Over three days, between December 23 and Christmas Day, terrorists went on a killing spree across several communities in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Wase Local Government Areas of Plateau State. At the end of the carnage, the Red Cross disclosed that 154 deaths were recorded in Bokkos and Barkin Local Government Areas.
In addition, the Plateau State Police Command revealed that 96 people were killed in Wase Local Government Area. There is no official tally yet of the number of people killed in Mangu Local Government Area. According to the records of the Police Command, 300 people were estimated to have been injured, while 221 worship centres and houses were destroyed. At the last count, about 10,000 people in the affected areas are now refugees.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, NAS/PC, condemns these latest mindless killings in Plateau State and elsewhere. We are in solidarity with victims of these terrorists’ attacks and we join all people of good conscience who seek justice across the world to demand justice for victims of the murderous attacks in North-Central and other parts of Nigeria. We deeply regret the humanitarian crisis that has been created as a result of this unmitigated bloodletting in Plateau State. We therefore urge support for the authorities and civil society groups helping to support our afflicted compatriots.
Unambiguously, the latest carnage in Plateau has once again exposed the negligence and ineptitude that perennially afflicts Nigeria’s security architecture especially the centrally-controlled policing system. It beggars belief that in the face of different joint security teams in Plateau State set-up to checkmate the nefarious activities of criminal elements from unleashing havoc on lives and properties did not deter the rampaging marauders would operate unhindered for three straight days without being restrained or interdicted by our security forces. Also, extremely disturbing is the fact that days after the orgy of violence no arrest has been made. This is clearly a symptom of a failing state!
In a May 31 2021 Foreign Affairs article entitled: ‘The Giant of Africa is Failing’, political scientist, Robert Rotberg and former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell writing on Nigeria opined: “If a state’s first obligation to those it governs is to provide for their security and maintain a monopoly on the use of violence, then Nigeria has failed, even if some other aspects of the state still function. Criminals, separatists, and Islamist insurgents increasingly threaten the government’s grip on power, as do rampant corruption, economic malaise, and rising poverty”.
Indeed, all these characteristics of absence of government are being manifested in present day Nigeria. Not only has rampant corruption crippled every facet of life, Nigerians have since lost the battle to poverty with about 133 million Nigerians already multidimensionally poor, while economic malaise has dragged several Nigerians into depression and destitution. In the midst of these horrendous state of affairs, rampaging criminals continue to unleash violence and mass murder unchecked by those paid with taxpayers’ money to protect the country from within and without.
Sadly, during the eight years of former President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians endured his habitual aloofness and irresponsible acquiescence to the spate of violence being perpetrated across the country. Aside from his occasional and verbal outrage after each blood-curling debauchery by criminal elements there was no concrete action taken to demonstrate that the life of a Nigerian mattered to the government.
This unfortunately, is the same path, the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidency appears to be treading. In a 2023 Nigeria Security Report by Beacon consulting, a security management risk and consulting company, released 10 days before the Plateau massacre, 5,060 people have been reportedly killed across Nigeria, while 2,263 people have been abducted on the watch of President Tinubu. These wanton killings and kidnappings are provocative enough to rouse any serious administration from its deep slumber and nudge it to reboot its security apparatus for optimum efficiency. The Tinubu Presidency is yet to prove to Nigerians that it is capable of performing the all-important constitutionally duty of protecting lives and property.
We urge President Tinubu to roll up his sleeves and take proactive steps to deal with the wanton acts of constant brutality once and for all.. His condemnations of terrorist’s attacks and what is gradually becoming perfunctory directives to security agencies to interdict future attacks are not enough. The rudderless nature of his predecessor must not be the hallmark of his administration.
It is no longer reasonable to ignore the age-long herders/farmers’ tussle for land which is at the root cause of the violence in Plateau State. President Tinubu should as matter of urgency summon the political will to convene a sincere and frank discussion with all stakeholders to resolve this intractable conflict which has turned Plateau into a theatre of war. All avenues to return peace to Plateau State should be explored with all sense of responsibility.
Before his ascendancy to the Presidency, he has been an advocate for true federalism which has as an integral part, the issue of state Police. His argument on the evolution of federalism in 2020 when the South-West governors led by the late governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, established Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Operation Amotekun, should come to play. President Tinubu should stay true to the course of true federalism. He should without any further hesitation accelerate the constitutional amendments to accommodate State and local policing with the active collaboration of the Traditional rulers to tackle insecurity in Nigeria.
We implore President Tinubu as the Commander-in-Chief to gird his loins and live up to expectations. Though it is commendable that Vice-President Kashim Shettima was in Plateau to commiserate with the people, this is not sufficient strategy for a traumatised people seeking justice. They need a roadmap to reassure them that their government is capable of protecting them from killers. They yearn for a government that brings its full weight to crush terrorists. A time like this mandates that genuine leadership sends a strong signal to terrorists with its actions that the state has the capacity and willingness to neutralise them.
The conduct of Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State thus far has been disappointing thereby sending the wrong signals of his capability to govern the state. He should stop displaying an attitude of helplessness and feckless surrender. His decision to join the Christmas voyage by State Governors to visit President Tinubu in Lagos while the hapless people in Plateau are in deep grief are symptoms of an unserious leader and represents the height of misplaced priority.
We advocate that Mr Muftwang should consider the setting up of a state security outfit across all the local governments areas to complement the efforts of security agencies in gathering intelligence to fight insurgency in the state. He and his colleagues in North-Central states should take a cue from Amotekun in the South-West region which has greatly helped to fight kidnapping in the region, to end the siege on Plateau and other North-Central states of Benue and Niger by terrorists. We expect Mr Muftwang to lead this initiative, he can no longer abdicate his responsibility by pleading helplessness.
The killings in Plateau State have gone on for far too long, it is time to put an end to it.