The Plateau Peace Building Agency has charged the Plateau State Police Command and the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) vested with the responsibility of maintaining the peace in the state to intensify operations to flush out all miscreants and criminal elements orchestrating attacks on communities especially in Bassa LGA.
Joseph Lengemang who made the call in Jos, when he led management and staff of the agency to pay courtesy visits on the separate command formations, said the call became necessary in view of the recent upsurge of violence and destruction of cultivated farmlands in Irigwe chiefdom of Bassa LGA.
According to Lengmang, the state was enjoying some relative peace in the state because in the last couple of years the agency has identified and converted parties in the various conflicts into critical stakeholders for peace and conflict resolution.
He said: “we have identified belligerent individuals and groups in the conflict landscape of Plateau State and we have incorporated them into the peace building processes in the state”.
The DG however maintained that more needed to be done to achieve some appreciable level of peace in the state stressing that efforts by the PPBA are being geared towards addressing issues of resentment, mutual mistrust and suspicion amongst ethno-religious groups in the state.
He added that the main focus of the agency in the next phase of its assignment was to engage more with ordinary community people at the community level across the all the flashpoint areas in the three Senatorial Districts of the state even as Lengmang solicited for more cooperation from both the police and the task force in consolidating on the gains of the current relative peace in the state.
Responding, the Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Edward Egbuka commended the Plateau State government for the foresight in establishing the agency stressing that it had helped immensely in addressing some of the long standing issues of conflict in the state.
CP Egbuka lamented that while growing up as a child in Jos in the late 70s and early 80s, Jos was the cynosure of all eyes even as he wondered what had happened to the once serene environment he knew as a child.
The Police Boss then urged the agency to key into some of the institutional reforms introduced into the force by the current Inspector General of Police, IGP Tanko Muhammed particularly in the aspect of Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC, to build solid community based security architecture that would check crime and criminality in communities of the state.
Egbuka then pledged to brief the Area Commanders and all Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to collaborate with the PPBA to achieve the mandate of restoring peace and ensuring security of communities in the state.
On his part, Commander, Special Task Force, STF, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Chukuemeka Okonkwo described the agency as “critical to the peace process in the state”.
According to Gen. Okonkwo, “we must approach the challenges confronting us as a people with innovation because we cannot enforce peace but they (the people) need to agree for them to live together in peace”.
He lamented that the situation in Bassa LGA of Plateau State and Southern part of Kaduna was one that would be addressed by the task force as soon as they receive reinforcement from the appropriate quarters.