How 13 people were killed in Plateau violence – Governor Lalong
The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, on Friday provided more information on the killing of 13 people in the state on Thursday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the killings which the police blamed on suspected herdsmen.
Mr Lalong, who spoke to journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said the attackers were cattle rustlers who had earlier been stopped by youth from the community.
“Our little investigations confirm that it was a group of cattle rustlers in a huge number that rustled over 100 cows. They were moving with them.
“We have also made appeal through the youths that whenever there is this kind of challenge, they should move in and see to arrest some of the criminals.
“Unfortunately, the youths came out, they did their best. In fact I will call them patriotic. They went in and stopped the rustlers from moving with the cows and were able to rescue about 100 cows at the end of the day.
“So after the rescue they were only able to arrest about three or four those people and took them to the police station and returned to their various villages.
“That early morning, some of those rustlers who escaped came back and started attacking and killing people in the villages. So it was quite unfortunate,” the governor said.
Read the full details of the responses by the Plateau governor below.
Lalong: I have just seen Mr President and there was also an attack early yesterday and up to the afternoon when I got there.
My seeing the President was to brief him because there are usually briefing from security, he usually has proper briefings from the chief security officer direct. From my own assessment of what has happened and if we want intervention of what we want to be done in the state to curtail the situation.
So, as a matter of fact we woke up yesterday early in the morning to get information that people were killing themselves in a village. So I didn’t waste time, I took off to that village. My timely intervention and presence helped a lot. Because, after the first set of killings, the second set was reprisals killings. So when I got there, everything stopped.
I spoke to the people, we buried the people and they understood with me and the place has remained calm, peace has been restore to that place.
Q: Is there any particular solution you are trying to find to end the killings which have been reoccurring?
Lalong: Well, if you know Plateau, we have settled this crisis in the state and we are enjoying our peace. But at times, when you get to this level, people forget that there was peace in the state. Christmas was well celebrated in the state, New Year was well celebrated in the state until this incident. Our little investigations confirm that it was a group of cattle rustlers in a huge number that rustled over 100 cows. They were moving with them. We have also made appeal through the youths that whenever there is this kind of challenge, they should move in and see to arrest some of the criminals. Unfortunately, the youths came out, they did their best. In fact I will call them patriotic. They went in and stopped the rustlers from moving with the cows and were able to rescue about 100 cows at the end of the day. So after the rescue they were only able to arrest about three or four those people and took them to the police station and returned to their various villages. That early morning, some of those rustlers who escaped came back and started attacking and killing people in the villages. So it was quite unfortunate.
I must say the security people got there and they did a good job. If they were not there the level or casualty would have been much. Those people were heavily armed but the youths had no arms but they did their best. Three of them sacrificed their lives and before I got there the people were also engaging in reprisal attacks. You know the moment it gets to reprisal attacks it means you are also attacking innocent people, about three people again were killed. So a total of 13 people were killed. We were able to address the people and the people understood and are very calm. Life has gone back to normal but investigations are still ongoing. We have put security around to follow and get the culprits.
Q: When will your colleagues in the north-central consider putting up a security outfit like Amotekun in south west?
Lalong: When you talk about north-central, I am chairman of Northern Governors Forum. We have taken a decision sometime last year. You will recall that at one time we met the president and we told him what we were doing. We set up committees and the the committees have worked very hard. You will recall that we started our meeting from the northwest in Katsina, we are going back to have another meeting in north central.
The situation in the south might not be the same with the north but in the north we are also looking at some ways that will also address these issues. So we have gone ahead to set up committees, those committees have done their work and we are going to meet to address these issues once and for all.
Two, we have also agreed to key into the community policing and at the level of the committee we have already gone far. Each state is already neck deep in community policing.
But I have not read the document. I cannot claim to have read the details of that (Amotekun) document, to understand what they mean by Amotekun. I saw various vehicles that were bought but you know if it’s about vehicles, many vehicles have been bought in the north. I bought almost 100 vehicles and gave to the police but that is not what will address the insecurity in my state.
So, it may vary from south to the north but in the north we are trying to look for a comprehensive way that will help augment what the federal government is doing in respect to insecurity. In Plateau State particularly, all of these things had stopped. We were not witnessing cattle rustling again, I knew what I did. We were not witnessing kidnapping again even without the law in my state. But this attempt just happened and it has reawakened me to something else. That is why I am going back to look at another window in respect to cattle rustling.