The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has blamed the elite and elders in Plateau for encouraging the spate of violence the State has been experiencing.
General Buratai’s statement was presented by Maj. Gen. Augustine Agundu on October 3rd at the funeral of three soldiers who were recently killed in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on September 6, 2018.
The Army chief stated that “the actions or inactions of the elders can be classified as one of the contributory sources that has rather emboldened the youths to maim and kill innocent passers-by at their whims and caprices.” He added that human dignity had “lost its value on the Plateau.”
General Buratai also stated that it is has become evident that there are armed ethnic militia groups “sponsored or supported by some elite and elders” who are responsible for committing “heinous crimes.” Buratai said that while the constitution does not allow civilians to bear firearms, the possession of firearms “has become a well sort-out vocation here in the Plateau.”
Meanwhile, the Special Task Force led by Maj. General Agundu has arrested a total of 72 people who were alleged to have been involved in the recent crisis in Jos. General Agundu mentioned that out of the 72 arrested, 30 had confessed to their crimes.
General Buratai’s accusations are perhaps not unfounded. Just last week, it was reported that the vehicle that was driven by a missing retired army officer, Maj. General I.M. Alkali, was found in a mining pond in Jos. Since then, several other vehicles have been pulled out of the pond and a burnt human body has also been found out at the site.
There are theories that some members of the community knew what was to be found in the pond hence the protest against the military’s interest in searching the pond. Whether or not the claims are true, it is worth investigating how and why several vehicles and a dead human body have ended up in a mining pond.
However, if the Army’s main response to a crisis that has gone on for this long is to point fingers at others, then it is missing the point. What happened to its own intelligence? Why are these elders not being apprehended and the crimes stopped in their tracks?
Also, a one-dimensional look at so-called elders is escapism. There are several other contributory factors – from government’s inactions to climatic reasons and even religion in some cases responsible for the conflicts. The Army needs to show that it is aware of all these.
Bodies are still piling in Jos, Nigerians are counting on the Army and the government to put a stop to it sometime soon.