…says 87 villages destroyed, annexed by herdsmen
At least 1,801 people were killed, while 50,212 others were displaced from their ancestral homes in the recent attacks on communities in Plateau State. The Committee on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), set up by the state government, disclosed this yesterday while presenting its report to Governor Simon Lalong in Jos.
The Chairman of the Committee, Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Bala Danbaba (rtd), said the committee identified 115 communities, cutting across Jos North, Jos South, Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Bokkos local government areas, that were affected by the crises. Chairman, Northern States Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Dr. Yakubu Pam, is a member of the committee. Danbaba said the committee, whose one-month period was later increased to two months, received 55 memoranda and visited 27 camps where the IDPs were quartered. He said: “The only IDPs’ camp we did not visit was the one at Lere in the Dorowa area of Barkin Ladi Local Government. We could not go there because of security reasons.
“The committee also visited all the affected communities for an on-the-spot assessment. “The committee also identified 87 villages and farmlands that were destroyed and, in most cases, annexed by Fulani herdsmen in the five local government areas.” The chairman said the committee had recommended that the IDPs be returned to their ancestral homes, saying that the exercise should be carried outin four phases. He said: “The committee also emphasised the provision of adequate security in the affected areas.” Danbaba added that the IDPs were willing and anxious to return to their homes, if security was guaranteed. The chairman suggested that a victim support programme be initiated to reduce their sufferings. The committee also called for the establishment of temporary camps within the victims’ communities, for them to live in, while their houses were being reconstructed. After receiving the report, Lalong commended the committee for carrying out a good job, and announced that the sevenman committee would be responsible for its implementation.
The governor reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to securing lives and property, and condemned insinuations that the state and Federal Governments were doing nothing to end the crises. He said: “Things might be slow, but in the spirit of ‘slowly, but surely,’ as well as patience; we have been able to make some phenomenal achievements in ensuring that peace returns and is sustained. “As some of our strategic initiatives in engendering peace and security in the state, this administration attracted the establishment of the 205 Combat and Rescue Units in Kerang. “We also attracted a Mobile Police Squadron in Shendam, as well as the recent approval to establish Mobile Police Barracks in Gashish District of Barkin Ladi. “All these are in addition to procurement and distribution of security vehicles, equipped with modern communication gadgets.”
Lalong also said that he had approved the recruitment and training of neighbourhood watch personnel who had been attached to Operation Rainbow for community policing and intelligence gathering. The governor also said his administration would study the report and release the white paper for immediate implementation. He said: “I assure you of government’s resolve to study the report and release the white paper for immediate implementation in the spirit of integrity, accountability and transparency in leadership.” Lalong urged all citizens to avoid unnecessary incitement and spreading of false information that could further give wrong impression as if nothing is being done to address the plight of the victims and the citizens. He added: “I wish to thank all spirited individuals and organisations for the support given to the IDPs and to let all the IDPs know that as a government, we truly share in the burden of their challenges, we are not relenting on our efforts and, God willing, it will be a thing of the past.”
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