By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
A peace advocacy group, Coalition of Plateau Peace Practitioners Network (COPPPN), has commended the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) and other security outfits for curtailing the recent attack in Irigwe Community of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
COPPPN in a press release said OPSH played a major role in the violence it described as not only barbaric and senseless but also uncivilized.
The press release on Monday signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Daniel Babale Andruwus and National Secretary, Mrs Lucy Nyami, respectively called on the affected people to support the peace efforts of the Plateau State Governor.
COPPPN faulted claim of Irigwe Development Community that the attack was a genocide of Operation Safe Haven in connivance with herdsmen alleged to be perpetrators.
“We write to condemn in the strongest terms the barbaric senseless and uncivilized attacks, and reprisal between suspected Fulani herdsmen and Irigwe militias groups in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, which led to the death of some persons and burning down of houses.
“This act is sad and retrogressive. Our hearts go to the families of those who lost their lives and properties in this unfortunate incident,” the statement said.
The group added: “We also wish to strongly commend the security agencies especially officers and men of operations safe OPSH for the selfless and professional conduct during and after this sad incident otherwise several deaths and more destruction of property would have been recorded.”
It further said: “This is the kind of prompt and unbiased response we need from security agencies that is entrusted with our security.
“Information available to us indicate that if not for the prompt response of men of Operation Safe Haven, the casualty figure of this needless attack and this reprisal attack would have been alarming.
“We call on the security agencies to immediately investigate and apprehend these criminals.
“We, however, wish to caution some individuals, organizations, tribal and religious bigots as well as some crises merchants who rather than speak the truth in times like this as the only way to douse tension and put this age- long crisis to rest would rather be criminalizing only one group of people as the aggressors, and blaming our security agencies for their own act.
“This sentimental and emotional acts will never promote peace and harmony because even God we claim to serve hate lies.”
According to the group, “Rather than blame the security agencies for the obvious criminal acts of some of our very few indigenous youths, we should channel this energy to reforming this deviant youths who always hide under the umbrella of tribal groups and warriors to perpetrate criminal acts for their selfless interests.”
“As a professional group, we will not take side with any group or persons no matter the sentiments and emotions. We will continue to speak the whole truth so that peace can reign.
“We are not trying to hold brief for anyone but setting the records straight,” it added.
It questioned: “Where were all these organizations and individuals blaming the herdsmen and security agencies when over 310 Fulani cattle were rustled and three Fulani young men killed in Irigwe land some weeks ago? Why were they quiet during this injustice? Where were they when another 77 cattle belonging to Fulani herdsmen and 24 year old boy killed in Kwall District in Bassa ? Why was silent golden for our tribal association?”
It alleged that, “Only about one week ago, another 22- year Fulani boy was killed and beheaded again, yet our association kept quiet.”
According to the Coalition of Plateau Peace Practitioners Network, “The only way genuine peace can be achieved is only when we speak the whole truth, call a spade a spade no matter who is involved.”
“Our community leaders from all sides must take responsibility of their youths and hand over the criminal to the security agencies otherwise we will continue to go round this cycle of violence and crisis,” it advised.
It noted that, “When these criminals strike, it’s the innocent women and children that suffer”, adding: “What happened in Bassa two days ago is a clear case of criminal attack and attendant reprisal from both warring groups”, warning that “this most stop.”
The coalition said, “Instead of telling blatant and shameless lies against the security agencies and the Government who did their best to contain these attacks, we should commend them while we speak to our criminal elements to stop taking laws into their hands.”
“We, therefore, appeal to our people to see the Army and all the security agencies as our national assets. We should desist from always trying to attach fault in their operations because of the tribal and religious inclinations of those deployed for operations,” it further advised.