ONCE UPON A TIME WHEN BAIL WAS FREE

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Nigeria’s collective national security and military establishment started in 1863. It was well financed by the Royal Niger Company. The gradual separation came with the Niger River Constabulary in 1888 at Lokoja. Then came the Niger Coast Constabulary in 1894 at Calabar and eventually the Lagos Police in 1896.

Sir John Hawley Glover was an officer under the command of Dr. William Balfour Baikie both of the Royal Navy. Glover was the Lagos governor from 1863 to 1874 and Baikie the British consul of what became the colonial contours of what eventually became Nigeria under Lord Lugard from 1857 to 1859;
“Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigerian Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”

Dr. Baikie introduced the use of Quinine for the treatment of Malaria in our clime, authored; Observations on the Hausa and Fuifuide Languages printed in 1861 and previously in 1856; Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Kwora and Binue. He collected vocabularies of nearly fifty languages, and translated portions of the Holy Bible and prayer-book into Hausa and Arabic. His translation of the Psalms into Hausa was published by the Bible Society in 1881. More importantly he established Lokoja;
“After purchasing the site, and concluding a treaty with the Fula emir of Nupe, he proceeded to clear the ground, build houses, form enclosures and pave the way for a future city. In less than five years he had opened up the navigation of the Niger, made roads, and established a market to which the native produce was brought for sale and barter. His settlement grew to include representatives of almost all the tribes of West-Central Africa, and more than 2,000 traders visited the town in its first three years.”

Lest we forget as Ghanaian authorities harass and intimidate Nigerian traders;
“Glover was employed to repel incursions of the Ashantis. When the Third Anglo-Ashanti War broke out in September 1873 he landed at Cape Coast, and, after forming a small trustworthy force of Hausa, marched to Accra. His influence sufficed to gather a numerous native force.
In January 1874 Captain Glover was able to render some assistance in the taking of Kumasi, but it was at the head of a Hausa force.”

The Nigerian Police Force has always been segmented along regional lines each headed by a Commissioner reporting to an Inspector-General in Lagos. Chief Louis Orok Edet (1914-1979) became the first Nigerian IGP between 1964 and 1966. Back then every Commissioner had a network of Native Authority Police formations. The Nigerian Immigration Service, Correctional Services, Federal Road Safety Corps and Civil Defense were all carved out of police duties.

By 1966, onwards the Police became more centralized at the federal level. Under IBB it became Nigerian Police when Force was removed. The reason was obvious. If IGP Sunday Adewusi had had his way under President Shehu Shagari the military coup of December 31, 1983 would not have taken place. The rest as they say is now history as the Nigeria Police became systematically underfunded. During the era of President Shagari the monthly pay of a Constable was increased to N400 and personnel strength reached 152, 000. Now it is 375,000 with a huge chunk outsourced to VIPs, financial institutions, government assets, private company premises, traditional rulers and even celebrities.

The Glover’s Hausas were at the vanguard of dismantling slavery and the notorious slave trade across Nigeria particularly in defeating the Sokoto caliphate. It consisted of martial oriented tribes from all nooks and crannies of what later became Nigeria including from parts of present day Niger, Tchad, Cameroon to as far as the Darfur region of Sudan. Hausa therefore in Glover’s context was not an ethnicity but a Lingua Franca that is why an Ibadan Signals officer like Raji Rasaki would more than a hundred years later with ease ask in Lagos; “Who build dis gada?”

For the Nigerian Police to become more effective it has to be more decentralized and modernized. With a population of over 200 million our police apparatus has to be increasingly technological based. Crime prevention and solving value added with forensic and IT capacities. Patrols have to include drones. Increased CCTV coverage is also imperative. All these are capital intensive. This means the cost of governance must drastically reduce in Nigeria. The Nigerian political class have become a major burden on the rest of the polity at expense of our collective security.

Warts and all, the police is your friend. If not call a thug when next you are in trouble! Every society gets the kind of police it deserves. If we want better policing we must better ourselves first!

Jos, Plateau is still the home of peace: violence is on tourism there now though.

October, 2018

PRESS RELEASE

A POINT OF ORDER!
Of recent, the Berom nation has been inundated with an avalanche of hate speeches, write ups, press releases, conferences and even protests by some groups and individuals within and outside Nigeria.

Notable among them are the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), with various captions such as, ”Matters arising from the Plateau”, “Stop Berom Terrorists now” and “Berom Christians, the real terrorists”.

The Berom nation takes serious exception to this smear campaign which is aimed at demonizing the Berom, heightening religious hatred and intolerance. To us, these narratives are largely blatant lies, others contradictory in terms, misleading or merely the figments of the authors’ imagination.

It is obvious that the purpose of all the write-ups is to change the well known narrative of sustained Fulani aggression and territorial expeditions against the Berom. According to this deliberate distortion of facts and reality, Berom Christians are vilified as evil, terrorists and cannibals fitting exactly into the schemes and justification of our detractors and invaders of our communities.
It would appear logical from their narration therefore, to continually brutalize, dispossess, displace and massacre innocent and defenseless peasants, women and children. It is quite revealing that none of these accounts made any reference to the past and present losses of the Berom in terms of lives, crops, farmlands, sacked communities and the displaced currently languishing in make-shift camps as IDPs. We dare to ask, who killed Rev. Bitrus Manjang, the then retired Vice President, Church Of Christ In Nations, (COCIN), in Rim village? Have the killers of Distinguished Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong or that of Hon. Gyang Fulani, the then Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly been brought to justice, not to talk of the killers of a First Class Chief in Bokkos LGA, Da Lazarus Agai, the Saf Ron Kulere? Have we forgotten so soon, several massacres (genocide?) of Dyenburuk (Dogo Nahawa), Gashish and Riyom in June 2018 and most recently, Loh-Pamdyet, where thousands of innocent lives have been wasted?

We find it very dubious to isolate the unfortunate disappearance of Major Gen. Idris Alkali and treat it outside the context of security challenges bedeviling Plateau State now for nearly two decades. In fact, to do this, it would conspicuously imply that thousands of wasted Berom lives do not count, neither do their property, farmlands and homes, even when from their ancestry, they remain unconquered people except for the British. More intriguing is the ignorance being feigned that there are no Muslims amongst the Berom when in fact, thousands of them are indeed devout Muslims, with some highly placed as Sheiks and Khadis. How on earth do we excuse Professors Salisu Shehu and Ishaq Akintola if they both claim not to know that the urban setting and cosmopolitan nature of Jos, the Plateau State capital demands a higher level of responsibility on any statements involving criminality? Again, how acceptable is the narration that every act of criminality in Jos is defined by the twin frames of Berom ethnicity and Christian identity, when indeed armed banditry, robbery and cattle rustling are organized by syndicates that transcend religious and ethnic boundaries?
In our view, “no matter how thick suspicion is, it does not translate into a fact”. The Berom nation strongly holds that the mere discovery of a car in veryunclear circumstances at a particular location does not immediately incriminate an entire community, no matter how much we are hated or demonized. Justice demands that particular culprits be fished out through established procedures of scientific and criminal investigation practiced all over the world. This is what we expect in the circumstance, not for the Nigerian Army to indiscriminately arrest and harass community members and passers-by including heavily pregnant women and the aged with the aim of torturing them and “cowing” them to make statements under duress.

It is unbelievable and indeed ungodly that highly regarded Islamic bodies under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, can fall to the low ebb of becoming abusive on fellow citizens. These bodies have chosen to malign and unscrupulously label an entire ethnic nationality as “… a bunch of evil and deadly ethnic supremacists whose brazen show of cannibalism astounded the world…”. How we wish that these Islamic bodies stood up for true religion that considers human life sacred and upholds the tenets of justice to all for the promotion of peace and peaceful coexistence without prejudices to ethnicity, religious differences or social status.

The fact remains that the particular incident being used in this wild allegation and abuse, like many others including Loh-Pamdyet, Dyenburuk, Gashish, Riyom, Jol, Fan and Foron are yet to definitively deal with specific individuals or groups that have been found culpable from an official investigation. Today however, what the Berom nation is confronted with is the biased speculation and religiously motivated campaign to justify the dispossession and extermination of its people.

More fundamentally, we consider the labeling of the yet unknown perpetrator(s) of the disappearance of Major General Idris Alkali, as “Berom Christian terrorists” as not only prejudicial but malicious and inciting, meant only to further entrench religious bigotry and hatred.
Here, the question that demands an answer is whether the so called Prof. Ishaq Akintola who issued the statement by Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC has any evidence that there is an established Christian terrorist network that is Berom either in the said community or Berom land? Otherwise, what is the aim of statements such as “the General was targeted by Berom Christian terrorists because he was a Muslim passing through Berom territory”? What is the basis for calling the Berom a terrorist nation? Have the Berom ever attacked any community within or outside Plateau? Are the Berom the ones fighting in the North East, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Benue, Zamfara and Southern Kaduna?

On reading the statements, one wonders whether Berom Christians or better still, Christians in Plateau State have any rights at all.
The disappearance of General Idris Alkali is without doubt, painful and unfortunate. However, this must be explained in a proper perspective of the prevailing general insecurity, the compromised security agents and the quality of governance amongst others. The Berom nation has never and shall not tolerate criminality or cover bad elements in any way. Nonetheless, it shall not fold its arms nor keep quiet when lies, ill conceived narrations and thoroughly biased statements are unleashed in bad faith on the unsuspecting public. We pledge as a people to contribute our own quarter as we have always done to the collective struggle of uniting Nigeria and restoring peaceful coexistence, tolerance and the fear of God in our society.

We encourage the Media to stand on the side of the truth using incontrovertible facts to show the world the forces and factors at work on the Plateau, never to lose objectivity on the platter of intimidation, threats or ethnic and religious sentiments.
As far as the Berom nation is concerned, its people and communities are victims of sustained terrorist attacks by the Fulani which are aimed at dispossessing and annihilating them from their ancestral lands and heritage. On this, it must be said that no matter the terror and killings of our people, not a single inch of Berom land shall be ceded to Fulani occupiers and their cohorts in this 21st century , neither will we succumb to the wishes of paid political surrogates and thugs like one so called Rotdunna Sekat, calling for the deposition of our highly revered First Class Royal Father, His Majesty Da (Dr.) Jacob Gyang Buba and the arrest of former Plateau State Governor, Distinguished Senator Jonah David Jang as accomplices to the attacks and killings in their own land against their own people. How ironic this can be… blaming the victim! The so called Sekat who goes with several pseudo names such as “Kim Bulus” and “Loiusanta”, should rightfully be in the custody of security agents if his concocted and confused claims have any substance or better still a rehabilitation centre where lunatics and substance abusers receive help.

Lastly, evidence abounds for all that care to know that the Berom are peaceful, hospitable and accommodating. That is why Plateau State won for itself the appellation of the “Home of Peace and Tourism”.

Signed:
Da Iliya Choji Kim
Vice President, Berom Educational and Cultural Organization, BECO

OUR HOMES

Graveyard
It was always dark in all it lack;
All living again, though to us all,
Today it still lingers far off back
In that long night we still do fall.

These cultures that speak the person
Say an Abiku again is every one of us.
For common reason proves a season,
That only event ended and started us.

When the cries over sharia had settled,
We ran and scattered the town’s streets.
Homeless, dead and alive all kettled;
Schemed and steamed out of fair streets.

After all, a rope always starts and ends,
Then it is just after all rope in between.
All of man is birth and the dead ends,
In between is life; man is in between.

After dusk, all return to their own home.
The swine’s streets of our homes will then
Not be as good again to even just roam,
For the transit pen is now a lion’s den.

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