Following the massacre of over 100 people in three local government areas of Plateau State last weekend, strong indications emerged Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari may overhaul the country's security apparatus.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who gave a hint of possible reorganisation of the country's security architecture without giving details, said the president was putting in place enough security measures meant to prevent a repeat of such magnitude of violence.
Both Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki met with Buhari Wednesday before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House over the Plateau State tragedy.
State governors also met Wednesday in Abuja over the situation in Plateau State and decided to send a delegation to the state Friday to condole with the victims of the strife.
Dogara, who expressed grave concerns over the rampant spate of violent activities ravaging the country, advised various states and communities affected by the menace to invest in peace building initiatives from the level of traditional rulers to the government.
Dogara said: "The president has taken enough steps. These are security issues. Security matters are not what you can discuss. But we've been briefed on all he's doing, the reorganisation, the plans he's putting in place to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
"My advice to our people, not to just the people of Plateau State, but in Benue, Kaduna, Zamfara, so many communities in this country faced with this situation especially in the North, I think the issue of security, in communities, living peacefully, must be taken as a project that each level must invest in, whether as traditional rulers, community leaders, whether we are government, from councillor to chairman, to the government and all strata of the society, we must invest in peace building because that is the only way we can live in secured communities and ensure that we have progress as a country."
The speaker, who said Nigeria must not lose the battle against violence, stated further that once the battle against violence was lost, the country could no longer lay any claim to civilisation.
He recalled the degree of devastation to the North-east by Boko Haram insurgents, warning that such tragic experience must not be replicated in all parts of the country.
Describing this period as a moment of sober reflection, Dogara said he was in the State House with Saraki to commiserate with the president, the people and government of Plateau State over the Plateau massacre.
Also speaking, Saraki said they had visited the State House to take briefings from Buhari on the steps the federal government had taken so far and how they could be involved in efforts to find a solution to the menace.
According to him, the president briefed them on updates on the development including the steps he's taking to restore sanity to the system and emphasised the need for all to cooperate with one another with a view to putting the menace under control.
Saraki, who said both of them would also visit Plateau State to commiserate with both the government and people of the state, appealed to Nigerians to embrace living in peace and harmony.
He said: "Following the unfortunate incident that happened in Plateau, myself and the speaker came to see the president, first to commiserate and to see what we can do collectively, and how we can give our own support to address the issue on the ground and get a briefing from him on the steps he has taken so far and if there is anything we can do on our part to support so that we can also play our own part.
"He's given us the briefing and we will all work towards it and we'll ensure that we all work together. Nobody is happy with the situation and we all need to work together and of course, to see that we commiserate with the families affected."
However, the Senate president, who after the meeting with the president left for Jos, called on the nation's security agencies to, as a matter of urgency, fish out the perpetrators of the massacre.
Saraki while condoling with Governor Simon Lalong during the visit, said it was high time the security agencies came together to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
According to the Senate president in a statement signed by his spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the security agencies must ensure that those responsible for the killings are quickly apprehended to help bring an end to killings in the state.
He said: "We must also ensure that all those who are responsible for these killings must account for it. It is part of providing succour and ensuring the peace. You cannot bring back the lives, but finding and prosecuting the perpetrators will go a long way in helping to calm people and ease the pain that they are going through.
"Therefore, yet again, we call on our security agents to ensure that they find the perpetrators that have done this and make them account for their detestable actions."
Saraki also stated that working towards peace in the state and Nigeria as a whole, must remain the primary responsibility of all Nigerians.
Middle Belt Forum Calls for Arrest of Miyetti Allah Leaders
Meanwhile, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has called on the federal government to arrest leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
The call came as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Wednesday said 218 persons were killed during the crisis, against 86 reported by the police.
MBF said that with the leadership of Miyetti explaining the criminal act, there should be no delay on the part of government in arresting leaders of the association.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said the entire Middle Belt had been under siege for the past two decades, saying states like Southern Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Southern Borno and Plateau had been the theatres of an undeclared war.
The forum called on President Buhari to immediately direct arrest of the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and MACBAN for investigation and prosecution, and also immediately direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to set in motion the process for the proscription of these two organisations.
On its part, CAN said contrary to the police's report, 218 persons have been confirmed dead as a result of the crisis.
In a graphic presentation of those killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen, CAN President, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, explained that about 37 villages in Plateau State had been under constant attacks from suspected Fulani herdsmen in the last three months.
Listing the number of death, the CAN president named Gashish District, Nhyer - 80; Exland(G/Akwati) - 40; Ruku - 34, Kakuruk - six; Kuzen - five; totalling 165.
Others include, Ropp District: Gana Ropp - 34; Razat - one; Kwang Jot Near Gen. Hospital (Takwok) - one; Rakwok - two, totalling - 38.
In Bachi District: Shonong eight people were killed while Riyom District: Kwi recorded one; Heipang District: Chit Heipang two; Vwang District: K-Vom Vwang Jos South one (OPSH Killing); Zawan District: Anguldi - three (OPSH Killings), with grand total of 218 deaths.
"Apart from the total number of the deaths, there are still missing persons. Many people also sustained various degrees of injuries," CAN added.
The Christian group called on President Buhari to replace all the security chiefs and the IG, saying they had overstayed their welcome.
PDP Declares Seven-day Mourning
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, has declared a seven-day mourning for the victims of the gruesome killings, directing that its flags in all its offices and formation at all levels across the country be flown at half-mast during the period in honour of the victims.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party urged the people of Plateau State to exercise their rights as global citizens, work with other public-spirited Nigerians and groups and take President Buhari and his government to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague for acting helpless in the face of continuous mass killings in our country.
The PDP said: "The PDP firmly holds that the life of every Nigerian is sacred. All Nigerians must be protected whether they are Birom, Basange, Igbira, Tiv, Idoma, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani, Gbagyi, Yoruba or from any other tribe whatsoever.
"The fundamental duty of government all over the world is the protection of lives and we can no longer afford to continue to fold our hands while compatriots are daily hacked down by marauders."
Obasanjo Urges Govt to Identify Root Cause of Violence
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Wednesday visited Jos to commiserate with Lalong and the people over the recent killings, urging the federal and state governments to identity the root cause of insecurity and deal with it so that people would get reprieve from the incessant violence plaguing the land.
He said violence had escalated since he left office in 2007 but said he believed that solutions could still be found to address the challenges.
According to him, "I have suggested and I will say it again that we should find out the root cause of this problem and deal with it."
He said: "There must be remote and immediate cause, if we deal with it, we are not going to be multiplying condolence visits. I believe that any human problem has human solution; I do hope and plead with government at the federal level; those of you in states and even local government level to join hands even at the community level to find the causes and deal with them permanently.
"We offer our condolences to the bereaved families, all we can say is that God knows the best. Even in my time, we had problems but not in this magnitude, we thought we were dealing with them as at that time but the earlier we deal with it, the better. I believe we can find solution, we must find solution."
Responding, Lalong appreciated Obasanjo for coming to pay his condolence, stating, however, that a phone call from the former president would have sufficed.
"Insecurity is not new to me," he said, adding: "We thought we could handle it. When we came in, we quickly put up a team, including Berom and Fulani. They came out with a roadmap to proffer solutions, we adopted the recommendations and have implemented some and was in the process of implementing the remaining ones. We have done our best, we have learnt our lessons, and we will be very firm."
Youth Groups, Women Protest Killings
As the condolence visits were under way, a peaceful protest embarked upon by the youths and women wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) against the wanton killings was hijacked by hoodlums as it turned violent and protesters threw stones, damaging cars parked in the new Government House in Jos, as well as some office complexes.
The protesters, who had converged on the Old Airport junction and marched to the Government House, were initially prevented from entering to the premises but some climbed the fence, forcing security at the gate to eventually open it.
The situation turned violent when some of the protesters ran after the fleeing government officials, trying to stop them from leaving the premises.
When they failed to stop the fleeing officials, they turned violent, throwing stones and destroying cars and offices including the structure housing the office of the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, and Permanent Secretary, Government House and host of other top officials.
Military Arrests 17 Suspects
The Military Special Task Force in charge of security in the state Wednesday paraded 17 suspects allegedly connected to the multiple attacks on villages in Barkin Ladi.
Parading them at the OPSH headquarters in Jos, the Media Officer of the command, Major Adam Umar, said: "These suspects we are parading here were arrested in connection with last Saturday's attack in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on June 23, 2018.
"The suspects are in two categories; three of the suspects Yahuza, Friday and Ahmed were in connection to the attack in Barkin Ladi, and the other fourteen suspects are those arrested from the scene of protest and blockage of federal highways to protest the attack in Barkin Ladi."
Asked whether the three suspected gunmen have confessed to the crime, Major Umar said: "No, we have not got to that level, the investigation is still on, this is a security matter, they are already giving us useful information that may lead us to arrest more suspects linked to the attacks."
He said: "The three suspects that were arrested from the scene of attacks are Nigerians, they are not foreigners. The arms we arrested them with are also locally made guns including one AK-47 rifle. These suspects are not the only ones involved in the attacks, we are on the trail of others.
"We want to appeal to Nigerians to be patient and cooperative with us in our efforts to get the perpetrators of this killings, people should ignore rumours being circulated on the social media. We encourage the media to reach out to us and verify any rumour before they publish."