The Defence headquarters, through its Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) has established a non-governmental organisation known as Civil-Military Relief Initiative.
Defence spokesman, Brig. Gen. John Agim, disclosed this on Thursday while briefing the press on the activities of the OPSH being conducted by the combined forces of the military and other security agencies, in the North Central.
According to him, the NGO was set up to partner with well meaning organizations to promote peaceful co-existence amongst the citizens.
“This NGO is meant to disabuse the negative mindset and project the goodwill of OPSH to the people as part of its CIMIC activities.”
He also disclosed that the OPSH headquarters had earlier set up a committee to assess the extent of destructions within deserted villages and the possibility of establishing Strike Force Bases as a prelude to encouraging IDPs to return to their ancestral homes. He said the committee under took painstaking tour of 40 villages, adding that “OPSH will establish Forward Operation Bases in strategic locations to dominate the general area in order to give confidence to the inhabitants to return home.”
The defence spokesman however regretted that “some misguided youth are willing tools in the hands of some mischievous elites who use them to perpetrate the worst of heinous crimes on the Plateau.”
He disclosed that in order to help the youth population in the area channel their potentials and energy towards positive things, the Operation has concluded plans to organize a youth summit on December 19, 2018. He said that the summit, tagged “Re-energizing the Plateau Youth for Positive Development of the Society” will involve all youth associations in the 17 Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
He explained: “The Summit is aimed at sensitizing the youth population to re-focus their energy into productive ventures that will empower them to take onerous responsibilities of their tomorrow. It will be a practical and interactive summit, to re-invigorate the inert potentials of the youths into constructive ideas in building a virile society. OPSH strongly believes that the end product of the summit will enlighten the youths to have a changed mindset and also pick up the challenges of rebuilding strong and better relationship for peaceful co-existence on the plateau.”
Apart from the conduct of raid operations, cordon and search, fighting patrols, show of force leading to the arrest/detention of culprits, the OPSH, also regularly conducts peace building and security meeting with stakeholders to breach mistrust and animosity amongst different tribes and religious affiliations.
Agim said: “The OPSH has also conducted free medical outreach programme and donation of relief materials to some communities in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps within the Area of Responsibility. The high point of non-kinetic Operation conducted was the donation of various relief materials such as mattresses, blankets, pillows, mats, bags of rice, buckets, cooking oil and other essential commodities to the IDP camp located within the National Institutes of Mining and Geo-sciences in Anguldi, Jos on Friday 9 November 2018.”
On the insecurity in the region, Agim stated that “three vexed issues of ethnicity, religion and political affinity create a general state of mistrust and animosity often times degenerating into clashes. The insecurity that pervades the environment has also been shaped by acts of criminality due to the activities of cultists and other organized criminal groups.
“Similarly, the communal crisis that occasioned the displacements of some communities in Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, Mangu, and Riyom Local Government Areas in Plateau State following the Jun 18 attack bears significant humanitarian and security concerns. Just as the unfortunate ethno-religious crisis that occurred in Sep/Oct 18 also left scores of casualties including some students of University of Jos in its aftermath. This ethno-religious dimension has further induced fear, apprehension and general state of insecurity across the entire JOA. Most worrisome is also the political tension arising from the 10 Oct 18 LGA Elections conducted in 13 out of the 17 LGAs in the State. The Local Elections were characterised by large scale protests and agitations in the aftermath of the announcement of results which could have snowballed into ethno-religion crisis but for the proactive measures adopted to contain the protests.
“Another preventable development that shaped the security environment was the unfortunate killing of Maj Gen IM Alkali in Du District of Jos South LGA in Plateau State by suspected Berom militia which has further deepened the animosity betweensome affected communities. This mutual suspicion has further heightened the level of antagonism between the 2 communities bearing the livelihood to snowball into violent conflict at the slightest spark. Another dimension that shaped the security environment was the killing of the Agom Adara of Kachia Local Government Area in Kaduna State and subsequent sectarian disturbances which necessity HQ OPSH to put in measures to avoid spillover effect into Kafanchan as well as other areas within Southern Kaduna. OPSH has successfully restored relative normalcy within Jos-Bukuru metropolis and stabilized other area especially in the hinterland through the DHQ Op 777 initiative. The task ahead lies with dislodgement of identified threats in the southern boundary with Taraba State at Wase, Langtang North, Langtang South and Shendam LGAs where armed banditry and other militia groups are terrorising the local inhabitants. Thus, the focus of HQ OPSH regarding successes attained is the total restoration of law and order that would provide an environment of peaceful co-existence as contained in the CDS’ Ops Directives”.