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Plateau killings: Soldiers can’t stop armed herdsmen but can intercept Indian hemp – HURIWA alleges systematic genocide

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has wondered why soldiers of the division 3 of the Nigerian Army are folding their hands and watching Fulani herdsmen carry out heinous crimes in Plateau State.

The human rights organisation raised alarm of alleged systematic genocide in the State, while calling the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General, Faruk Yahaya to carry out a quick and transparent investigation to unravel how come soldiers at the Division 3 stood by and let armed Fulani herdsmen carry out systematic massacre of Christians in their villages hosting the division, while military personnel somewhere in South West under the Ibadan Military division were vigilant enough to effectively intercept large consignments of Indian Hemp.

The Rights group said something was not right about the misplacement of priority by the Nigeria Army if operatives on ground would watch helplessly as armed non state actors launch attacks against a set of Nigerians without carrying out the most important job of preventing the breakdown of law and order but if the victims make effort to resist the attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen it is only then that the military will spring into action to stop what they will then term as reprisals.

HURIWA urged Faruk Yahaya to set up properly constituted board of investigators to interrogate the commanders of the Jos, Kaduna divisions of the Nigerian Army for refusing to give lawful order for the men and officers of the Nigerian Army to prevent the massive scale of premeditated killings carried out and still being carried out in Southern Kaduna and Plateau State.

The Rights group said the Chief of Army staff should guard jealously his avowed resolve to abide by the rule of law and respect the Constitutionally guaranteed Human Rights of Nigerians as he has stated in some of his earlier public statements.

“HURIWA is once more restating our position as committed patriots to provide all the necessary support that the brand new Army Chief will need to succeed especially in the area of expanding the frontiers of dialogues between the Army and the Civil Society for the promotion, protection and advancement of the Fundamental Human Rights of the citizens including the rights of the serving personnel of the Army,” the group said in a statement signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf.

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“However, the minimal benchmark should be for the Nigerian Army to be a truly Nigerian Army that protects every Nigerian irrespective of Ethnicity and religion in compliance absolutely with the clear mandates and functions specified for the Army in the GrundNorm of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).

“HURIWA is yet to come to terms with the contradictory roles played by the officers and operatives of the Nigerian Army going by the reports that soldiers of the 32 Artillery Brigade have intercepted 132 bags of Indian hemp worth N5.8m.

“As learnt, the bags were intercepted separately at Omotosho military checkpoint on Benin-Ore Highway and Owo in Owo local government area.

“According to media reports the 82 bags of hemp being conveyed by drug lords were abandoned in two Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), a Toyota Sequoia marked APP918FA and a Sequoia marked FST169BW.

“The drug lords were said to have fled into the bush and abandoned their wares.At Owo, two suspects dressed in police camouflage were allegedly caught with 50 bags of Indian hemp at Isua military checkpoint. HURIWA gathered from news report that the suspected drug traffickers were said to be on their way to deliver the goods to one Seriki in Abuja.

“Officer Commanding, Military Police, Emontimi Konte Cleopas, said the suspects wore masks and were dressed in police pullover and drove a vehicle with a fake police number.

“We in HURIWA are by this media alert asking the ebullient Army Chief of Nigeria Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya if this is the Constitutional role of soldiers. Sir please tell Nigerians why soldiers in Plateau State will permit genocidal killings of Christians but the same soldiers in the South West are busy chasing after Indian hemp dealers,” the group said.

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HURIWA said it was miffed and shocked that whereas the primary duty of the Nigerian Army as would be shown below amongst others is to prevent internal insurrection, insurgency, terrorism such as the wanton killings of Nigerians by well armed Fulani militia, “the Army in Plateau State were only a whisper away and infact they were reportedly seconds away from the marauding armed terrorists who invaded the vicinity of communities hosting the 3rd Armoured Division of the largest Army in Africa but these soldiers stood by and were only spectators whilst the killers had a field day.”

The Rights group said “the same scenario is still happening often in Southern Kaduna as we speak with the First Division of the Nigerian Army, the Army formations in Kachia and Kafanchan doing nothing whilst the well armed Fulani killer squads go from village to Village in parts of Southern Kaduna to carry out killings.”

It said it was shameful that the Defence Spokesman stays in Abuja and try to defend the General Officer Commanding the Third Division in Jos when it is evidently clear that armed marauders invaded communities next to the Headquarters of the Division and embarked on house to house killings of Christians in Plateau State.

HURIWA added that “what has happened in Plateau and Southern Kaduna are acts of State sponsored terrorism because in the case of Plateau State the paramount ruler of Irigwe ethnic nationality in Plateau State, His Royal Highness, The Bra Ngwe Irigwe, Rt Rev Ronku Aka, had lamented the tragedy that befell his people in the Bassa Local Government Area following the recent invasion of their communities by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.”

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The group quoted the monarch as saying that “some security operatives who were deployed in the communities during the attacks told the residents they had no instruction to repel the invaders. The monarch stated this when the President of the Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Rev Gideon Para-Mallam, led other officials of the non-governmental organisation on a sympathy visit to his palace in Miango.”

The Rights group said it was incongruous and grossly insensitive and unconstitutional on the part of whomsoever spoke for the Military “by shutting up the mouths of the victims of these massive scale of terror and violence unleashed by armed Fulani herdsmen in Plateau State and parts of Southern Kaduna State.

“The appropriate step is for the Chief of Army staff to constitute investigative panels to visit these communities and get first hand information on how soldiers betrayed their people and let them down instead of the General Officer Commanding 3rd Division to start dishing out propaganda materials denying these huge body of allegations against his administration.”

HURIWA said what the GOCs are doing by allegedly allowing systematic genocides being carried out by armed Fulani herdsmen contravened the Constitution.

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