The end of the crisis in Jos, the Plateau State capital, may not be in sight anytime soon, if the security alert issued by the military joint task force in the state is anything to go by.
According to the security alert, which was reportedly sent to the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, a secret meeting was said to have been held in a village on the outskirts of Jos, by some members of the Boko Haram sect, where they resolved to invite their members from Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri and Bauchi states to “join the Muslims in Jos for a mass attack”.
The security alert added that, “Five Vectra cars were donated, to be used for suicide bombing. Shekh Yahaya Jengre announced during the meeting that two persons have donated N50, 000,000 (fifty million naira) each for the cause.
“Main targets are, Gbom Gwom’s Palace, Government House and Gada Biu. There is possibility of NEPA blackout to aid the attackers. There is need for troops to dominate the towns and secure all KPs.”
The alert further advised that all vehicles coming into Jos should be searched for weapons.
Efforts by our correspondent to reach the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Okeocha and the PPRO of the Police Command proved abortive, as they would not take their calls.
The alert came as the family of one Mr. Chollom Gyang of Tatu Village near Heipang in Barkin Ladi local government council of the state, was Saturday night murdered, along with his wife and six children, including a four–month-old baby.
A survivor of the attack, who sustained a deep cut to his head and is currently receiving treatment at a dispensary in the locality, told journalists that another son of the family escaped the assailants.
The Plateau State government, through the commissioner for information, Pastor Yiljab Abraham, who was at the scene of the incident, confirmed the killings. He called for calm, assuring that the security agents would smoke out the perpetrators of the criminal act.
He, however, urged the people to be more vigilant, maintaining that security was everybody’s business. “You also have the responsibility to be vigilant,” the commissioner of information stated.
He also charged the traditional and religious leaders to caution their subjects to be cautious of where they go and the kind of people they mingle with.
In separate remarks while speaking to news men, Barkin Ladi council chairman, Emmanuel Loman and the member representing Barkin Ladi constituency at the state House of Assembly, Hon. Gyang Fulani, said that the situation was getting out of hand.
According to them, within two weeks, 20 people had been killed in cold blood by unknown persons in the area.
In another development, a team of anti-bomb experts yesterday uncovered an explosives device planted at an open market known as Makera Market in Riyom local government council of Plateau State. According to a police source, the locally made explosive was planted to cause mayhem in the market.
Explaining how the squad was able to detect the device, the bomb expert noted that an 80-year-old man found a container with a wall clock in it at the market square and took it home, not knowing that it was an explosive. Fortunately for him, the bomb did not detonate, due to the weakness of the batteries used by the bombers. The device has since been deactivated by bomb experts.
Meanwhile, the military Special Task Force (STF), apparently angered by the random shooting of its members, has mandated soldiers to shoot on sight anyone carrying or using arms on others.
“The STF is now mandated to use all the necessary force within its powers on anybody carrying and using arms or dangerous weapons on another person,” its spokesman, Mr. Charles Ekeocha said.
Mr. Ekeocha in a statement in Jos yesterday, warned youths against “testing the might of the soldiers,” saying that whoever did would be doing so at his or her own peril.
He disclosed that three soldiers shot by the youths were presently lying critically ill in hospital and regretted that they were gunned down by people they were there to protect.
The STF spokesman added, “Everywhere in the state is infested with weapons, with sporadic shots heard both day and night. The sporadic shooting by Muslim and Christian youths is also targeted at the soldiers.”
He advised politicians, traditional rulers, religious leaders and parents to counsel their wards, saying, “The soldiers are no longer prepared to turn the other cheek.”
Ekeocha, however, urged the people of the state to go about their normal activities, as the STF and other security agencies were prepared to protect them. The relative peace in the state suffered a severe blow on Monday when youth groups clashed along Rukuba Road during the Eid-el Fitr prayers by the Izala Islamic sect. Several lives were lost during the fracas with many more injured, while vehicles and shops were also set on fire.