The Plateau Youth G17 Peace and Progressive Forum has questioned the recent transfer of Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe as the State's Special Task Force Commander.

While maintaining its noninterference with routine military deployments, the group expressed worry over the move at a time citizens were beginning to see 'visible signs' of  efforts at bringing perpetrators of the 'gruesome' murder of helpless farmers and the sacking of villages to book.

"We recall with apprehension,  similar redeployments in the past and the changing fortunes they have had on the efforts at curbing the incessant attacks on farming communities in the state.

"This constant change of guards at the OPSH over the years, is seen by citizens as partly responsible for government’s inability to put a permanent stop to the carnage and continues to fuel suspicion of complacency and collusion with some elements within the ranks of the security forces stationed in the state for almost a decade now," Mr. Song Muru, a Senior Official of the group said in a statement.

He added, "These postings have over the years awaken citizens to the painful reality of the correlation between an OPSH Commander’s religious or ethnic affiliations to the relative successes or failures in securing lives and property as well as effect arrest of perpetrators.

"This further strengthens the allegations of collusion in the minds of citizens as stories making the rounds points to the  complacency of one Brigadier General Bello Chieg who, it is said, is an asset to the perpetrators."

Mr. Muru feared that Plateau citizens who have developed confidence in the Nigerian army since Major General Atolagbe adopted new operational strategies resulting in the arrest of dozens of suspects of the attacks might see the transfer as witch hunt.

He said, "The relocation of his operational base as commander to the theater of conflict has in no small measure helped and is seen as proactive and a sure way in ensuring the timely and efficient deployment of troops to troubled areas thereby denying the attackers the advantage of carrying out their deadly attacks within the comforts of abundant time and space before troops are mobilized.

"His professional and unbiased handling of “orders from above” which would have compromised the effective discharge of his responsibilities is also being seen as a reason why he should be allowed to continue rather than the suspicious redeployment to defence headquarters.

"Citizens are apprehensive and agitated as his redeployment is seen as resulting from the arrest of some of the perpetrators of this senseless blood letting and genocide whose confessions are yielding credible and useful information that we believe will gave a leeway for the further arrest and unveiling of the masterminds and their billionaire sponsors.

"It is therefore disheartening and suspicious, the hurried redeployment of the Commander who we believe is starting to unravel the mystery behind the seeming invincibility of the marauding herdsmen.

"This has left us and indeed, all genuine humanists with more questions than answers on the readiness of government and its security agencies, particularly the armed forces, who have for more than a decade now, been saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of citizens."

The group therefore demanded the immediate reversal of the redeployment of Major Gen. Atolagbe as the commander of OPSH "in the interest of the restoration of peace in  Plateau State and the securing of justice for victims of the murderous attacks by herdsmen."

Failure to do so, the group said it shall henceforth hold the military authorities responsible for any attack.

It also demanded that a civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) should be introduced in Plateau "since it has recorded successes in many part of the North East as a collaborative and desperate measure in restoring peace and safeguarding the lives of citizens."

The group also advocated for the provision of logistics and training support to the Plateau State Operation Rainbow Police Force and "the posting of indigenous Plateau military officers and men  to various positions within the hierarchy of OPSH as a sure way to guarantee success in view of their background and knowledge of the theater of conflict which should be seen as assets in the fight against herdsmen attackers as well as locals involved."