Crisis Looms in Plateau over Arrest of Traditional Leaders by Security Agents

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Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The semblance of peace currently enjoyed in Plateau State may again be disrupted following the arrest of some traditional rulers that were drafted to Abuja for a peace talk towards resolving a lingering crisis in the Southern Senatorial zone of the state.

Addressing a press conference in Jos yesterday, Ngwang Ishi O’Tarok (NIO), a traditional group in the zone, warned that the continuous incarceration of the leaders by security agents had started generating serious tension which may degenerate to breakdown of law and order in the state if not quickly addressed.

NIO President, Mr. David Dashe, recalled that “in recent years, the Tarok community in Wase has been involved in intra-ethnic crisis which degenerated into severe repression of opponents, loss of lives and massive destruction of property,” adding that the ugly experience has left behind scars of worry, and has increasingly induced a climate of fear and anxiety among the innocent population in the area, especially women and children.
Commending Governor Simon Lalong over his role, he said the state government has continued to intervene to bring the situation under control.

Dashe noted the peace dialogue initiated by the state government in collaboration with the efforts of the Wase Joint Traditional Council, the Langtang North and the South Joint Traditional Council, and the Tarok Elders Forum (TEF) in calling for calm and engaging the warring factions in peace talks. He said this effort was already yielding desired results before the security agents moved in and arrested some traditional rulers.

He aded that in a bid to further pursue a lasting and permanent peace, a committee was set up which employed the non-conventional approach in tackling the matter and had held series of meetings with the two warring leaders in the crisis, the Ponzhi Kadarko, Chief Lot Nden and the Ponzhi Kurmi, Mr. Shehu Jatau.

“Sustainable progress has been achieved and in furtherance to finding lasting solution, a peace-meeting, involving the two leaders in the crisis and other stakeholders was held in Plateau liaison office, Abuja on 30th October, 2019.

“The Abuja peace-meeting was adjudged very successful and productive. After the meeting, however, security agents trailed and arrested one of the leaders, Mr. Shehu Jatau and his group,” Dashe said.

He lamented that though NIO could not question the role of security agents in performing their lawful duty, the body was worried about the wrong timing of the arrest as it appeared inimical to the peace effort being made.

NIO Secretary, Nangor Ndam, in his remarks, said: “We are particularly worried that the arrest came after a meeting convened by graded traditional rulers who have worked tirelessly over the time to calm the fragile peace situation in the affected areas. The situation has also brought the dignity of the royal fathers to disrepute and is predictably generating categories of tension and anxiety among the people.

“We hereby call on the security agency that is responsible for the arrest to have a re-think and release the arrested persons for the sake of peace and in order to allow the committee completes the task they were set to accomplish. This call is necessarily and is in line with our strong belief that the approach of confrontation and maximum use of force has not abated the crisis in Wase and may worsen it.

“On our part, we have continued to call on the people to maintain calm and give peace a chance. This, we have done, in strong belief that the security agents and indeed the federal government will appreciate the character of the crisis in Wase and embrace the non-conventional approach to resolving it as initiated by Plateau State Government.”