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HomeEducationAnalysis: Nigerian Army Touts ‘Peace Agreements’ Amid Ongoing Violence in Plateau State

Analysis: Nigerian Army Touts ‘Peace Agreements’ Amid Ongoing Violence in Plateau State

Local Residents Claim Army Sides with Terrorists, Mislabels Citizen Guards Trying to Defend Neighborhoods

By Masara Kim

(Bokkos) Residents in Central Plateau State claim the army is imposing “peace deals” in communities reeling from months of terrorists attacks, claiming that  it is the referee standing between warring militias.  The army has announced through official tweets on X is implementing a non-kinetic approach to “confrontations between militia groups”. 

Representatives of the majority Christian natives association have cried “foul,” charging that Army covered up extrajudicial killings of students and pointing out that the Army narrative is belied by the facts of longstanding terrorist landgrabs by radicalized Islamists in the state.

The Army’s statement on X denies that it is brokering peace agreements. It insists that “allegations which pointed out that there are purported peace agreements brokered by Sector 5 of Operation SAFE HAVEN between the various ethnic groups in Butura Kampani, Chikam, Kunet and neighboring communities is in furtherance of the group’s desperate efforts to remain relevant while discrediting the ongoing efforts of security agencies to foster peaceful coexistence among the residents of the Joint Operations Area,” according to its X account.  “It is therefore necessary to set the record straight in order not to mislead the public and undermine the positive strides made by security agencies,” the Army goes on to write.

“As part of non-kinetic efforts to de-escalate tension in Bokkos and Mangu Local Government Areas of Plateau State, Operation Safe Haven facilitated an expanded stakeholders’ engagement at Headquarters 3 Division on 24 April 2024.”

The stakeholders invited to meet with the generals at their divisional headquarters in Jos did not include press. In fact, after two students were killed by Fulani terrorists near the University campus, and several students suffered bullet wounds from soldiers’ rifles, the university authorities shut down the campus for days and maintained a media blackout. Neither the university officials nor the military gave any account as to what happened.

Tribal Association Lawyer Pushes Back Against Army Narrative

Mr. Jonathan Jonah Chung, a student leader at Plateau state university Bokkos shot in the thigh by soldiers led by Col. Ofurumazi. Credit: Masara Kim.
Mr. Jonathan Jonah Chung, a student leader at Plateau state university Bokkos shot in the thigh by soldiers led by Col. Ofurumazi. Credit: Masara Kim.

“For over a decade, these aggressors have primarily engaged in targeted land grabbing, arson, destruction of farm crops, intimidation, and mass murder of indigenous Christians in local communities,” wrote barrister Farmasum Fuddang, the youth Chairman of Bokkos Cultural Development Council (BCDC) in a press release.

“The government and the military have not taken any major steps in response to our repeated calls for improved security amid the invasion and genocide the people of Bokkos still suffer at the hands of the Fulani terrorists,” wrote Fuddang in a press statement.

“Instead of addressing the root issues, the military, under the leadership of Col. C.Y. Ofurumazi as the new Commander of the Sector 5, continues to label our peaceful communities as militias,” Fuddang wrote.

“They harass, intimidate, and in some cases, shoot, arrest, and disarm our people, even going to the extent of confiscating basic defensive weapons like cutlasses and Dane guns,” Fuddang continued.

“Meanwhile, the terrorists are fully armed with sophisticated weapons and operate with impunity, wreaking havoc unchecked,” Fuddang wrote in a press release.

“This same crop of individuals are the ones the military seeks to compel us to enter into so-called peace agreements with, when same energy should be focused towards identifying the criminal elements to ensure their prosecution and the delivery of justice for crimes committed against the peace-loving people of Bokkos Local Government,” wrote Fuddang, a rights attorney in the statement shared with TruthNigeria.

Plateau State Officials Say Meetings Did Not Include Them

Col. Cyril Ofurumazi [R], Commander of Operation Safe Haven in Bokkos, Nigeria.  Credit: Masara Kim.
Col. Cyril Ofurumazi [R], Commander of Operation Safe Haven in Bokkos, Nigeria. Credit: Masara Kim.

In a County where close to 300 Christians were murdered in their houses during the six-day murder spree in December called “Black Christmas,” the level of fear and anxiety among the majority Christian population of Bokkos (County) Local Governance Area, is high, local citizens tell TruthNigeria.

 After a series of controversial missteps by the Nigerian Army to answer calls for help by Bokkos residents in mid-April, and the documented firing by soldiers on unarmed protesting students on April 19, the Army commander has claimed that he stands as a honest broker between Christian militias firing pipe guns and Fulani-ethnic militia armed with assault weapons.  After a “stakeholder meetings” behind closed doors April 24, the Army has announced that its non-kinetic approach is working in a “bottom-top” manner.  The stake-holder meetings included representatives of the Fulani tribe that maintains cattle herds and a fixed settlements close to the campus as well as representatives of the University administration and numerous civil society groups in the area.

“It is imperative to state that the meeting was well attended with critical stakeholders from all sides of the divide in attendance as well as representatives of the Plateau State Government,” the military statement reads.  “As a fallout of the meeting, it was agreed that the bottom-top crisis resolution approach should be employed to bring a lasting solution to the crisis experienced in the aforementioned Local Government Areas,” it stated.

“Consequent upon the foregoing, troops of Sector 5 Operation SAFE HAVEN were invited by the civil authorities of Bokkos Local Government Area to witness one of such engagements at Butura Kampani on 30 April 2024,” according to the Army. “Suffice to state that at no point in time did the troops of Sector 5 Operation SAFE HAVEN impose any peace agreement on any group of persons under any guise,” the statement notes

The Chairman of the Bokkos county, Monday Kassah, denied inviting the military to witness any peace meeting since the April 30 meeting facilitated by the military authorities which merely aimed to assess the security situation in the area.

“Meetings were held without my knowledge,” wrote Kassah in a text message to TruthNigeria.

Mr. James Lalu, the member representing Mangu and Bokkos counties at the Nigerian House of Representatives has condemned the army’s approach, noting it is unsustainable.

“Impossible,” wrote Lalu in a reply to a text message from TruthNigeria inquiring about his support for the initiative.

“Peace should not be imposed by anyone,” wrote a former fellow of the United States Institute of Peace, Professor Chris Kwaja.

“We must engage communities and work with them towards finding durable solutions,” wrote Kwaja, a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria.

“In winning the hearts and minds of the people, the military should be careful, not to enforce peace,” wrote Kwaja to TruthNigeria. “Peace should be built as a public good, rather than forged on people,” Kwaja wrote in a text message. Known for its large tin and potato exports, Bokkos Local Government [County], dominated by the majority Christian Ron, Kulere and Mushere ethnicities has seen numerous attacks displacing thousands in recent years. More than 300

Christians were slaughtered during a six-day onslaught last December. Governor Caleb Mutfwang has insisted the attacks in Plateau state attributed to

terrorists identifying as members of the Fulani ethnicity are genocidal, aimed at land-grab and ethnic displacements.

The Fulani, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group with significant political influence in Nigeria, have been implicated in numerous genocidal attacks, killing six times more Christians than Boko Haram in recent years, according to the UK-based nonprofit Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.

Between January 2023 and January 2024, Fulani terrorists reportedly were responsible for over 8,200 Christian deaths across Nigeria, with the most egregious acts of violence recorded last Christmas Eve and the days following according to the international genocide tracking nonprofit Intersociety.

The “Black Christmas” attacks have roiled rights defenders across the world, with the U.S. and European Parliaments pushing for sanctions on Nigeria

Masara Kim is an award winning conflict reporter in Jos, and the senior editor of TruthNigeria



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