OPINION: What is Going On with DHQ STF in Jos? – Comrade Friday Bako

Is Nigerian Defence Headquarters STF in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria a Curse or Blessing?

Ideally, the military is expected to be one of the most important institutions in a democracy.

The duties of the Nigerian Military include; to maintain the territorial integrity of Nigeria, to defend country from external aggression, to protect the country’s borders, to restore order if needed and in cases of insurrection etc. They do all the aforementioned in compliance with constitutional provisions.

In a democratic setting such as Nigeria, the duties mentioned above notwithstanding, the Civil-Military Relations ought to be cordial and healthy. This isn’t what is obtainable as the rate of human rights violation has increase in a geometric pattern thereby leaving the citizens wondering if Nigeria is practicing democracy or in Military regime.

Men of the Special Task Force (STF) while in Plateau State to work for the restoration of peace, enhance internal security and ensure that lives and property of the citizens are secured are often time involved in one form of human rights violation, extra-judicial killings, molestation, harassment and maltreatment of the citizens.
These have adversely affected the civil-military relations in the State as citizens have accused the STF of complicity and colluding with attackers in some instances.

The level of human rights violation has continued unabated as perpetrators often go away with their heinous crimes or such crimes are swept under the carpet without justice being served to serve as deterrent.

Plateau State in recent times has witnessed human rights violation and extra-judicial killings which have created distrust and suspicion between the people and security personnel in the State.

Some cases of extra-judicial killings in Plateau State are outlined below:

  1. On Monday 22nd, 2018 some Soldiers who had gone to the bank to transact their personal businesses shot and killed a security guard at the Jos Branch of Diamond Bank. They also shot and injured two other security personnel of the Bank after a minor disagreement.
  2. In February, 2020, 20 year old Benjamin Arum Izang died after sustaining multiple fractures from the hours-long brutality by Special Forces of the Military Task Force at Tina Junction Jos North LGA over an issue involving him and a Egg Seller. The amount involved here was N50 but his life was prematurely cut short.
  3. On 12th May, 2020, 20 year old Rinji Peter Bala, a 300 Level Student of History & Int’l Studies in the University of Jos was shot and killed after being arrested in his community, Hwolshe Jos South LGA by Security Operatives at Sector one Zaria Road Jos
  4. On Friday 15th May, 2020, Abdullahi Shittu who was going home from work in the evening was shot by a security operative of the STF and sustained injury around Majema Junction Near Zololo Junction in Jos North LGA who was shooting to clear the heavy traffic gridlock encountered in the area.
Rinji Peter Bala, a 300 Level Student of the University of Jos was
Abdullahi Shittu shot on his waist

There are many cases of human rights violation and extra-judicial killings in the villages where the security agencies who are supposed to protect the people have become huge security threat to them.

Many innocent persons have been killed without provocation by trigger-happy security operatives or by corrupt officers who collude with attackers to perpetrate attacks on communities in the State. There are instances where evidences were found in attacked communities of security personnel’s belonging including name tags, ATM Cards, Bank Cheque Book etc.

The conducts of the STF in Plateau State remains unprofessional, in total deviation with their expected code of conduct and rules of engagement.

These and many more should be looked into and justice allowed to prevail if future reoccurrences are to be stemmed.

Even as the Operation Safe Haven is working to achieve durable peace in Plateau State, there is need for it to intensify efforts toward improving civil-military relationships so as to regain the trust and confidence of the people.

The mental state of security operatives must also be examined and their should be constant training and retraining on their code of conduct, rules of engagement, professionalism, human relations and civil-military relationships as it pertains to a democratic environment.

There is also need to deploy those trigger-happy security personnel to war zones instead of the cities where they potent great threat to higher population.

There is need to weed those with compromised integrity, depressed/frustrated officers and other tendencies that have continue to bring disrepute to the Military and cost it much in paying for court cases involving human rights violation.

Security operatives instead of making Nigeria more secured have made its rating in terms of human rights violations and insecurity high on account of their activities.

May God give the Defence Headquarters the needed wisdom to handle this situation.

Thank you & God bless

*Comrade Friday Bako writes from JOS, Plateau state of Nigeria.

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