Jan 11, 2013
ARREST OF BEROM ATTACKERS:
PLATEAU STATE GOVT UNHAPPY WITH STF, BEROM WOMEN STAGE PROTEST IN DU
Following the press conference yesterday in which the Special Task Force (STF) paraded Berom suspects who were arrested as they were staging an attack on the mining settlement of Bisici Tuesday night, officials of the Plateau State government have expressed their disappointment with the STF for allowing the news of the arrest “to leak out to the public.” A number of newspapers have carried the story of the arrest which happened around Du, the governor’s home village.
According to an Abuja based newspaper, Blueprint (10 January 2013), “the soldiers stated that the suspected attackers, who were said to be of the Berom tribe, were in the area and shooting sporadically around Du, Bisici, and Shenabe villages until a distress call made to the STF by members of the Bisici community of Jos South local government area led to the arrest of the suspects.
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“Speaking to reporters on the incident at the STF headquarters in Jos yesterday while parading the suspects, the media and information officer of the task force, Captain Salisu Mustafa, said, “The suspects were arrested in four vehicles that include a Vento with registration number AH 454 BLD Plateau; Victra, AA 87 MLF Katsina; Mercedes Benz, EC 210 LND Lagos, and Honda, AG 718 Plateau.”
“He stated that an AK-47 rifle, an FN rifle, a submachine gun, a locally made short revolver, a locally made revolver, a bayonet, five handsets, Plateau State Polytechnic student identity card, a staff ID card of the Plateau State Basic Education Board, among other items, were recovered.
Though the news conference was attended by reporters from different media organization and the story of the attackers was reported in the local Nigeria Television Authority broadcast yesterday evening, the state owned Plateau Radio and Television decided not to air it because, as an insider put it, “it will cast the state government in bad image.”
However, in its 5pm news bulletin this evening, the state owned Plateau FM aired a story of the peaceful protest staged by women in Du district this morning demanding for the release of the armed youths. A Berom woman who spoke in Hausa was heard in the bulletin, saying, “Our youths went out to defend us when our village was attacked. Now they are arrested for defending themselves.”
The state government is trying hard to convince the STF that the arrested militants are members of its vigilante group. However, a source in the STF retorted that how could a vigilante group be armed with submachine gun, AK-47 and use passenger vehicles like Mercedes and Honda for its operations? This guys were caught red handed and they will face the music.”
A member of the Bisici community, Malam Yakubu Usaini, was reported by Blueprint as saying: “The Beroms have been trying to raid the Bisici community for long and we just heard them shooting on Tuesday night. We suspected it would happen because they have been calling for the removal of a military roadblock in the area… We know some of those arrested; there is even a community leader known as Mai Anguwa Akwan.”
Observers of the Jos crisis are sceptical on whether the STF would not bulge to the pressure from the state government given the way the government has succeeded in the past to frustrate all efforts at prosecuting Berom militants who were caught with even serious crimes like killing of unarmed civilians on federal highways. If the STF stick to its guns in this case, it will go along way to prove a semblance of impartiality in its peace keeping assignment on the Plateau.
The STF has for sometime been having some gun battles with Berom militants who are alleged to be training at Gyel, a village outside Bukuru from where rockets were fired in early August last year. On 31 December 2012, for example, there were exchange of fire between STF personnel and some Berom militants at Gyel Later in the day, an SMS was circulated claiming that the exchange was between STF and some Fulani who came to invade the village. On both occasions, the STF has not reported arresting anyone.
Meanwhile, Jos and its environs remain peaceful with businesses going on as usual.
Source: Ibrahim Waziri; Aliyu Tilde, FaceBook