Plateau Community Petitions Lalong over Military Invasion, Harassment

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Governor Simon Lalong

Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

Elders and senior citizens from various communities in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State have petitioned Governor Simon Lalong, over alleged persistent invasion of their villages by soldiers suspected to be members of the Special Task Force (STF) otherwise known as Operation Safe Haven and other security operatives, with many of their people including women and children killed, tortured and assaulted in the process

The petition signed by leaders of seven different associations and copied to the State Commissioner of Police, Director of State Security agency and other security agents including traditional rulers and National Assembly members from the state, alleged that the STF soldiers invaded the Vwang-Kogwot, Dangyuruk, Gwohwong and Kogom villages, broke into their houses, harassed, intimidated and brutalised innocent and defenseless women, children and the elderly for no reason.

The petition dated November 12, 2018 observed that for sometimes now, the security operatives have been conducting unwarranted harassment, intimidation and brutalisation of innocent and defenseless, children, women and the elderly in their communities leading to loss of lives for reasons not known to them.

The petitioners said that the acts have been happening without any iota of consultation with their religious, community and traditional rulers as if they have lost their humanity, fundamental human rights and now live under circumstances like prisoners of war under an invading force that is very brutal.

They cited an instance where seven Hilux vehicles, with different colours, full of troops suspected to be STF operatives from sector 9 in Riyom LGA, invaded some hamlets in Vwang District on November 7, 2018 and in a dramatic and unwarranted operation, broke into homes, randomly beating women and children, and fatally wounding some others.

Maintaining that the community has never condoned any act of criminality or shielded criminals and bandits, they argued that they have been working closely with sector 4 of the STF command and the K Vom Police Division for peace and unity of the area, wondering however, why they should be subjected to this kind of inhuman and violent treatment.

Some of the community leaders who signed the petition included; President, Vwang Development Association (VDA), Da Gabriel Tongwong and Chairman Berom Women Development Association (BEWDA) Vwang District, Ngo Esther D. Vwangdung, demanded government intervention on the alleged harassment and brutality of women and children by the Army.

But reacting, spokesman of the Special Task Force, Major Adams Umar, said the taskforce was yet to receive the petitions.

He added: “We are yet to receive the petition. But those allegations when situated with our mandate in Plateau run contrary to our operation. Operation Safe Haven is here to ensure the maintenance of peace in the state. In the course of doing our job, the bad elements in the society must be fished out and dealt with according to the law to enable the good ones among them continue to live their normal lives.