Bali Berates Jos GOS

2010-03-14
THIS DAY Newspaper-Olawale Olaleye and Seriki Adinoyi

Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff in the General Ibrahim Babangida regime, General Domkat Bali, at the weekend berated the General Officer Command-ing (GOC), 3rd Armoured Division, Major-General Saleh Maina and other top military commanders and accused them of compromising the security of Plateau State by showing bias in their handling of the Jos crisis.

Specifically, Bali pointed accusing fingers at Maina, who he said has taken sides in the crisis. He said his fear was that should the military be polarised along religious lines, it would be the end of Nigeria.

Bali, a four-star general, gave this hint even as there were reports last night that security agents intercepted a truck suspected to be carrying arms in Riyom Local Government Area of the state. The vehicle with registration number, Bauchi XA 724 MSA, was however said to be conveying jerry cans of palm oil and many bags of cement to Kano for sale.

He described the military commanders as being part of the problem in Jos and accused Maina of habitually not taking calls, irrespective of who is calling.

“The GOC, Maina or – whatever his name is – I did call him many times, but he won’t pick my phone. So, one day I met him while he was going to the Governor’s office, and I stopped him and asked why he has refused to pick my calls after calling many times? The idiot only told me he was overwhelmed by the happening. You see, I am a General. I called to show interest in what was happening, because I am here in Jos,” Bali fumed.

“After that time, I tried calling him again but he still refused to pick my calls. The reason I called was that there were fake soldiers from Niger, Chad and so on. They were flashed on the television screen and I saw some of them wearing canvas, slippers and so on. The people I saw were not boys that could not be stopped and their weapons collected from them. But with what I saw on the screen, they (the fake soldiers) and the Army were virtually operating together, and the army did not arrest or stop them [as far as I know anyway].

“So, I believe, and a lot of people believe so too, that the GOC is playing games with us, and that they are part of the problems.”
Bali said as a soldier, he is not as patient as the state Governor, Jonah Jang because “if I were Jang, I would have made more inflammatory statements. I am talking about something very serious. This is not just about Plateau, but the whole of Nigeria. You see, the Chief of Army Staff is an Hausa man; the GOC is an Hausa man; they dictate who should come here and who is to serve in what position.

“My feeling is that they should remove Maina, because he has shown bias for Islam and it is a dangerous thing not just for Plateau, but for the whole country. The moment this country is broken along religion line, there may be no Nigeria any more. Especially as it regards the military, because the ultimate force bringing Nigeria together is the military,” he said.

Bali was optimistic that the Jos situation is not hopeless said Jos has always been peaceful. “When I schooled in Kuru here, it was the most peaceful time that Plateau was. We then were celebrating Salah as though we were Muslims children, and they were celebrating Christmas with us as though they were Christians. The conflict began when the interest to dominate grew. And of course it met with resistance; that was when the problem started. The issue is why must it be the Hausas that want to dominate Jos? Why not the Yorubas or the Ibos? That’s the problem.

“I must tell you here that Jos-North was never captured by the Fulanis or the Bauchi people. They were just lumped with them. That was the problem of the indirect rule system, in which some groups were just lumped with the Hausas by the British for convenience of administration. It was for administrative convenience that Jos was lumped with the then Bauchi province.”

On the intercepted truck, the military men stationed in Riyom were said to have received a call alerting them of “a truck carrying a large number of passengers” before it arrived the checkpoint. The truck carrying 44 men and three women, allegedly on a journey to Kano, was brought to the state police headquarter where the entire luggage was off loaded to determine if it was really carrying any weapon.

Though a few kitchen knives, two saws, two hammers, two axes were found in the vehicle, it was not yet substantiated if they were really weapons to carry out an attack or mere tools to carry out their jobs.

One of the women, Mrs. Ijeoma Stanley, who spoke on behalf of the other women disclosed to THISDAY that they are traders and that they were on their way to Kano from Port Harcourt to sell and in turn, buy cloths back to Port Harcourt. She said the other 44 men joined the truck from Okigwe.

Driver of the truck, Mallam Lamido, who confirmed that the men actually joined his truck from Okigwe, said he did not have any cause to suspect them since they were not with any form of weapon. The suspects are being currently interrogated by the police to determine why they had to travel through Jos in such a large group at this time that the state is mindful of its security.

 

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