The governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong last week Monday, 7th November, 2018, led a delegation of people to Army Headquarters, Abuja, to beg the Nigerian Army not to avenge the gruesome murder of the former Army Chief of Administration, General Muhammad Idris Alkali (rtd) allegedly by some Berom elements.
Sequel to this development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has decried both the visit and the appeal made to the army, describing it as hypocritical. This was contained in a press statement issued by the human rights organization on Monday, 12th November, 2018. The statement was signed by its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“While we affirm that Lalong’s visit and his appeal to the army is an admission of guilt, we contend that would have been meaningful if he had also visited the Fulani community and the Muslim leaders in his state to express the same sentiment. He left those poor, weak and oppressed people back home in Jos to beg the army hundreds of kilometers away in Abuja. What kind of leader is this?
“It is hypocrisy of the highest order. Just like the Berom women who tried in vain to deceive the world by protesting at the Dura Du pond, Lalong too is acting.
“Mr. Governor sir, under your watch, a whole general was hacked to death. Under your watch, a whole general was humiliated, probably tortured, dehumanized, killed, buried in a shallow grave and exhumed again.
“Under your watch, the dead general’s body was stuffed in a sack laden with stones and dumped in a narrow deep well to keep him below forever so the crime would never be uncovered. Why are you the chief security officer of the state?
“Under your watch, no single Fulani or Muslim traveler from any part of the country is allowed to pass through your roads alive. They are, profiled, identified, dragged out, brutally killed and dumped in ponds of death. And this continued for years! Your apology is empty. It is devoid of humanity. You are simply acting.This matter is beyond the Alkali affair. It is beyond the army. You cannot trivialize genocide against Fulanis and religious cleansing against Nigerian Muslims just by pretending to apologise to the army. General Alkali is not the only human being among the Fulanis. All Fulanis are complete human beings with red blood flowing in their veins.
“Your Excellency, where were you when about 500 Berom women were staging the hocus pocus they called a protest against soldiers attempting to evacuate Dura Du pond in their search for the late general? Where were you when the Nigerian press was being mobilized to smear the good reputation of the same Nigerian Army? We are surprised that the same women are now silent.
“Mrs Rebecca Gyang who led about 500 women in black clothes with some of them half-naked to protest against the draining of water from Dura Du old mining pond on the false excuse that its evacuation would cause calamity of mysterious deaths and other misfortunes for their communities is said to be the wife of Pam Gyang Dung, the Mai Unguwa of Latiya in Du. That is instructive.
“What happens when a traditional chieftain of a people instructs his wife to divert the attention of investigators of a heinous crime by leading such a protest? What should we expect when the state information unit mobilizes the press to give such a diabolical protest full coverage? Both the paramount ruler of Berom, Gbong Gwom Jos and an ex-governor of the state, Senator David Jonah Jang, are from Du District where the killings have been taking place. Neither of them has condemned the killing of General Alkali. Who is Lalong deceiving? This is another strong evidence of the whole community’s involvement in the killings.
“What Lalong failed to realize is that this has gone beyond the killing of an army general. It is about a Fulani army general and thousands of Fulani men and women, including Muslims from all parts of the country who have been mowed down by blood-thirsty Berom killers. The truth is that genocide has been committed against Fulanis and Muslims. There is indubitable evidence of ethnic and religious cleansing. It is a heinous crime and no official state jamboree can extenuate that crime against humanity.
“While governor Lalong is pretending to beg, his kinsmen are threatening fire and brimstone. They are grandstanding. What do we call the vituperations of Da Iliya Choji Kim, Vice President of Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO), against the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the Jamaatu Nasril Islam (JNI) and MURIC? What do we call his attack on Professors Salisu Shehu and Ishaq Akintola.? Why is he personalising the crisis? What did Lalong say about the safety of Fulanis and Muslims who ply that axis in future? Nothing was mentioned about guarantee for their safety. Beroms have not shown any remorse.
“Lalong got it wrong. The process of forgiveness necessitates admission of guilt, showing remorse, a readiness to ensure redress and an undertaking not to repeat the offence again. None of these has taken place. Lalong’s visit is therefore a cowardly act. He and his kith and kin can bully the poor and weak Fulanis and Muslims in his domain, but they lack the balls to face the consequences of their actions.
“If the pretentious demonstration of half-naked Berom women could not distract the army from evacuating Dura Du pond in search of their missing general, Lalong’s crocodile tears in army headquarters cannot deceive them. This is a well-trained and highly disciplined formation.
“The atrocity has been going on for about 17 (seventeen) years, at least since 2001. Crime has the propensity to hide its prolification. It is only criminologists who know that for every single crime uncovered, there must have been more than a dozen others which went undetected. The fact that other vehicles were found under the pond with that of the general lends credence to this point. The late General Alkali must be recognized as a martyr. He laid down his life in order to expose the crimes committed by the Beroms against his people, the Fulanis and Nigerian Muslims.
“For instance, the truth about the disappearance of Alhaji Lawal Isa, a Fulani land agent, who went missing in Du District in 2013, would never have been known but for the Alkali affair. Alhaji Lawal Isa was the owner of the Red Rover found in Du pond with Bauchi plate number AG 645 TRR. He was allegedly tricked by Da Chuwang, the Village Head of Du to visit the area on the pretense that they wanted to buy land from him. He and a friend who accompanied him on the trip were in Du on January 31, 2013. It is noteworthy that the discoveries were made in only one pond (Dura Du pond) and there are about 80 (eighty) others! Who knows how many dead bodies lie below them? It is nostalgic. We contend that thousands had been killed and dumped in the ponds even before 2013.
MURIC vowed to take the matter to international agencies if the Nigerian authorities fail to take necessary action. According to Akintola, “The International Criminal Court (ICC) may have to be brought into this matter of organized genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing against Fulanis and Muslims in the Middle Belt if justice is not obtainable locally. Joshua Dariye allegedly swore to make Plateau the headquarters of Christianity when he was governor and he made good his pledge. The alleged training of militia in Israel and the massive smuggling of arms and ammunition into Plateau State in the past ten years could not have been without the knowledge of Jonah Jang and Lalong.
“For an enduring settlement, Governor Lalong must swallow his pride. He must mobilize leaders of the Berom community, apologise to General Alkali’s family and meet Fulani leaders in the state in a free and sincere dialogue. A Plateau Truth Commission may not be out of place for a genuine and lasting solution to the ever recurring Plateau crisis. Lalong will be joking if he thinks he can get away with this heinous crime merely by apologizing to the army. Apology my foot! Fulanis and Muslims are human beings too.
Before we round off, we reiterate our condemnation of Governor Lalong’s hypocritical apology expressed to the army. We demand justice for the wanton, callous and ultra-criminal killing of General Alkali (rtd), thousands of Fulanis and other Nigerian Muslims. We call for the arrest, detention and prosecution of the sponsors of Berom killers. We assert that we will not hesitate to take this matter to the ICC if there is any attempt to limit the investigations to General Alkali’s murder alone or to sweep the whole issue under the carpet. This matter is beyond Alkali, beyond the military.