This Day (Lagos)

10 July 2012

Nigeria: Plateau Assembly Demands Troops Withdrawal

As more reactions trailed Sunday's killing of a senator and member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, the state legislature yesterday accused the Federal Government of failing in its duty to protect the people of the state and demanded that it should withdraw troops deployed in the state.

The House, at an emergency session in honour of its Majority Leader, Hon Gyang Fulani, who died along with the Senator Gyang Dantong, representing Plateau North Senatorial District, described the incident as the hallmark of the Federal Government's serial failure since 2010 when it took over the security of the state.

A third lawmaker, Hon. Simon Mwadkwon of the House of Representatives, who escaped death along with the Chairman, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel Lomang, also told the state Governor, Chief Jonah Jang, how he escaped death and how Dantong and Fulani died.

House Deputy Speaker, Hon. Johnbull Shekarau, who presided, while rounding off contributions by his colleagues, said the Federal Government should withdraw the troops to allow Jang, whom the constitution designates as the state chief security officer, to mobilise the people to defend themselves.

Condolences and condemnations have also been coming from top political leaders and religious organisations over the weekend bloodbath in the state.

Among those who reacted to the violence in the state were Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Enugu State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

At the emergency session of the House yesterday, the lawmakers, all dressed in black attire, expressed their regrets over the continued deterioration of security in the state.

Members, including Hon Istifanus Muansat, Hon. Timothy Golu, Hon Gondina Musa Sambo and Hon Sa'adat Garga took their turns to condemned the violence in the state and to pay tributes to the deceased persons.

Hon Zaina Dogo urged the National Assembly to summon President Goodluck Jonathan to ask him to tell Nigerians why he has failed to protect citizens of this country.

Rounding off the contributions, Shekarau said: "We have resolved as a House that Mr. President owe us explanation and he should come out and tell Nigerians what is going on. We have also resolved that this House is demanding for a state police because it is obvious the federal police have failed woefully. We are also demanding immediate withdrawal of soldiers from the streets of Plateau and return the responsibility of securing of citizens to the governor of the state who is the chief security officer of the state."

Mwadkwon, while receiving Jang at an undisclosed hospital where he is being treated, said the Dantong and Fulani slumped and died later from exhaustion because the attack forced them down a steep area and they fell down several times as every person tried to escape the intense firing from the attackers.

Mwatkon also said he had established that there is an Al-Qaida base in Riyom Local Government, Area just as he accused soldiers of aiding the attacks on the villages.

As the condolence poured in, Chime who commiserated with the leadership of the National Assembly and the Plateau State Government over the killing of Dantong and Fulani, expressed shock and dismay at the incident.

Ihedioha also expressed sadness at the violence and killings in the state over the weekend, noting that the only way out of the perennial crisis is to use the ongoing constitution review to resolve the indigene-settler controversy in the state.

Ekweremadu and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki, joined other Nigerians in mourning Dantong.

While Ekweremadu described Dantong's assassination as "brutal and awful", Saraki said it was "a rude shock."

"This is one of the saddest moments of my life. I have lost a friend and the nation, especially the Senate, has lost a consummate lawmaker in a most shameful circumstance, " Ekweremadu said.

Saraki, who is also a member of the Senate Health Committee, which Dantong headed, said: "All stakeholders must join force to bring to an end incessant killing of Nigerians, all hands must be joined together to bring peace back to our beloved country."

Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, described Dantong's death as another manifestation of what he called "casual and senseless shedding of blood in the country which has drained Nigerians of their humanity."

Atiku, in a statement, said the fresh orgy of killings in Plateau State would complicate the country's insecurity crisis, adding that he was deeply disturbed by seeming descent to anarchy. He condoled with the government and the people of Plateau State, the Senate and the families of all the deceased.

A former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu called on President Goodluck Jonathan to use the full powers of the president to protect Nigerians from incessant killings.

Chuks Okocha, Kunle Akogun, Tobi Soniyi, Onwuka Nzeshi, Muhammad Bello in Abuja, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu and John Shiklam in Kaduna

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