents to be alert to the happenings around the neighbourhood as security is a collective responsibility.
He thanked the people of FCT for their peaceful and calm nature urging them to continue to remain law abiding.
The new FCT Commissioner of Police, Malam Abubakar Sadiq Bello announced that security agencies have put in measures to collaborate and work together to ensure peace and order as well as the exchange of intelligence in the Territory. He said this had already commenced with the show of force conducted on Friday.
Similarly, he disclosed that arrangement are in place for both visibility policing and intelligence gathering and sharing with other sister agencies. â€œWe are well prepared to stop any threat,â€ he assured.
Meanwhile, Jang has also called for calm â€œespecially now that the situation has been contained.â€
In a statement by his Media consultant, Mr. Clinton Garuba, the Senator said he believes that â€œat this critical moment in our nationhood, it is still possible for all citizens of Nigeria to live peacefully anywhere in the country irrespective of tribe, religion, gender, or creed.â€
While suing for peace and the abandonment of any acts of retaliation, Jang called on Lalong to do more in the areas of confidence building, restoration of trust, and the security of lives and property belonging to all Nigerians living in the state.
He commended the security operatives for the prompt and proactive measures they took to restore normalcy and prevent further escalation of the fracas.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau State chapter has expressed shock over the escalation of the crisis in Abia state to Plateau state, which resulted in the death of two in Jos on Thursday night.
In a statement issued by the Plateau state CAN Chairman, Rev. Soja Bewarang, the association frowned on the conduct of â€œsome disgruntled elements, whose stock-in-trade and design is to throw Plateau State into confusionâ€, and also condemned the quit notice by the Arewa Youths as well the agitations of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-east.
While calling on both parties to pursue the path of peace, CAN also called on the Igbos on the state to remain calm as nobody would ask them to leave Plateau.
â€œWe appreciate the Governor and security agencies for their prompt intervention and courageous work yesterday on the directives of the Governor to calm the situation. CAN calls on its members to remain calm, law abiding and to pursue the path of peace. Christians are hereby requested to obey the measures so far taken by the government to bring this disturbance to order.
â€œCAN wishes to assure the Governor, the security agencies and all citizens of its total support and cooperation to ensuring that peace reigns. The peace of the state is the peace of the church and society. Let us all wise up and work collective to frustrate the designs of criminals in our midst. Information on social media must be verified with security agencies and nobody should take the law into their hands; enough of this madness.â€
In a related development, the state chapter of Jamaâ€™atu Nasril Islam (JNI) appealed to the Muslim Ummah and the general public to shun acts capable of disrupting the hard earned peace in the state.
This was contained in a statement signed by Sani Mudi, the Director of Publicity of JNI on the Plateau.
The statement said: â€œJNI finds it necessary and of utmost importance to remind us that we in Plateau state had just in the last few years emerged from a decade long ethno religious conflict which left us with unbearable socio economic and political consequences. The sad saga of disruption of peace and lawlessness in some parts of the country is not worth our response except in the exhibition of mature and civil way, trusting that appropriate authorities are capable of responding as the situation warrants.
â€œWe should therefore cherish our peaceful co-existence and do all within our power to sustain it, regardless of the provocation, as peace is priceless. We reiterate our call on governments at all levels to ensure the protection of lives and properties of all citizens wherever they may be lawfully residing. We shall not relent on our commitment to peace and appeal for it at all times.â€
Also, a pressure group, Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN) described â€œthe unpleasant events of yesterday evening in Jos which caused panic around some parts of the metropolis, which were speculated to be reactions to the unfortunate events surrounding the IPOB agitation in the South Eastâ€, as unacceptable.
PIDAN in a statement signed by Mr. Stephen Sarki Musa the groupâ€™s Director of Publicity commended the swift response by the state government in imposing curfew, adding that â€œit essential at this critical time to remind residents of the state that it is not long ago that we emerged from a decade of series of conflicts which left us with unbearable social, economic and political consequences.â€
Likewise, Plateau Youth Council has also expressed shock that a crisis in faraway Abia state was allowed to spill over to Jos, describing it as unfortunate.
A statement signed by Mr. Fabong Jemchang, the Chairman of the youth group said the fracas was perpetrated â€œby disgruntled elements that have no idea of what we have been through these years.
â€œThe aftermath of the Biafra war has left a scar in the history of our dear country and only those who were around and are still alive can better tell the story. Those who survived paid the price for peace.
â€œIt is with pain, yet a deep sense of responsibility that we appeal to the youths and the entire public to shun any acts that are capable of causing mayhem. We state emphatically that Plateau State is not a revenge ground, as hard and harsh as this may sound. What happened yesterday just goes to show that we have got people with evil intentions amidst us, who are also determined to bring confusion and unrest.â€
Also, in a message to Christians at the end of the FCT meeting, the FCT Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Dr. Jonah Samson enjoined all Pastors and believers to preach and pursue peace and to ensure that â€œwe encourage people to live together in harmonyâ€.
He charged all Christians â€œto stay away from trouble and to pray for our nation, so that it would be a better place especially as we approach the independence anniversary celebrationâ€, adding that love is paramount.