Friday Olokor, Jos
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on Saturday escaped death by a whisker as Internally Displaced Persons numbering over 200 hauled dangerous objects, including stones, irons and other unidentified objects at his convoy.
The incident happened in the afternoon at the IDPs camp in Jos, Zawan in the South Local Government Area.
During the attack which happened barely three weeks after a similar incident at the Government House, over five vehicles were said to have been destroyed.
The enraged IDPs were part of the over 11,000 victims who were displaced after the killing of over 200 persons by suspected Fulani herdsmen in about three LGAs.
The Punch learnt that the IDPs camp where the incident happened was not the original destination of Lalong.
“Governor Lalong was on his way to Abuja to meet President Muhammadu Buhari. But he decided to stop and observe the situation in the camp. The enraged youths, overpowered his security, protocol department, chased them away and destroyed many vehicles,” a source stated.
An eyewitness, Francis Pwajok, said the IDPs initially protested in hushed tones while the governor was addressing them before pelting his convoy with stones.
According to him, the IDPs were not happy that Lalong had not visited them three weeks after they were attacked and displaced from their homes, but made a stopover on his way to Abuja.
He said, “My house is in the neighbourhood of the camp. So, when I learnt the governor was stopping over at the camp, I went there to wait for him. On arrival, the IDPs began to murmur in hushed tones, while the governor was addressing them.
“Frankly, they initially did not throw stones at him. Some of them said they didn’t want relief materials, but wanted to go back to their homes because the Fulani are now occupying their homes, grazing their cattle on their farms. They asked the government to chase them (herders) away so that they could go back to their homes as they were no longer comfortable in the camp.”
Pwajok said it was when Lalong’s convoy drove out of the camp that the IDPs began to throw stones at them and damaged some cars.
According to him, the IDPs were particularly unhappy that Lalong had not visited them three weeks after they were attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen, but only had to make a stop-over on his way to see Buhari in Abuja, describing it as “insensitive, inhuman and dishonourable.”
But the Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Yakubu Dati, told journalists that the hoodlums were acting out the script of their sponsors.
He said, “The hoodlums, acting out the script of their sponsors, laid ambush on the highway and attacked the governor’s convoy with stones, rods and other unidentified objects, damaging vehicles in the convoy including those belonging to the press corps, security and relief agencies.
“The government views these attacks as an affront on the authority of the state and will, therefore, take appropriate measures to checkmate merchants of division and death.
Also, the state Commissioner for Science and Technology, Dan Manjang, in a statement, described the attack on Lalong as “not only wicked, sinister and callous but an attempt to further cause division among citizens of the state.”