BY Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, ANKELI EMMANUEL, AHURAKA ISAH, JOY YESUFU, Abuja, ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos and Mathias Nwogu, Umuahia
Tension and confusion enveloped the atmosphere in Plateau State yesterday, following unconfirmed reports that clashes have erupted between Northerners and Igbos in Jos, the state capital. To this effect, the state governor, Simon Lalong, has imposed an indefinite dusk to dawn curfew on the state capital. According to a statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nanle, while the imposition of curfew followed reports of disturbances in parts of Jos, security agencies have been directed to effect strict compliance with the curfew. The statement noted: “Consequently, the governor has directed an immediate imposition of curfew from dusk to dawn (6pm – 6am) within the Greater Jos – Bukuru Metropolis, until further notice.
“The deployment of security personnel to all flash-points within the metropolis has also been directed to ensure compliance with the curfew order and to avert any further breach of law and order”. LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the clashes that were rumoured to have broken out on Thursday evening around Katako area of Jos North local government council threw the entire Tin city in palpable confusion. Sources in the Terminus area of the town said people have been running for safety since the rumour broke out. There were heavy traffic around the Dogo Karfe area and Plateau State specialist hospital as motorists jostled to occupy any available space to escape impending attack. The director general of Plateau State Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Mr Joseph Langmang, rushed to the studio of Plateau Radio Corporation in a live programme to douse the tension.
October 1: No Tension In Nigeria – IGP
Meanwhile, with two weeks to the nation’s independence anniversary, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has assured that there is no cause for tension in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja, he said efforts are on to quell the little tension in the South East.
He said “I don’t think there is tension in the country. Which country; this Nigeria? No. Nigeria does not have any tension. At least you are in Abuja and you have gone around; there is no tension”.
On the crisis in the South East, IGP Idris said, “Obviously, one is to deploy Policemen across the country. Two, we are in touch with the states government, trying to mobilize the political leadership to be able to intervene where necessary on how to lessen the tension in the South East”.
Reacting to the allegation by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, that most crimes committed in Rivers State was committed by members of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), he said, “He has right to self-expression. You know he is a governor”.
When prodded further, the IGP said, “Of course I have to deny that; that is nonsense. I have to deny that. If a policeman was killed will you say he was involved in crime? I think you are mixing two different issues. That a policeman was killed in Rivers in connection with this IPOB issue is different from saying the policemen are involved in crime. You cannot say someone that was attacked and killed is the one involved in crime.
“He said he was one of the three men that were suspected to be members of SARS who were attempting to kidnap someone and he died in the process?”
When asked if the governor was not making any sense, he replied: “I just want you to read between the lines. If you have leaders making sweeping allegations, obviously it does not make sense. I don’t want to comment on it”.
We Are Not Withdrawing Troops From South East – Army
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has debunked reports making the rounds that the force will be withdrawing troops of Operation Python Dance2 from the South East today.
The director of Army Public Relations, (DAPR) Brigadier General Sani Usman made this known in a telephone conversation with our reporter.
He was reacting to reports quoting Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, as saying that soldiers mobilized to the state would commence withdrawal from the streets of Aba and Umuahia.
The governor reportedly warned members of IPOB and others against using the opportunity of the withdrawal to embark on any form of street protest and spreading of falsehood which has been rampant in the past few days.
But the Nigerian Army refuted the claim, noting that it is transparent in all its operations and if it were to withdraw troops, it will be made known to the public.
The DAPR said the army was not the source of the report, adding that if there is any alteration or development in the deployment of troops of operation Python Dance 2, the military will let the general public known.
Residents Flee, Others Remain Indoors In Aba Over Renewed Crisis
Meanwhile, following a resurgence of crisis in Aba in Abia State yesterday, some residents have remained indoors, while others hurriedly left the city in fear.
In areas around Uratta Junction, Ariaria Junction, Tonimas Junction and Flyover along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, some people were seen carrying loads and waiting for vehicles to leave the town.
Some Northern youths gathered around Ariaria Junction carrying sticks and stones, and so were some Igbo youths.
At Bakassi bus stop on the expressway, policemen threw tear-gas canisters at some youths who gathered at a nearby street.
There were unsubstantiated reports of killings and shootings in different parts of the city which helped in heightening tension.
The medical director, Holy Wounds Hospital, Faulks Road, Aba, Dr Uchenna Anyanwu, said that two persons suspected to have been shot in Ariaria area were brought in dead to his hospital.
Anyanwu who said that two injured persons were being treated in his hospital wondered why a mob should vandalise his hospital when he was saving lives.
At the city centre, shop owners closed their businesses, while commercial banks halted their operations.
Banks, including First Bank branches at Abayi and Asa Road, Skye Bank on St. Michael’s Road, Union Bank and Ecobank on Factory Road remained closed.
Only Heritage Bank close to Ochendo Motor Park was open but with heavy security presence.
Meanwhile, every major junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway within Aba has been occupied by military men.
Python Dance: Ekweremadu Condemns Siege, Calls For Calm
Meanwhile, deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, has condemned what he described as military siege to the South East geopolitical zone, noting that dialogue and inclusion were best options in resolving the agitation in the region.
In a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, the deputy Senate president, however, called on the people of the South East to remain calm as he and other leaders of the region were engaging the federal government in meaningful discussions to ensure that the South East Operation Python Dance was called off soonest.
Ekweremadu said, “The military siege to the South East is uncalled for because there is no prevailing situation in the region to warrant it in the first place. Instead, it is the Python Dance that appears to be creating problems and raising tension in the region. The agitation in the South East at the moment is best resolved by way of dialogue and a sense of inclusion.
“I want to assure our people that I have been engaging the Presidency and security agencies meaningfully on the issue. It is my hope that the Operation Egwu Eke will be called off.
“Until then, however, I call on the military to respect the rights of the citizens. The various videos and reports of gross human rights abuse making the rounds in the social and traditional media are nevertheless very disgusting and disheartening. They should be thoroughly investigated by the relevant authorities with a view to establishing the truth and ensuring that no human rights violator goes unpunished”.
Sultan Sues For Tolerance, Peace In Nigeria
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto and president general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday urged Nigerians to embrace one another in love and harmony despite their differences.
The Sultan who insisted that God has a purpose for bringing Nigerians together as one country, added that Nigeria’s unity in diversity should be considered as the nation’s greatest strength.
In a press release issued in Sokoto, the traditional and religious leader, said Nigerians should continue to pursue collective goals and not division on whatever bases.
He commended both the federal and state governments as well as security agencies on their collective efforts towards ensuring sustained peace and development in Nigeria.
And on the strength of that, Sultan called on all Nigerians to live in peace with one another irrespective of their tribal, ethnic or regional differences.
While stressing that Nigerians should live in peace, respect one another and go about their normal businesses anywhere in the country, the Sultan advised citizens of the country not to allow the few bad ones amongst them to cause trouble for the peace loving people of Nigeria.
He, however, noted that such people who are bent on causing troubles should be called to order by their elder statesmen.
He said, “Nigeria will continue to remain one Nation with a common goal of purposeful development.
“The act of some few bad one’s amongst us cannot be left to tear the country apart and those bad one’s should be called to order by their elders and community leaders to stop such negative action.
“Traditional leaders in the country will continue to preach peace and love amongst the diverse communities in their respective domain and elders should also call the youth to order and educate them on the need for a peace full coexistence in their respective geopolitical zones”.
The Sultan said further that God has a purpose for bringing the diverse tribes, culture and religion together to form a single country called Nigeria, hence the need for Nigerians to collectively cherish, value and protect their sovereignty.a
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