Nigeria

PLATEAU: CSOs, peace advocates condemn looting of properties

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By Joseph Erunke, Abuja

A coalition of 23 civil society groups and human rights organisations has condemned the recent mass looting and burning down of private and public properties in Plateau State, saying the development which it noted, was strange to the state must not be allowed to reoccur.

This was as the group commended Operation Safe Haven,(OPSH), the Special military taskforce responsible for internal security in Plateau, South Kaduna and Bauchi states for its professional conduct in handling the situation without recording any casualties.

Besides, the group under the umbrella of Coalition of Civil Societies for Peace and Human Rights (COCIPAH), which noted that Plateau has for long not recorded any human rights abuse from military personnel in the state, commended the military outfit for the feat.

In the statement signed by Dr Gyang Sha as National Chairman and Pham. Simon Ventim, as National Secretary, the group particularly commended Operation Safe Haven, for what it described as “the exceptional role they played in deescalating the violent conflict in Jos.”

It tasked the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong not only to set up the machinery to begin youth engagement in the state but take the initiative to his counterparts as Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, saying the initiative would restore peace in the entire northern region.

The coalition of over 23 civil society organizations with a thematic area of interventions in peace and human rights said its position came after an emergency meeting in Jos to appraise the peace and security situation in Nigeria and Jos in particular.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the recent mass looting and stealing of both government and private properties in some parts of Nigeria, particularly in Jos, Plateau State and call on law enforcement agencies to swing into action with a view to arresting the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity,” it said.

According to the coalition,” Despite some of the shortcomings of our government to the plight of its citizens, nobody has the justification to take laws into his or her hands.”

” We wish to appreciate the Nigeria Military over the restraint and show of professionalism it exhibited during and after the violent uprising in the country.

“This approach went a long way in managing the conflict and positioning our army as a democratically infused one.

We want to particularly commend Operation Safe Haven, the special military taskforce set up to keep peace in Plateau, Southern Kaduna and Bauchi state, for the exceptional role they played in deescalating the violent conflict in Jos,” the statement read.

The group said, “We were particularly worried about Jos because it is a melting point and any conflict that escalates in the state may have a national consequence because of its religious and ethnic sensitivities. ”

” But we are pleased with the professionalism exhibited by Operation Safe Haven and other security agencies in handling the situation.

“At a point before the military came out the hoodlums and looters were operating with impunity, stealing and destroying people’s private properties unchallenged until Operation Safe Haven stepped in and saved the situation.

“They made several arrests and recovered exhibits of high magnitude. This singular act went a long way in deterring the looters who were operating initially as if there is no law in Nigeria,” the statement said.

It further read: During the uprising, OPSH intensified civil engagements with CSOs and stakeholders. This approach worked effectively in deescalating the conflict. As civil society organisations, we commend them for this show of competence.

” Worthy to note is the zero case of human rights violations by OPSH and other security agencies. This is a sharp departure from what we used to know in such situations in the past and it is also worthy of commendation.

“While we call on Governor Simon Bako Lalong to set up the machinery to begin youth engagement in the state, we discovered there is a huge communication gap between the youths and governance. This is one of the major factors responsible for the high level of destruction in some states in Nigeria, particularly in Plateau State. ”

Vanguard

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