Opinion: The Evil Pond of Du: A Postscript – Aliyu Tilda

Plateau State represents the quintessential reason why people like me dismiss state police as a recipe for grievous disaster. If the ongoing injustice in the state will continue with the complicity of federal government’s instruments of coercion, what will be the fate of Muslim citizens of the state when the 100% Christian dominated “Operation Rainbow” is transformed into a police force?

The killing of General Alkali has raised the cases of other victims that were earlier swept under the carpet by the plateau State Government and the JTF. One of them was the case of a land dealer, Alhaji Lawal Isa and his friend Dantani which I published in 2015. Umar, Lawal’s driver who appeared in the story, died later from the head injuries he sustained in the attack.

May God shower his mercy on the souls of Alhaji Lawal, Dantani, General Alkali and other victims of the violence. May God also restore peace on the Plateau. And may our leaders awaken to their responsibility.

A week ago, Alhaji Lawal’s car was found in the same pond where the car of Maj. Gen. Alkali was discovered recently. The STF, which turned away relatives of the victim five years ago, has re-opened the case. Some arrests, as was done in 2015, are reportedly made.

But I am not ready to squander my hopes. I have witnessed so much injustice on the Plateau that no government has addressed or is willing to address so far. A victim whose 70 cows were carted away to Fan district by Berom militia in 2015 had even the opportunity to discuss the matter with the present President after the location of the cattle became known. The latter promised to do something about it and the Plateau problem generally. Nothing followed.

8 October, 2018

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THE KILLING OF ALHAJI LAWAL ISA IS A CHALLENGE TO THE GBONG GWOM JOS

It was late afternoon last Thursday when Alhaji Lawal Isa, a renowned land dealer in Jos and its environs, received a call at his home in Tilden Fulani, where he relocated to with his family as a result of the Jos crises. The call was from the ward head (maiunguwa) of Lakwanjet village, Mr. Dara Chuwan Nyam. The two have known each other for decades.

Mr. Nyam called Lawal in connection to a land at the Rayfield area of Jos which the latter acquired and properly documented long ago. I remember the land because Alhaji Lawal told me about it three years ago when I appointed him my agent on the plots I carved out of my inheritance. Mr. Nyam, in one version, asked him to come over because buyers have come. In another, Lawal was intimated by Nyam to come and claim his cheque for the compensation of the land through which a public road is designed to traverse.

Whatever was the reason behind the call, Lawal immediately left Tilde along with his driver, Umar. On reaching Jos, he picked a friend of his named Dantani and headed towards Rayfield.

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On arrival, they met Mr. Nyam waiting for them. No sooner than they started discussing, four Berom youths arrived on two motorcycles and straight away descended on the driver who was standing aside. Lawal was surprised and turned his attention to the assailants. “He is my boy. Why are you beating him?” he inquired. The assailants now left the driver and turned their ferocity on Lawal and his friend.

The driver immediately realized the danger and fled to a nearby hill. From there, he said, he watched the four drag Alhaji Lawal and Dantani toward a valley. That was the last he knew about them. The driver remained on the hill where he was hiding until dusk. When there was sufficient darkness to cover him, he sneaked away to Bukuru where he complained to the STF.

The STF referred Umar to the police station. The police were not more enthusiastic than the soldiers. They did not go to the site until the following morning, Friday. As they left, the terrified Umar was advised to remain at the station lest his presence at the scene worsens the situation.

The police could not trace the bodies of Alhaji Lawal and Dantani and neither could any other effort. Nevertheless, Maianguwa Nyam and two other youths were arrested and brought to the station in Bukuru that Friday. However, they were released on bail until the following day when the DPO escalated the matter to the Plateau State Police Headquarters in Jos on Saturday. When I went to condole the family of Alhaji Lawal yesterday evening, one of his relatives told me that the trio were under police custody at the headquarters.

The families of the deceased are making strenuous effort to recover the bodies. But as is common with the victims of Berom attacks, the bodies are usually disposed of in pits often prepared prior to the attacks. They may never be seen.

This mode of attack based on breach of trust is not new among the Berom. I know of two Fulani that were killed two years ago in Jos South after a Berom friend of theirs called to tell them that their cows have been recovered. They were killed in the same manner Lawal and Dantani were killed. Residents of Jos also know very well the stories of many craftsmen and achaba riders who were lured into neighbourhoods by their passengers, some of whom were even women masquerading in hijab, only to fall into the trap of bloodthirsty Berom youths that would snatch their machines and kill them.

Incidentally, there was an ongoing sensitization tour organized by the STF in the state last week when Lawal and his friend were brutally killed. As Lawal’s driver was waiting in Bukuru for the police to return from the scene of the murder on Friday, the paramount ruler of Jos, His Majesty, the Gbong Gwom Jos, was delivering a speech some twenty-five kilometers away at Riyom. In the speech, he warned that the only way to resolve the crises is to hold traditional and political leaders responsible for anything that happens in their domain. Listen to His Majesty as reported by Daily Trust of January 1st 2013:

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“Gbong Gwom Jos, has said leaders should be held responsible for any attack in their respective domains. The monarch said in Riyom in the ongoing sensitization peace tour organized by the Plateau STF saying that the best way to tackle present security challenge is that in any location where there is an attack both traditional and political leaders should be arrested and face the wrath of the law. He said that for those of us that are called leaders we must rise up to our responsibility and also the people too must respect constituted authority for us to resolve this problem because you can never be good if you do not know how to follow.”

Relatives of victims who suffered such attacks previously and on which nothing was done will be quick to dismiss the warning of His Majesty as mere nice talk – and so would the relatives of Lawal and Dantani. To the rest of Nigerians, however, the Gbong Gwom is giving us a rope to hang him. Here is a traditional ruler under the domain of the Gbong Gwom in a police cell facing charges of masterminding an attack that claimed the lives of two innocent, unarmed and unsuspecting citizens. Will His Majesty rise up to the occasion and ensure that they are made “to face the full wrath of the law” as he warned or will the Palace, the Government House at Rayfield and the Plateau State judiciary, as usual, move quickly to sweep the crime under the carpet?

The matter is gaining momentum and the STF has renewed its interest on it. As I conclude this article, someone close to the STF headquarters informed me that one of the Berom arrested “is speaking” at the CID headquarters and, as a result, more people are arrested. It is suspected that he has also offered to show the location where he and his friends in crime disposed of the bodies of the victims.

It is likely that this time the words of His Majesty are not mere rhetoric. Justice should be done not only to console the families of the deceased but also to enable the residents of Lakwanjet village resume spending the night in their homes instead of the bush to where they flee at dusk in fear of a reprisal attack. Night temperatures in Jos are chilling now.

Incidentally, Lakwanjet is just some meters away from Dogo Nahauwa.

3 January 2013

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