Few hours after announcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew in three local government areas of Jos North, Jos South and Bassa, Plateau State governor, Simon Bako Lalong has directed the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in Jos North to contain further security threats.
This comes after travellers were yesterday ambushed and about 23 killed by suspected Irigwe youth in apparent retaliatory attack.
The victims were said to be Sufi Muslims who attended a religious gathering for Muslim new year in Bauchi and were on their way back to the South where they reside.
Many were said to have been based in Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had yesterday, condemned the attack in a statement.
The killing follows months of repeated clashes between rigwe youth and Fulani herders who had reportedly sustained attacks in the area for periods.
In the past two days, the Irigwe youth had repeatedly announced that they were conveying the corpses of their kin slain by suspected herders for burial in Bassa on Saturday.
Reports said they had set out in a convoy for the burial on Saturday morning when violence broke out along the way at Rukuba road.
As they went with the corpses, they met some vans conveying some Muslims identified as Fulani along their way. The Fulani reportedly claimed they were commuters from Bauchi, but the angry youth challenged them seeing that Rukuba road does not connect Bauchi highway. They suspected that they may have come to attack them at the burial ground.
The irate youth were said to have dragged their victims out of their vehicles which were trapped in gridlock around Rukuba Road in Jos and started killing them using machetes, daggers, knives, stones and other dangerous weapons.
Though the violence has been quelled by Soldiers drafted from the Special Task Force (STF) on security, and at least 20 people have been arrested, the city is still enveloped in palpable tension.
Governor Lalong’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Macham Makut announced the curfew in a statement in Jos on Sunday
The statement quoted the Governor as saying “from 2pm of today, Sunday 15th August 2021, a 24-hour curfew will come into effect in Jos North Local Government Area. This is necessitated by security reports which indicate rising threats to the safety of lives and properties within the Local Government”.
The Governor urged citizens to abide by the curfew and remain indoors to allow security agencies maintain law and order and deal with those bent on causing chaos.
The Governor said that the 24 hour curfew in Jos North Local Government will remain in force until further notice adding
“Again, citizens are to note that the 24 hour curfew in Jos North will take effect from 2pm today 15th August 202.”
Meanwhile, police in a statement on Sunday, said 20 people have been arrested in connection with the incident, while another 33 people have been rescued.
This is as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba, on Sunday ordered the immediate deployment of Police Intervention Team to Plateau State to carry out an on-the-spot assessment.
The team, which comprises personnel of Police Tactical Units – the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Special Forces, amongst others, is being led by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Finance and Administration, Sanusi Lemu.
Also deployed are investigators and covert operatives from the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) and the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), who are expected to provide additional investigative, intelligence and forensic support to the Plateau State Police Command in the ongoing investigations and rescue operations.
According to a statement by the Force spokesman, Frank MBA, the squads are to ensure enhanced, coordinated response to protect the community and boost public confidence in the affected area(s) of the State in order to prevent further attacks as well as bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The police chief enjoined citizens in the affected area(s) to support the security forces deployed to the hotspot by providing useful information that will lead to the arrest of other perpetrators of the crime and forestall any further attack.
The statement added, ”The IGP, while condemning the incident, has called for calm and assured victims and relatives of the attack that the Police are working with the military, other security forces and the State Government to ensure that all perpetrators of the unfortunate incident are brought to book
Earlier In a statement on Saturday, the Plateau State Police Command blamed Irigwe youth for killing, noting that suspects have been arrested for
“On 14/08/2021 at about 0928hrs, the Plateau State Police Command received a distress call that a group of attackers suspected to be Irigwe youths and their sympathisers along Rukuba Road of Jos North LGA attacked a convoy of five buses with Muslim faithful who were coming back from the Annual Zikr prayer in Bauchi State and are heading to Ikare in Ondo State,” the police had said.
“Unfortunately, twenty-two (22) persons were killed and Fourteen injured in the attack.
“Upon receipt of the report, a team of Police personnel, the military and other sister agencies were immediately mobilised to the scene where twenty one (21) victims were rescued and six suspects arrested.
“The Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, CP Edward Egbuka along with the GOC 3-Division, Major General Ibrahim Ali, also visited the scene and ordered for a discreet investigation to fish out other perpetrators of this barbaric act at large.
“The Cp warned that those that perpetrated this dastardly act & others that incited it, will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“The Command urges the public to remain calm and to furnish the Police with useful information that will aid the investigation.”
Lalong had on Saturday condemned the killings and directed security agencies to swiftly identify and arrest the perpetrators while dominating the area to restore calm.
In a statement signed by his Director of Press, Macham read in part: “Governor Simon Bako Lalong has warned trouble makers bent on fomenting trouble in Plateau State to desist as the government will not allow any form of lawlessness to disrupt the peace of the State.
“Lalong said the attacks on innocent citizens no matter their backgrounds will never be tolerated in Plateau State and those who are found to be behind such attacks will be dealt with decisively to serve as deterrence and restore public order.
“The Governor however commends security agencies for their immediate response leading to the arrest of some suspects and the restoration of calm to the area.”
The Governor also commiserated with the families of those affected, and assured all law abiding citizens that security had been beefed up around the area as well as the entire metropolis to forestall further breach of the peace.
He reminded the citizens to remain vigilant and be security conscious in reporting suspicious persons and behaviour within their domains to enable law enforcement agencies to respond appropriately.
Lalong also directed the Secretary to the Government of the State, Prof. Danladi Atu to visit the areas and ascertain the situation as well as ensure that those injured received adequate medical attention.
The peace of the state has been troubled by series of skirmishes in recent times, leading to several deaths and destruction of properties, especially in Bassa and Riyom Local Government Areas. The Governor has repeatedly warned that violent merchants won’t be allowed to have their way in the state.