• Allegations baseless – OPSH

From Jude Owuamanam, Jos

The Coalition of Bokkos Ethnic Youth Nationalities in Plateau State has accused the military of compounding their woes during last Friday’s attack on them by suspected Fulani herders shooting at residents.

No fewer than 10 people were killed when the gunmen carried out simultaneous attacks in two communities of Kopnanle in Mangu and Mandang Mushu in Bokkos Local Government Areas of the State.

In a petition to army authorities, the Coalition of Bokkos Ethnic Youth Nationalities alleged that soldiers were shooting at civilians, which compounded their vulnerability.

They also called for the removal of the Commander of the Step-Up Headquarters 2 in Bokkos, accusing him of failing to quell the crisis of Friday

Operation SAFE HAVEN (OPSH) has described the allegations as baseless.

In a statement signed by the Media Officer, Maj. Samson Zhakom, OPSH said that the allegations were completely unfounded and intended to tarnish the ongoing efforts of all security agencies to flush out militia groups in the general area.

According to Zhakom, upon receipt of distress calls during the attacks, personnel responded from three fronts which forced the assailants to abandon their mission and flee.

He said, “It is important to point out that the quick response of forces led to the prompt quelling of the attacks which simultaneously targeted Kopnanle and Mandang Mushu in Mangu and Bokkos Local Government Areas of Plateau State.

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“At the time of repelling the attack, one person was killed and two others were injured at Kopnanle while three persons were injured at Mandang Mushu (two of the injured persons later died while receiving treatment).

“Suffice to state that nothing can be further from the truth than the allegation of personnel being involved in the killing of vigilantes at Kopyal Village in Bokkos Local Government Area. It is expedient to note that security agencies deployed in Bokkos were not involved in any confrontation with vigilantes as mischievously claimed in the petition.

“Security agencies were rather preoccupied with restoring normalcy during the confrontations between militia groups of different ethnic groups on 13 April 2024. Kudos should be given to these troops who remained deployed without break for over 72 hours ensuring that the high grounds and other vulnerable communities were dominated in a bid to protect law-abiding citizens.

“The deceased militia was found to be one of those killed by other militias who invaded the area during the confrontation between rival militia groups in the area.

“Also, the use of sophisticated weapons by the acclaimed vigilante was further buttressed by the discovery of eleven (11) rounds of 7.62 mm (Special) ammunition in the possession of the dead militia contrary to claims that he was a vigilante who was using dane gun to protect his community, moreover the acclaimed vigilante was already dead before the troops arrived the area.

“Therefore, the allegation of killing the vigilante is a calculated effort to feign weakness and exonerate the dead vigilante from his participation in the attacks and counter-reprisals.

Zhakom also described as malicious the call for the removal of the Commander of the recently established Step-Up Headquarters in Bokkos, Colonel CY Ofurumazi, saying that the call was not unconnected with the increased tempo of operations carried out by troops under the command of the senior officer which has denied criminal elements on both sides of the divide the freedom of action.

“The desperation of the petitioners may have been aggravated by the impartial stance of Col Ofurumazi during the attack which was already being given a religious connotation to stir sentiment and instigate spillover to other parts of Plateau State as well as his refusal to yield to demands which would have called his neutrality to question.”