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CLO, REPS WARN OF FRESH CRISIS IN PLATEAU

By NBF News
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The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and two members of the House of Representatives have raised the alarm over the possibility of a fresh crisis in Plateau State, where ethno-religious clashes have led to the death of scores of people.

They said in separate reactions to the crisis in the state that there was growing disenchantment by the people over the composition of the top hierarchy of the state police command, peopled by officials from a particular religion.

According to them, the skewed arrangement of the top hierarchy of the police command has led to a loss of confidence in the ability of the police to end the killings.

The CLO told some reporters in Jos at the weekend that the alleged lopsidedness in the police command was a violation of the federal character principle and had made those from other group to feel excluded because of the manner security agencies have been handling the crisis. The two lawmakers, in a statement by Hon. Bitrus Kaze, said the skewed arrangement of officers at the Police headquarters in Jos was the reason why the crisis in the state had persisted.

The lawmakers and the CLO alleged that the Commissioner of Police, his deputy, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), his counterpart in the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), Commander of the Police Mobile Force, Command 8 and the Divisional Police Officer in charge of 'A' Division are all from a particular religion.

President of the CLO, Titus Mann, said the situation where only people of a particular religion take decisions during crisis period was capable of inflaming tempers, especially when the crisis in the state was ethno-religious.

Mann said the situation in Plateau should have taught federal authorities that an arrangement which favoured a religion in contravention of the federal character principle could lead to lack of confidence on the part of those allegedly marginalised. He said: 'I have never bothered to know the configuration of the hierarchy of the police in Plateau State on religious or ethnic terms.

This should normally not be a cause for bother. But even in normal times, the diversity of our country, religious and ethnic, requires, indeed, demands that public institutions should be composed in a way that gives no impression that any particular group within this diversity is singled out of favour.

'This is the basis of the federal character principle. It is designed to give a sense of belonging to all our diverse groups. A sustained violation of it will cause a loss of confidence in government and public institution on the part of the group that is or feels excluded.

'And let's not deceive ourselves, the policemen and other security and military personnel are not immune from the pressures of ethnicity and religion which are the dominant identities in Nigeria.' The two lawmakers, representing Jos East/Jos South in the House of Representatives, decried a system that they claimed harboured grudges against a particular religion in a crisis situation.

'This informs why we have persistently decried the ignoble roles of some security agencies controlled by the federal government. If the experience in the endless circle of violence in Jos is anything to go by, then this deliberately skewed arrangement must be interpreted as an early warning that the enemies of Jos are strategically covered to strike again.