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Tackling insecurity in Plateau through non-kinetic approach

By Polycarp Auta [NAN]

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On assumption of duty in April 2020, as the 12th Commander, Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Maj.-Gen. Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, declared that the operation would largely rely on “non-kinetic” approach to restore lasting peace in the areas of joint operation.

The task force, established 10 years ago, has the mandate to maintain and restore lasting peace to Plateau. Later the scope was expanded to cover parts of Bauchi and Kaduna states.

Following the new approach, checkpoints hitherto mounted within Jos metropolis were dismantled and troops were deployed to the interior parts of state.

As part of interaction with stakeholders, Okonkwo met with the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), to discuss possible ways of ending cattle rustling, believed to be one of the factors responsible for insecurity in the state.

Okonkwo urged the cattle breeders to eschew violence, avoid taking laws into their hands and embrace peace.

“Appreciable progress has been made in recovering some of the rustled cows, while steps to recover the remaining ones are under way.

“The state government is aware of your predicament and efforts are being made to address them.”

The Chairman of MACBAN in the locality, Alhaji Shuaibu Bayero, thanked the commander for his efforts toward achieving lasting peace in the state since assumption of office.

He, however, urged the commander to ensure that all the stolen cows were recovered, saying that this was the only means of livelihood of his members.

Bayero said that his members, particularly the youths, had been cautioned to eschew any form of violence and desist from counter-attacks as a way of expressing their grievances.

He assured the commander of their support and cooperation to enable him succeed in his quest for lasting peace in the state

Similarly, during a visit to the acting President, Bassa Traditional Council and Brra Nggwe Irigwe, Rev. Ronku Aka, the commander urged traditional rulers in the state to support in ensuring lasting peace in all parts of the state.

Okonkwo, who revealed some of the strategies adopted by the operation to tackle all forms of criminality in the state, added that the support and cooperation of the traditional rulers was key.

According to him, the task force would continue to engage critical stakeholders toward ending insecurity, adding that it would largely adopt the non-kinetic approach in stemming the wanton killings that has over time engulfed the state.

“We have adopted some approaches to end the lingering crises in this area and the state in general.

“Part of this approach is constant dialogue with relevant stakeholders, and the traditional institution is very key in this regard.

“This approach forms part of the non-kinetic activities adopted by the operation to stem wanton killings in the state,”

The commander noted that troops would continue to carry out coordinated operations within its areas of operation in order to restore total peace.

He appealed to the Fulani and Irigwe communities in the area to eschew violence and embrace peace for the growth and progress of the area and the state in general.

The Brra Nggwe Irigwe, thanked the military for its efforts in ensuring that lasting peace returns to the state and promised continued support and collaboration of traditional rulers to enable it succeed in its task of securing lives and property in the state.

Okonkwo also called for synergy among security agencies to quicken ending the lingering attacks and counter attacks in the state.

Okonkwo who spoke when he visited Mr Edwin Egbuka, the Commissioner of Police in the state, sought for close partnership with the command in combating insecurity in its areas of operation.

He noted that Plateau was before now known for peace, and promised to do all within his powers to restore lasting peace to all the nooks and crannies of the state.

Okonkwo, who solicited for the support and cooperation of the police, promised to enhance the existing relationship between the OPSH and the police.

Responding, Egbuka promised to work closely with OPSH in its bid to restore lasting peace in Plateau, stressing that the existing relationship had yielded positive results.

On the core mandate of the task force, Okonkwo assured Plateau residents that his men would remain neutral and professional in the fight against insecurity.

He said that the personnel of the operation would not take sides with any individual or group of persons in order to win the trust and confidence of the people.

“A lot has been done in fighting insecurity in areas under our operation, but we shall consolidate on the gains already achieved

“We shall mostly use non-kinetic target approach to nip insecurity in the bud.

“Most importantly, we shall remain neutral and professional so that we can gain the trust of the people.”

Okonkwo further said that troops of the operation would be proactive in responding to distress calls, adding that it would maximise the limited resources at its disposal to produce results.

As part of Civil-Military Relations (CMR) the task force has constructed four boreholes, with 10 under construction, and renovated blocks of classrooms in various communities of Plateau.

Similarly, the Army Headquarters constructed and equipped a clinic at Tigi in Ryom Local Government Area of the state. The medical facility was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai in October, 2020.

At the inauguration of some other projects at Nkindero and Dutse-Uku communities of Bassa Local Government Area, Okonkwo said that the gesture was aimed at cementing relationship with its host communities and also part of its non-kinetic approach in fighting insecurity.

“We can’t achieve peace by fire, but it is a collective thing. So, what we are doing today will further promote peaceful coexistence among the people.”

Rear-Admiral Habila Ngalabak, the Chief, Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC), DHQ, reiterated that the gesture was aimed at promoting civil-military relations.

“The DHQ has initiated and developed these projects in order to promote Civil-Military Relations.

“The purpose is to win the hearts and minds of the rural people, but most importantly, to give the rural dwellers a stake.

“It is to show the people that we are not only concerned about fighting insecurity, but their welfare is of great importance to the military.”

Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau thanked the military for the gesture, adding that it would go a long way to engender peace in the state.

The governor assured of government’s support for the military to succeed.

“We deeply appreciate the military hierarchy for supporting us in providing amenities in critical sectors of health, water and education to our people.

“We thank you for not only protecting our lives, but providing development for our people.”

Also, as part of its social responsibility, the task force distributed palliatives to communities within its area of operation to cushion the hardship occasioned by the advent of coronavirus

“We have been engaged in a couple of Civil-Military Relations activities; to engender peaceful coexistence among the people

“We have shared palliatives to several communities in six local government areas of Plateau and in other communities within our areas of operations to cushion the hardship brought by COVID-19.

“This is just a token, because it can never be enough. It is just our little way of supporting the communities to coexist peacefully devoid of religious or ethnic differences,” Okonkwo said.

With the new strategies in place, stakeholders are optimistic that insecurity in Plateau would soon be a thing of the past, while the state would return to its original status as the home of peace, tourism and hospitality. (NANFeatures)

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