A former member of the Plateau State House of Representatives member representing Jos South/Jos east, Dachung Musa Bagos, has said that the killings and insecurity in Plateau State are caused by land grabbers who use these communities for illegal mining and agricultural purposes.
Bagos, in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, said that the wrong narratives had, for many years, been put on the table to explain the killings in the state, and that there is no issue of an ethnic, religious, or farmer/herder clash in the state, as these issues were just the “fake face” giving to the major issue of land grabbing for illegal activities.
The former representative said, “What is happening is pure genocide, land grabbing. People come into communities, kill, chase these people and occupy their lands. And it’s not just a mere statement, the facts and proofs are there,” saying that since 2001, over 60 communities had been wiped out on the Plateau.
“The first thing that we have identified is that the wrong narratives have been given to the killings on the Plateau- farmers/herders, it is not so. Religious, it is not so, but people bring in the element of religion into these killings so that they’ll be able to do what they need.
“The major purpose that we identified, and if you look at the chronology of all the villages that have been wiped out on the Plateau, each and every one of them has one or two economic potentials on the Plateau.
“All the communities that have been wiped out on the Plateau, all of them today, go back to those communities, you will see that some people are mining in those communities that you cannot even access those communities. Go to some of these communities, you will see that these communities are highly vegetational that you can farm there, you can rear cows there, they have streams. So, all these communities are for a certain target.”
He said that there were communities in the hilly side of Plateau State that had no potential for mining, agriculture, or other economic endeavours, and that those communities have not been attacked since the inception of Plateau State.
Bagos went on to say, “There is no crisis on the Plateau, and there is no clash on the Plateau. Because number 1, if there is crisis on the Plateau, you will now find out that over the years, that the killings that have taken place on the Plateau, you could have seen that either the farmers and herders, all of them have casualties. But this is a situation where the community will be sleeping, and at the end of the day, in the night, they will be killed, chased out of their own community. So, that is absolutely not a clash.
“Unless we change and look at the narratives, we will not get the solutions right. But if you always call it a clash, call it a crisis, call Christians, Muslims, or ethnic groups together to the table, take tea, and proffer solutions that are practically mere conflict solutions, it will never solve the situation.
“They will give you a fake face in terms of to provoke religious crisis, but the major reason is that so that people will be able to leave these communities… So, we need to come to the table to diagnose the issues of killings on the Plateau properly before we will be able to get a solution,” he said.
Bagos then addressed the several recommendations for peace that have been given in the state over the years and their failure to work out as he said, “Most of the recommendations for peace on the Plateau are political peace. We cannot continue on political matters and bringing political peace on the table, it will not last.”
He said that security agencies need to be invited and made to address the Plateau killings and give full reports of the issues after proper investigation, “There are instances on the issue of killings on the Plateau that we even found sim cards on the floor. We took those sim cards to the security, nothing. There are instances that we found ID cards of these people on the Plateau, on those sites that they came to ravage our communities. Either you will see that they are fake military ID cards, or they are Military whatsoever ID cards. We found those, we pushed them forward, but nothing has been done.
“But at the end of the day, you will see that when our youths come out to put defence, they are the ones that will fall victim of arrest, or at the end of the day, if intel shows that this person is part of what has happened in this community, he will be arrested, tomorrow, you will hear that he has been moved to Abuja or he has been moved to another location, no more issue.”
Bagos then said, however, that the security agencies have done their best with the situation on ground, and that they do have the intel of these occurrences, but the issue is that they are overwhelmed.
He said, “If today, a bye-election will take place and 20,000 security personnel will be sent to those areas to protect votes, why can’t those kind of numbers of security personnel be sent to Plateau to be able to protect and prevent those kind of killings because every life is very important than even the votes, because without the lives you will not be able to get the votes.
“So, we want to see those kinds of security arrangements that they do for elections to be done on the Plateau to save lives before the elections because to me, the security has done their best, but more needs to be done. Because what they are practically doing is to be able to calm nerves, but to pre-empt and to prevent as well as again to forestall not to happen is what the security needs to do now.”