By VICTOR GAI
The menace of cultism, gangsterism and Sara-Suka, have been identified as an “existential threat”, overshadowing armed robbery in Jos and environs.
This was disclosed during a Justice and Security State Level Dialogue for Security Actors with the theme: Collaborative approaches to ending security threats (gangsterism, cultism and Sara-Suka) to communal peace, put together by United States Institute of Peace, (UNIP), Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA) and WANEP, held at the PPBA office in Jos on Tuesday.
Speaking during the meeting, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, represented by DCP Tafida Aliyu, disclosed that kidnapping was an emerging crime in Jos and had more cases than armed robbery because it is discreet, less risky and demands an insider compared to armed robbery.
Also corroborating, the Director, Programs of PPBA, Godwin Okoko, while delivering a lecture on the theme: Security challenges in communities (Analysis/Way forward), mentioned cultism as most pronounced in Jos metropolis, especially in Laranto and Nasarawa Gwong areas. He blamed that on parents and lack of synergy between security agencies and the community.
Meanwhile, the key security threats across Jos/Bukuru metropolis as identified by him include: cultism, gangsterism and Sara-Suka. Others are: armed banditry/theft, rape, drug abuse and kidnapping. These according to Okoko is due to insufficient security personnel and facilities, lack of synergy between formal and informal security agencies, eroding societal values and youth unemployment.
According to an operative of the neighbourhood watch at Nasarawa Gwong, the challenge they faced was with the Sara Suka gangsters who engaged in violence but that when they were arrested, they often escaped Justice and return to their crimes. That according to him encourages others to engage in such violence.
While delivering the opening remarks, the Director-General, Plateau Peace Building Agency(PPBA), Joseph Lengmang, stated that the agency was a non partisan and non religious agency which was created to coordinate the activities of State and non State actors.
According to him, cultism and gangsterism are an “existential threat” and that the “onus” lies with the people to solve the problem. He canvassed for a multi-stakeholder partnership for peace in Plateau using community leaders working with security agencies to nip the threat in the bud.
He added that Sara Suka and cultism are a reflection of our collective failure as a community, a nation, a family and so on.
Lengmang revealed that Gov. Lalong had given the approval for the creation of “local peace structures” which would include, security agencies, vigilantes and so on, across the 17 LGAs.