Plateau killings: Lalong cautions against rush to bail suspects

Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has warned against any rush to bail suspects of the Aug. 14 killings along Rukuba road in Jos, and other attacks in the state

The governor spoke on Tuesday at an emergency peace and security stakeholders meeting held in Jos.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the meeting focused on the August 14 incident and other attacks in Bassa, Jos South, Barkin ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas.

“The rush to bail suspects of unrest when arrested for investigation frustrates efforts to find lasting solution to insecurity in Plateau. Henceforth, people rushing to bail suspects will also be arrested.

“If you find them, please arrest them; if people rush to bail them, arrest them,” he said .

He said that such action would deter people fond of bailing suspects of unrest, alleging that such gestures implied that most of them were either sponsors or accomplices to such crimes.

He said that the meeting with critical stakeholders comprising former governors, political leaders, elders, traditional and community leader, was to seek their views on measures to end the cycle of violence in Plateau.

Lalong held that the insecurity, particularly in some local governments, required concerted efforts toward lasting peace.

“We cannot afford to fail the upcoming generation by refusing to do the needful,” he declared.

He decried the misuse of the social media by people out to worsen an already bad situation through the massive spread of fake and unsubstantiated videos and messages.

“Such fake messages only ignite further attacks.

“I have directed the security agencies to go after such persons and ensure they faced the law for incitement and hate speech,” he said

He also urged religious leaders and other stakeholders holders not to incite their followers with their sermons or comments on insecurity, noting that they (clerics) were also guided by the constitution.

“In future, defaulters will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law,” he said.

Lalong banned any form of protest in the state, explaining that Plateau was experiencing a sensitive period where such attempts could degenerate to insecurity.

He expressed concern that the state was experiencing insecurity when it was struggling to come out of the economic downturn turn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and when investors had started showing interest in investing in it.

The Secetary to the State Government, Prof Danladi Atu, who addressed newsmen at the end of a closed-door session, said that stakeholders recommended prompt arrest and decisive punishment of suspected perpetrators of attacks, through diligent prosecution.

The meeting also recommended the strengthening of community policing, structures for intelligence gathering and early warning.

It also recommended payment of compensation to victims of various crises and rehabilitation of displaced persons.

“Continous dialogue and engagement among various communities and conflict groups through the facilitation of the Peace Building Agency and the Inter-religous Council was also recommended,” he added.

He said the stakeholders also recommended more involvement of traditional rulers in governance, as well as stiff action against religious, community and traditional leaders preaching hate or inciting people to violence.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by Lalong’s predecessor, Sen. Jonah Jang, Chairman of the Plateau Council of Chiefs and Emirs, Da Jacob Buba, among others. (NAN)