The Defence Headquarters on Monday said that the planned military operation in four villages surrounded by mountains in the Riyom and Barking Local Government Areas of Plateau State would not last more than two weeks.
The villages, located in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government areas of Plateau, are Mahanga, Kakuruk, Kuzen, Maseh and Shong 2.
Chief of Policy and Plans at the Defence Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenabere, said this at a joint press conference addressed with the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, in Abuja on Monday.
Iruenabere described the security threat confronting the nation as unusual and should be nipped in the bud in order to prevent it from escalating into a graver problem.
He traced the resurgence of violence in Plateau to the activities of terrorists who, according to him, are still hiding in some of the villages, explaining that the idea of moving the villagers to camps outside the mountains occupied by the terrorist was to avoid unnecessary casualty in the interest of the people.
According to him, an air investigation carried out by the military revealed that some of the terrorists believed to have carried out the recent killings in Plateau State were still hiding in the mountains.
He said that successful efforts of the government and the security operatives to convince the combatants against acts of violence were responsible for the fact that riots did not follow the recent killings in Jos.
He said, “There is a resurgence of acts of terrorism; what happened in Plateau had not happened before. Some of the terrorists who carried out the killings wore military camouflage and others. An air reconnaissance carried out by the military showed that the attackers are still there.
“The operation is not likely to take more than two weeks, it is not to dislocate or punish anybody. The whole idea is save innocent lives.
“The kind of threats we are facing is unusual, and if we don’t deal with it decisively, it will lead to a major problem.
“Remember that Plateau had been pacified until recently. Efforts had been made to convince the combatants that they are just being used as cannon fodder, and they were appreciated; if not, there would have been riots in Jos after the killings.
“The operation is to aid civil authorities and the public must support it.”
Odinkalu said that he was at the DHQ to discuss the Jos crisis with the CDS.
He described the situation in Jos as a difficult one which had led to the killing of innocent Nigerians, foreigners and military personnel who left behind children, wives and relatives.
He said that it was the preoccupation of the NHRC to ensure that the rights of Nigerians were protected.
Odinkalu, who said that standard precautionary measures and safeguards should be put in place to protect human rights, advised the people “not to take a difficult situation to pollute inter-communal relations in Jos.
He said that he was pleasantly surprised by the engagement he had with the CDS,
He urged residents of Kura-falls, Kuzukand Sharuk, Rim of Gashish and Bachit districts not to panic but to exhibit an appreciable level of security consciousness during the operation.