About 72 suspects, including two women, have been arrested by the military in connection with the recent violence in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the Special Military Taskforce, codenamed Operation Safe Haven, has said.
The military unit also dismissed what it described as “media hype” about fake soldiers in Jos, saying, “there is no fake soldier going from door to door. The dexterity exhibited by soldiers was what marvelled the criminals.”
“Yes, there are some criminals in black attire perpetrating violence that had been arrested as you can see them here, but they are not soldiers,” the OPSH stated.
The Commander of OPSH, Maj. Gen. Augustine Agundu, while parading 27 suspects, in Jos on Wednesday evening, stated that although 72 persons were arrested, 30 had confessed to their crimes. While condemning what he described as the conspiracy of silence among the elders and elite going on in the state, he warned that the military would no longer tolerate any further attempt to attack the troops.
“But they (elders and elite) keep quiet. If they want to stop this act of violence and criminality, they can do so within a twinkle of an eye,” Agundu stated.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has blamed the elite and elders in Plateau State for stoking the incessant violence and clashes in the state.
The COAS, represented by Agundu, stated this on Wednesday during the burial ceremony of three soldiers that were recently killed in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on September 6, 2018.
He said, “It is evident that there exist armed ethnic militia groups sponsored or supported by some elite and elders who deploy the misguided youths into committing the worst of heinous crimes. There is certainly no constitutional provision that allows civilians to bear firearms. But their possession has become a well sort-out vocation here in the Plateau.”
According to him, the body language of the elite and elders, their action and inaction, have emboldened the youth to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.
Buratai said, “The OPSH effectively came into force on January 21, 2010, but the crises on the Plateau has lingered prior to the establishment of the operation with vulnerable persons bearing the brunt of the crises. In recent times, the bane of the crises has revolved around the total act of criminality by some unguided and irate youths, mostly under the influence of hard substances.
“It is evident that these youths are supported by a section of the elite/elders, while they have been unable to discourage them from violence, resulting in the absence of any tangible progress towards peace.”