By Muhammad Ajah
“It is not a common knowledge that any group(s) of people is more powerful than the government in Nigeria. No! Any individual or group that stands against the state must be dealt with accordingly. That has been the case before now. This case cannot be different. One Labaran Saleh posted on his Facebook page about the growing penchant by the Beroms to murder military high personnel. He said: “The Berom terrorists did not start killing of military Generals with the cold blood murder of General Alkali, they are also responsible for killing the late General Murtala Rahamat Mohammed in 1976 when he was the military head of state. The action was carried out by Bisallah and Dimka all Beroms”.”
If Nigerian military men can be killed by citizens under whatever guise and nothing is done, then Nigeria is under siege and danger. If a general of the Nigerian Army can be killed by any group under whatever pursuit and the media keep silent for whatever reason, then the media of that place is biased and subjugated. If the life of any citizen of Nigeria has become worthless over wanton killing, then Nigerians themselves are challenged and must rise to find lasting solution to the menace.
The operations to rescue victims of Du Pond in Plateau state should be an eye opener for the leadership of the country. It should not stop there. All the death ponds across Nigeria should be discovered and Nigeria must be free from the unwarranted and willful deaths and killings of its citizens by its enemies. It must be in collaboration with the people. Supporting the government to overcome the civil disturbances across the country is a civic responsibility on every citizen. People should stop hiding or siding criminality on the grounds of religion and ethnicity.
The gruesome murder and dumping of Major General Mohammed Idris Alkali in the secret pond by the Beroms in Plateau state should be a great blow to the Nigerian security. It is commendable the efforts being made to unravel the secrets. The search by the military, though initially not very prompt, has revealed many other surreptitious ponds. It has revealed the secret killing of Nigerian citizens by the Beroms for a long time on a federal road that connects many states in the northeast. This is unacceptable to patriots of Nigeria.
It is iniquity and sadism. It is, however, very worrisome that the Nigerian and international media seem to be tactically careful in reporting this ugly development. Is it because it is clear that a group has been largely targeted victims of the secret killings on the Jos federal road, as it used to be the case on the Gonin Gora federal road in Kaduna? Travelers across Nigeria by any means deserve protection.
One is surprised that the search and investigation took long. That is if it has ended. One is more surprised that arrests have been made of the minors in the case, while no seniors have been touched or even torched. Why? It is unbecoming in a country where the constitution guarantees equal rights for every citizen or group. The killing of Nigerians traveling on federal roads or anywhere in Nigeria is a crime against the federal government. I can vividly recall what happened to the Zaki Biams and Odi people. I can also recall the nemesis that befell the Niger Delta people for fighting under diverse guises against the federal government. More recently, the ordeals of Zakzaki and his followers are fresh in memory.
It is not a common knowledge that any group(s) of people is more powerful than the government in Nigeria. No! Any individual or group that stands against the state must be dealt with accordingly. That has been the case before now. This case cannot be different. One Labaran Saleh posted on his Facebook page about the growing penchant by the Beroms to murder military high personnel. He said: “The Berom terrorists did not start killing of military Generals with the cold blood murder of General Alkali, they are also responsible for killing the late General Murtala Rahamat Mohammed in 1976 when he was the military head of state. The action was carried out by Bisallah and Dimka all Beroms”.
The military recently paraded many suspects associated with the case. Among them was the organizer of over 500 half-naked women demonstrators who attempted disruption of the military search of the pond. Garrison Commander of Maxwell Khobe Cantonment in Rukuba, near Jos, also Head of Search and Rescue Team, Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohammed, said suspects included direct perpetrators of the crime, supporters and the pond guards. The Police Public Relations Office, DSP Tyopev Terna confirmed the arrests who have been arraigned in court and remanded in prison.
While the media have been unimpressive in the matter, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has been consistent in exposing the truth of the whole matter. MURIC wants all the Berom killers and their sponsors to be arrested and prosecuted. Its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, opined that the suspects could not have committed the crime alone, since they were ordinary Berom citizens who cannot finance “the recruitment of hitmen, store weapons, train the militia and distribute arms”.
According to him, the Plateau crisis festered because nobody was ever punished in spite of the regular killings and it would continue to defy solutions until the big guns behind the killings are dealt with the same way their errand boys are being treated now. There must be no sacred cows in this case. He tried to link this with the several containers with arms and ammunitions seized at the borders particularly during the present Buhari administration. He noted that such seizures began only after there was a change of leadership both in the Federal Government and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), an indication that the illegal smuggling of arms into the country has been going on for long with the tacit support of the immediate past government at the federal level.
MURIC carpeted the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) under Samson Ayokunle for it silence and not condemning the Berom Christian terrorists the same way that Muslims condemned Boko Haram. “Nigerian Muslims washed their hands off Boko Haram terrorists even when they attacked Christians. But CAN president wants to pamper Berom Christian terrorists even when it is evident that they have been responsible for the killing of hundreds of their Muslim neighbours and other Muslims and Fulanis who were mere travelers passing through the axis.” Akintola wondered why CAN president was quick to condemn the action of security agents but found it difficult to condemn the Berom Christian terrorists.
More worrisome was the delegation led by the Plateau state governor, Simon Bako Lalong to Army Headquarters Abuja, to beg the Nigerian Army not to avenge the General Alkali’s murder. Though this can be described as an acceptance of guilt, the state government had confirmed through a statement by the director of press and public affairs, Emmanuel Nanle, that public properties worth millions of naira were destroyed by protesters over the Barkin-ladi killings precipitated by the army general’s murder. A foremost online medium, Premium Times, reported that the statement identified the conveners of the protest as operating under the joint auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Northern Zone of Plateau State, the Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN), Plateau State and Bazata Gospel Team, though infiltrated by hoodlums.
The secret killing of Nigerians for different reasons is a recurring decimal. I think the Statistician General of Nigeria and his institution have to wake up and keep these records too. Killing of traditional rulers, kidnapping and displacement of innocent compatriots as well as marketing human parts are cruelties against the nation. The death of many Nigerians under suspicious circumstances should not be commonplace. It is becoming a concern because top citizens are becoming targets.
The truth is that there are ponds of death scattered across Nigeria. With the discovery of the Du Pond, the security agencies should not relent. They should find out where possibly other Da, Di and Do Ponds are located. There are reports of daily kidnap of citizens and nothing is heard of the victims afterwards. It is the stories of the influential citizens that are being reported and actions immediately taken. It should not be so. Nigerians have equal rights to protection of life and property. However, the Alkali’s episode has led to discoveries that would have remained covert so long the atrocities and the cover-up lasted.
It is very critical at this time that the security agencies work round the clock with open eyes and ears at alert. They must be provided with enough equipment to protect themselves and the citizens. It is election periods and assuredly the trading on human parts and other substances by some political office seekers has been reported. Many reports are already trending on ritualists, including teenagers, caught in many places with human parts. A narration of what happened to man around my neighbourhood is disturbing. It is happening to many citizens across Nigeria.
Baby factories have become lucrative business. Reports of people hanging themselves or jumping into lagoons without pre-information or just disappearing from their vicinities are increasingly awful. A man was reported of going to withdraw some money for his close relation for an urgent family demand and could not return. The family took fast action by reporting to the police. They took further action by organizing prayers through Imams of the Mosques around them. They spent heavily for the prayers. They involved neighbours and after three days the man was discovered in a place within the metropolis to narrate his ordeal.
He was trekking along a road after withdrawing the money. The next thing he could recall was that he struggled with three men who forced him to inhale a substance. He was pushed into a jeep where he met four other victims who could scarcely understand themselves. After a short-long journey, they all found themselves in a human parts market. They were told it was underground between two cities. By then, they could feel little of their senses. They could see people come in, buy whatever part of body they asked for and go. Victims were tied up. Customers may even demand for full bodies that would require victims being slaughtered, packaged and carried out. Some customers would come for blood alone which was sold in measurement – in litters. Some would come and demand for life humans who would be induced with substances inhaled or through injection, depending on the duration the customers’ destination would take to reach.
In his presence, his narration continued, other four victims kidnapped together were killed and sold. But each time his turn reached, the customer would shout “No, not this one!” This continued for several times until the sellers were fed up of him. They tied him up, brought him out of the dungeon and put him in a jeep. He was abandoned with his handset far away from where he was taken. The money he had withdrawn was gone but he was alive. Finally he reunited with his family and remained unconscious for a month.
It is election period and many things are happening. Parents and guardians should police their environs. They should monitor the movements of their children and wards, not only from being kidnapped for rituals or ransom but against being involved in political thuggery which often claim the lives of participants or disfigure them permanently. On the side of the government, protection of the lives of the security personnel and all the citizens is paramount. I wish Nigerians safe trips on federal roads in Plateau, Kaduna and other states of the Federation.
*Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.