…as govt pledges to include Muslims

An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), on Wednesday accused the Plateau State governor, Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang, of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiments in the state by leaving out Muslims in the membership of his 11-person security council.

MURIC said Governor Mutfwang, by his action, had demonstrated his unpreparedness for a long-term peaceful resolutions of the ongoing crisis in Plateau, “a state that faces one of the worst security threats in the country”.

Governor Mutfwang had earlier on Wednesday presented a list of members for the security committee tasked with finding lasting solutions to the ethno-religious crises affecting the state.

The members of the committee are “AVM. Napoleon Bali (rtd), HRH Da Gyang Buba, Prof. Gyanyir Lombin, Gen G.G. Shipi (rtd), DIG Felix Vwamhi (rtd), DIG Habila Jwalshak (rtd), Major Toholman Daffi (rtd), Arc Samuel Jatau, Coordinator Operation Rainbow and one representative from PIDAN”, according to a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Arc. Samuel N. Jatau.

But MURIC, in a press statement by its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, decried the non-inclusion of Muslims in the 11-man committee, alleging the governor was more concerned about “how to eliminate Muslims and Fulanis from the state”.

“With large numbers of people being killed in the state on a regular basis and with the general knowledge that the brouhaha is between indigenes of the state and residents who have settled there more than a hundred years ago, Mutfwang is still yet to realise that he as the leader needs to carry all parties along if he wants genuine peace. His latest move has exposed his anti-Muslim body language,” Akintola said.

MURIC strongly condemned the composition of the committee, which it described as “parochial, archaic and prebendal”. It argued that “nothing objective can come out of such a highly partisan committee”, saying “it is also a declaration of total war on Muslims in the state”.

“The governor of Plateau State is living in self-denial. In his illusion, he believes that the solution to the Plateau crisis lies in the hands of the indigenes alone. But whoever heard of an orchestra pianist who swore to use only one key colour. What kind of music will he produce? To get the best tunes from a piano, one needs both the white and black keys. We hope Mutfwang is listening,” Akintola said.

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“Neither the governor nor the indigenes can deceive Nigerians. Not anymore. Not long after they have been caught pants down over the General Alkali affair during which even their women joined in the attempt to fool the army who came searching for the late general’s body. Not long after that the indigenes killed dozens of Muslims travelling through Jos. Not all Nigerians suffer from general amnesia.

“Like Joshua Dariye before him who declared that Plateau State is a Christian state, like Jonah Jang who supervised the killing of a large number of Muslims under him, Mutfwang has failed in statecraft and fallen short of the grace of leadership. Only those who can tolerate the minority succeed in the art of statesmanship,” he said.

The MURIC leader said the panacea to the Plateau imbroglio lies in carrying all stakeholders along, urging the governor to come down his high horse and realised that “even as executive governor of a whole state, he cannot clap with one hand”.

Meanwhile, following the outcry by MURIC and other Muslim communities who complained of exclusion, the Plateau State government has pledged to include Muslims in the security committee.

“The attention of the Plateau State Government has been drawn to a letter being circulated on social media about a security committee constituted by the Executive Governor, Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang, which is generating concern among members of the public,” the Secretary to the State Government, Jatau said in a press statement reacting to the outcry.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this committee was constituted to provide a road map to be implemented by the government to ensure sustainable peace and security in the state.

“Part of the mandate of this committee is to come up with a comprehensive list of critical stakeholders across the three Senatorial Districts, cutting across the divides of faith, ethnicity and gender towards possibly convening an All Plateau Confab as a strategy for building trust in the state,” he said.

He assured people of the state that Governor Mutfwang will run an all-inclusive government, warning mischief makers against divisive commentaries.