By Martha Agas
Jos,Oct. 21st Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has said community leaders would be held responsible for any breach of peace in their domain.
The governor made this known during a strategic engagement with traditional, community and religious leaders on the unrest arising from the #End SARS protest in Jos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Lalong imposed a 24 hours curfew in Jos North and South Local Government Areas on Oct. 20.
This followed the destruction of properties and loss of lives as a result of the #EndSARS protest.
“I am therefore directing you to take lawful measures to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in your domains.
“Government will hold you accountable for any breach of peace if you fail to take necessary steps to maintain peace.
“You should engage and sensitise your people to the fact that violence has no place in the new Plateau that we are nurturing.
“Rather than embarked on the destruction of lives and properties at the slightest provocation, there are legitimate avenues to ventilate grievances in a democracy,” he said.
The governor said that the meeting was to have an interface with the stakeholders to maintain peace and ensure that the Plateau did not return to the dark days of unrest.
“Some people want the state to go back to ethno religious crisis by hijacking the protest, I will not allow people to be killed anyhow, “he said.
Lalong expressed concern that any religious crisis in Plateau would engulf the whole north, adding that information gathered was that there was influx of people from other states into Jos.
The governor said that the protest had gone beyond #EndSARS protest.
He said that the government was committed to adopt a community driven police architecture, saying the action must earn the trust of the people to fish out evil persons.
Lalong said Plateau was one of the pilot states for community policing, and selected persons were already in Makurdi for training to kick off the process.
He urged parents to advice their children to embrace the path of dialogue and engagement, while shunning violence, expressing concern that people were destroying lives and properties at the slightest provocation.
The governor said those with legitimate grievances should explore available channels including the courts for redress.
“This action does not in any way negate the constitutional right of citizens to undertake legitimate and peaceful protests.
“However, when such protests turn violent or are hijacked by miscreants and people with other motives, no responsible government will sit by and watch innocent citizens being terrorized,” he said.
Lalong called for patience for the letter of demands submitted to government on the disbanded SARS to be addressed.
He prayed that the gathering would proffer recommendations on maintaining peace in the state.
Speaking at the meeting, the Plateau Commissioner of Police, Mr Edward Egbuka said there was mass political interference of protest.
He said the peace in Plateau was still fragile, saying the protest degenerated to ethno religious unrest, saying eight vehicles were burnt in a clash between protesters and hoodlums.
Egbuka said five deaths had been recorded and worship centers destroyed, adding that policemen had been deployed to strategic positions in Jos North and South Local Government Areas.
He urged the leaders to pacify the youths in their communities in order to forestall further unrest.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Plateau Council of Chiefs and Emirs, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, said that the meeting should not be a blame game, but to ensure issues were properly addressed.
He said that peace was critical to ensure rapid development, freedom to worship and engage in economic activities.
Naija247news, reports that resolutions of the meeting includes: an interface with the youths; tertiary institutions should be re-opened to engage the youths and inter religious councils should be resuscitated.
Other resolutions include: Security agencies should intensify efforts to forestall further breakdown of law and order; enforcement of community policing and the unmasking of the sponsors of the protest, among others.