Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark in an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, has advised him to take decisive action in order to bring the perpetrators of Christmas Day killings in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi communities, in Plateau State to justice.
He joined in calling for setting up of powerful commission of inquiry consisting of responsible patriotic and loyal citizens, including senior retired officers of the armed forces, saying it will be beneficial to Nigerians.
“This commission should conduct a thorough investigation into the killings of innocent citizens and the destruction of properties particularly in Plateau State.
Nigerians are eager to know whether these bandits are operating within Nigeria or if they are from outside the country. It is also important to uncover any involvement, of the army in this tragic incident. The findings of the commission should be handled with precision, and the recommendations should be implemented without hesitation. There should be no sacred cows in dealing with the sponsors and perpetrators of these acts. It is crucial to take decisive actions and hold them accountable for their actions.”
The elder statesman while reiterating his call for restructuring said, only restructuring can stop man inhumanity to man such as “the unprovoked massacre in Plateau State.”
Clark said: “It is with profound dismay that Nigerians woke up in the morning, ready to embrace the Christmas festivities, only to be confronted with the horrifying news of the senseless slaughter of Plateau natives. Numerous innocent lives, including those of children, were tragically taken. This dreadful incident has been extensively covered by various Nigerian Media, as well as the foreign papers such as the London Guardian which reported a casualty count of 150 on December 26, 2023, while the exact number of victims was still uncertain in Nigeria, even among state officials.
“I commend Mr. President for his response to the event by sending the vice president and he emphasised that “these envoys of death, pain and sorrow will not escape justice”. In light of the attacks on Christmas Eve, security operatives have been instructed to actively pursue the perpetrators. Also Nigerians are waiting Mr President personal visit at this time of grief, it is crucial to question whether they are indeed being pursued.
“It is perplexing how a large group of terrorists can carry out such devastating attacks on 17 villages in two nights, resulting in the loss of countless lives. Only to vanish without a trace. It is disheartening that we continue to allow them to escape in this manner.
“Furthermore, it is concerning to note that despite the significant amount of money spent on our securities and secret services, the interventions implemented have produced no tangible results.”
Clark recalled that in the past, cattle owners would often reach amicable agreements with the community regarding their desire to rear cattle for the season. “As a result of these agreements, the cattle would graze in the area, and at the end of the season, the leaves and manure left behind by the cattle became highly beneficial to the community farmers. However, the situation of the old system has changed due to the intervention of politicians who now insist on the Fulani’s claiming ownership of land that rightfully belongs to others. That gave right to the issue of owners and settlers.
“In particular, the creation of Jos-north local government gave the Fulani’s the right of ownership of the land they had earlier settled. It is wrong for anyone to describe the situation in Plateau state as a battle or war between two communities or inter communal war. Rather, it is a one-sided attack on innocent indigenes of the Plateau communities, aimed at seizing their land. This has been happening for the past two decades, with armed Fulani herdsmen deliberately targeting and displacing the people.
“It is disheartening that the federal government has not taken decisive action to address this genocide in a country where the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is being ignored and violated, leaving Nigerian citizens to abandon their homes for the invaders to occupy their land and seek refuge in camps. There are politicians who have been sponsoring these dangerous herdsmen, armed with AK-47 rifles, and it is known by the authorities as this was stated sometime ago by the former governor of Kaduna state Mallam Elrufai when he openly asserted that the authority knows these invaders and where they are and some even have their telephone numbers.
“The question is: Is it difficult for the military to pursue and apprehend these marauders, especially in area where they are no thick forest in the north? The president and the government took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of Nigeria in section 14 (1) as stated:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that-
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derive all its powers and authority
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government;and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provision of this Constitution.
“This is one of the main reasons why many Nigerians are calling for the restructuring of the country, allowing people in different states to live freely and develop their regions or state without intimidation or oppression from any quarter.
“Currently, we are not practicing a true federal system where people can freely move and exercise their rights to freedom of speech and association. We need a federation where all citizens are equal and there is mutual respect for one another. In this federation, each state or region should be able to develop at its own pace, utilizing the resources available within their boundaries without any hindrance as it was in the first republic which was confirmed in the 1963 republican constitution.
“However, the current situation is such that the states, which are supposed to be autonomous according to section 5 (2) of the 1999 constitution, are treated as subsidiary of the federal government where by the federal government take all the resources available in various state, leaving them with no control over their own resources found in their backyard. Additionally, the states are made to travel to Abuja every month to receive their monthly allowance (allocation), which is generated from the resources of the states themselves. Unfortunately, the governors of these states often prioritize their loyalty to the president rather than to their own allegiance or federal republic of Nigeria. This loyalty has led to a belief that their survival depends on submitting their constitutional rights to the president. Today the President is regarded as the most powerful President in the world.”
Clark continuing said: “As a senior citizen of our country, I strongly advise President Bola Tinubu to utilize his intelligence officials to remain vigilant and uncover any potential conspiracies aimed at escalating insecurity in our country. It is important to establish that the insurgency and insecurity were orchestrated or supported by the previous administration.
“Mr. President, I recognize your courage and determination, and there seems to be a deliberate attempt to test your will power and ability to restore security as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria. Your approach must be firm and unwavering, and anyone who does not align with your policies should find his way out. Nigeria is too great for any person or group of persons to manipulate.
“During President Buhari time, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and his fellow service chiefs received immense support from President Muhammadu Buhari and claimed that Boko Haram would be a thing of the past within three months of the government but the reverse was the case, despite numerous accusations of disloyalty, inefficiency and lack of dedication to their country and as Nigerians demanded from their removal from office but rather they were given extension of time and more funds and finally appointed as ambassadors.
“Mr. President, it is essential that you adhere to the oath of office you took, which includes prioritizing the security and welfare of the people.“