Christian Lawyers Accuse Military, STF of Human Rights Abuses, Extra-Judicial Killings in Plateau
By Ralph Madugu
A group of lawyers, under the umbrella of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), has accused the Nigerian Army and the Special Task Force in Plateau State of human rights abuses and extra-judicial killing of innocent citizens and queried the “culpable silence of the Plateau State and the Federal governments of Nigeria in the face of these man’s inhumanity to man and against the citizens of the country they have sworn an oath to protect.”
Addressing journalists during a press conference on the remote and immediate causes of the recent crisis in Jos and environs, CLASFON, said “The remote causes of the crisis can therefore be ascribed to the Federal and State Government’s failure to address the flagrant and unyielding continuous attacks and total sacking of various communities severally in Plateau State. Their actions are at best described in all these instances as the partakers and accessories to the perpetuated attacks on inhabitants and indigenes of those communities who are predominantly Christians and indigenes.”
Plateau State Chairman of CLASFON, Barr. Panmak Mark Lere, who addressed the press,in company of the National President of the fellowship, Barr. Arome Okwori, reeled out an account of the gruesome events, ranging from attacks on Christian communities, abuses of human rights and extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Army based on eye witnessed accounts and reports of victims.
CLASFON wondered why, even in the midst of so much military personnel, there was little less security in the state.
Barr. Lere lamented: “Gentlemen of the press, you would recall that Plateau State, especially in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa, Mangu, Jos South and parts of Jos North LGAs have been under intense attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen for some time now where over 1000 persons, mostly women, children and the aged have been killed, others maimed and wounded, houses and properties destroyed, looted while several villages and communities have been forcefully taken over by and currently under the control of the marauding Fulani herdsmen despite the huge presence of the STF personnel stationed in the areas of the attacks. Sadly, in over 95 percent of the attacks and killings perpetrated, the marauders have escaped without being apprehended.”
According to CLASFON, government’s assurances about being on top of the situation and promises to protect the people have continued to fail as the number of people being killed has kept rising adding that this had led the people into taking steps to defend themselves.
The lawyers listed the unprovoked murder of 14 persons at Rukuba road, the military invasion of a community in Jos South LGA over the alleged disappearance of an Army General in September as some of the possible remote causes of the recent spike in crisis in the state.
The lawyers wondered why after the Army conducted the search for the missing General without the involvement of an independent organization for the purposes of transparency.
While sympathizing with the family of the missing General, the lawyers prayed that the mystery of his disappearance would be resolved soon and urged the military to adopt “a systematic intelligence gathering strategy in accordance with global best practices” in searching for the missing General rather than the collective criminal treatment and extra-judicial killing it has visited on members of the communities.
CLASFON charged the government to safeguard the lives and property of citizens as mandated by the Constitution, adding that they should reach out to innocent victims of the crisis by compensating their families and settle the medical bills of those injured and restore Churches, homes and family property destroyed during the crisis.
“If our government has failed to protect her people, we would call the attention of the international community to respond to our cry and help us,” they declared.