Women numbering over 500, Thursday, protested in Dura Du community of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State when the military expanded its search for Major General Mohammed I. Alkali (Rtd), who was declared missing since Monday, September 3.
Major General Alkali retired from service as the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Army Headquarters, and few weeks later was declared missing.
He was said to be travelling from Abuja to Bauchi, and somewhere around Jos, his family lost contact with him.
According to military investigation, the General could have been killed and dumped in a deep pond in Dura Du, thereby making them to search the pond for him.
However, the protesting women in the community, dressed in black and some half-naked, began a violent protest against the military, throwing stones at the military personnel while others dared them to shoot and even attempted to wrestle weapons from their hands.
The women said their anger was that the military has put a siege on their community since they suspected that the General was in the pond, and again that their people have been repeatedly killed without the military protecting them.
But their major reason for protesting the search was due to a superstitious belief that the pond must not be disturbed in any way because it will lead to calamity for them, including mysterious deaths and other misfortunes.
Mary Yakubu, who spoke on behalf of the women said since the days of their forefathers no one has tampered with the water, and that it was a taboo to tamper with the water because their husbands and children will die mysteriously.
She said they haven’t known peace since the military suspected that their General was thrown into the pond with his car, saying that they have been harassed, threatened and even shot at.
Reacting, the search and rescue officer in charge of the operation, Brigadier General, Ibrahim Mohammed, said they had it on credible intelligence that General Alkali got missing in that area, and that the army headquarters had mandated and directed them to carry out a search and rescue operations.
Mohammed said no amount of protest by the women or any superstitious belief about the pond will stop them from the operation, saying that they had earlier contacted the community of the operation before its commencement.
“In an effort to search for the missing Major General, Idris Alkali, a lot of things were done, and all the hospitals in Jos were toured and checked. Besides, we have checked all the accident vehicles places. Based on credible intelligence, we now had to come to this community in the last one week. We are trying to find three things. One is General Alkali who has been declared missing. We are here also looking for his vehicle, a black Corolla and we want to find out if he is alive or not.
“Again, we have credible information that some vehicles were actually pushed into this pond. We came here for the last 3 days trying to see if we can salvage anything from the pond. The pond is a mining site and is deep. You can see that we have a crane, and we have used all kinds of methods and as the last resort, we have decided that we are going to evacuate the water from the pond to see what is underneath.
“I then came here and actually saw a group of women numbering over 500 all dressed in blacks and they insisted that we are not going to evacuate the water and we asked them why and they said this is the water they use to drink. And there are water points more than 30 of this type that are much more cleaner than this one in this environment. But surprisingly, the women began throwing stones at my troops.
“There was even an instance where one of the ladies was confident enough to try to wrestle a weapon from a soldier. And what these women are saying is that we will not evacuate this water, but we told them it is an order. No Jupiter can stop us until we see to the end of this. We will not allow miscreants to take the law into their hands. That would not be allowed,” he said.
He said soldiers have been stationed there and would try to provide protection to the community and other communities in the state, adding that the protesting women were being instigated from some quarters.