While calling for a thorough investigation into the deadly incident, the group expressed worry that with the level of bloodshed so far seen in this country, the Buhari administration must wake up and decisively deal with the matter before it is too late.
In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, the regional group through it’s national Publicity Secretary, Dr. Isuwa Dogo, lamented that “our security agencies cannot achieve the objective of tackling insecurity ripping through their country without synergising with attacked communities for the attainment of safety for all.”
The attention of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has been drawn to the killing of travellers in Jos, the Plateau State capital, at the weekend and the Forum is outraged at such a dastardly act.
The Forum maintains that there can be no justification for these unwarranted killings that have ripped across various communities on the Plateau. The display of apathy by the security forces in containing this massive destruction of lives and property has encouraged the perpetuation of such heinous crimes.
We recall that many communities in Plateau State have come under never-ending attacks by killer herdsmen in the past, especially in the last few days. It is on record that no fewer than 65 villages and towns in the state have been sacked and till today, there is no genuine effort deployed to chase away invaders that are presently occupying these sacked communities.
Before now, several communities in Irigwe land have come under assaults, leading to the killing of no fewer than 70 people, while hundreds of houses and large swathes of farmlands destroyed. Strangely, even after these vicious attacks that have turned these communities into killing fields, the security forces have remained awfully silent and inactive in bringing these criminals to justice.
Considering the circumstances surrounding the weekend killings involving travellers that were said to be returning to Ekiti and Ondo states, after attending an Islamic function in Bauchi, there is the need for the security agencies to investigate the incident with a view to establishing the real identities of these slain travellers and those behind these killings.
While the controversy over what route the slain travellers may continue unabated, the MBF condemns the quick identification of victims and the alleged perpetrators of these crimes. With the Irigwe Development Association (IDA) disassociating itself from the attack, it is imperative that searchlights be beamed on other areas in order to unearth the truth.
We wish to call on the security agencies to find out where these travellers were coming from. Initially, the police had disclosed that the slain travellers hailed from Ekiti and Ondo State, but it was later discovered that they were Fulani, with not a single Yoruba man. Was one of the vehicles in the convoy carrying a large cache of arms? Where were the travellers headed for and from where were they coming from? How could the Irigwe youths, as claimed by the Police, could be engaged in mourning and burying the dead and at the same time perpetrating bedlam against travellers?
We condemn the weekend killings in Jos and call on relevant security agencies in the country to embark on a thorough enquiry of the incident with a view to identifying the perpetrators of this heinous attack. It is unfortunate that a Bauchi-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, called on the government to do something or risk a reaction. Unfortunately, the Sheikh’s remarks must be seen as a veiled threat that has the capacity to inflame passion which could lead to something more tragic than the one witnessed on Saturday. Security agencies in the country should pay close attention to such threats and hold the Islamic cleric responsible in case there is breach of security.
There is no denying the fact that the government has demonstrated worrisome hiatuses leading to the tragic weekend event. A government determined to maintain law and order should have worked round the clock to give these monsters a bloody nose and stave off further mayhem being unleashed on communities on the Plateau. As men, women and children were massacred by these killer herdsmen, the ominous silence by security forces clearly pointed out a lackluster disposition by the government in combating terror attacks on vulnerable people.
Beyond various discordant tunes that are making rounds over the killings, the Federal Government must do everything within its power to unearth the real perpetrators of the carnage. Nigeria is cascading into a fearsome valley of uncertainties and not a few Nigerians are thinking that our security forces are only interested in protecting only a particular group to the detriment of others.