By DEBORAH MUSA, Abuja
The Coalition of Plateau State Advocates (COPSA), has condemned in strong terms the renewed call in some quarters for the redeployment of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division of the Nigerian Army in Jos, Plateau State, Major General IS Ali, in the face of recent killings in some communities.
Recall that at least 22 people were killed and 14 others injured during an attack on commuters along the Rukuba road in Jos North Local Government Area (LGA), on August 14, 2021.
While the State Government and security operatives were unravelling the circumstances that precipitated the incident, gunmen invaded yelwan Zangam Community in Jos North Local Government , killing over thirty people, and razing houses.
The tensed security situation compelled the Plateau State House of Assembly to issue a two-week ultimatum to the Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, to bring perpetrators of the heinous act to Justice, while restoring general order.
Describing the clamour for the removal of the GOC, who also doubles as Commander, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH, as unwarranted and unnecessary, considering the untiring efforts he is making to contain insecurity on the Plateau and his AOR, the indigenous coalition urged stakeholders to preach the gospel of peace in their respective communities, while encouraging the youths to eschew violent tendencies and hate.
The coalition said it was compelled to intervene at this time, because a well-regarded group, the Coalition of Plateau Ethnic youths Nationalities, had joined in the fray.
The COPSA, in a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Rev Elisha Gyang, and National Secretary, Dr. Stephen Gya, said rather than use the GOC as scapegoat, leaders and stakeholders should accept responsibility for what is happening in Plateau State, while making conscious efforts aimed at addressing the security chalenges besetting the North Central state.
The group also warned against profiling of any sort, insisting that criminals existed in all territories, hence efforts must be intensified towards identifying, and reporting them to the military and other security agencies, for prosecution.
While not holding brief for any group of nationality, the coalition reminded indigenes and residents of Plateau, that the state of insecurity predated the appointment of Gen. Ali as Commander of the military task force, OPSH.
“We are, therefore, worried that this call has continued unabated, despite the fact that the state had contended with similar security challenges, before the posting of Major General Ali, who is a fine, officer and a gentleman , whose strategy of combining kinetic and non-kinetic approaches, has continued to yield appreciable results”, the statement said.
Accordingly, the group has urged the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Faruq Yahaya, not to be swayed by this selfish calls for the removal of Gen. Ali, which they described as largely emotional.
The statement reads: “Our hearts go to the Government of Plateau State, family members, and friends of victims of the recent attacks on some communities.
“That said, we want to condemn in the strongest terms calls by some people for the redeployment of the gallant and hard-working GOC 3 Division, who is also the head of the military task force, Operation Safe Haven.
“We are particularly miffed that a respected body like the Coalition of Plateau Ethnic youths Nationalities, will allow itself to be used in this ungodly campaign against a detribalised senior officer such as the OPSH commander.
“May we seize this opportunity to warn sponsors of this campaign to turn a new leaf, or have us and other patriotic, peace-loving indigenes to contend with.
“While not justifying any attack in our communities, we make bold to say that as peace practitioners, who are on ground, we owe the people the duty to say that, until we caution our youths against criminality peace will remain elusive.
“The unfortunate Miango killing by some criminal herdsmen, is regrettable, and should be condemned by all those who seek peace on the Plateau.
“However, we consider it inappropriate to politicise the ugly development, as some disgruntled elements are bent on doing; a move that must be resisted fiercely.
“We note with concern the call for the arrest of some Islamic clerics said to have made some inciting statements over the Rukuba road killings. As a peace advocacy group in the state,we see this call as not only bias but also one sided because clerics of different religious beliefs are known to have make such remarks in the past,”the peace advocacy group said.
it added:”We support the arrest of anyone who made comments or actions that’s capable of breaching peace, We however insist that it must cut across all religion, because we have credible evidence that some notable pastors in Plateau also made inciting statements on video recently. Where they advise their members to take laws into their hands.
“We call on the Coalition to emulate us by initiating the process of healing and preaching peace among our people, rather than sowing seeds of discord, as well as chasing shadows.
“Lastly, we call on the Chief of Army Staff to rebuff calls for the redeployment of OPSH commander, as our investigations so far revealed that, all the allegations levelled him are spurious, unfounded, and sponsored by enemies of peace”.