Women numbering over 500 on 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, who retired from service as the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Army Headquarters, was travelling from Abuja to Bauchi, and somewhere around Jos, his family lost contact with him.
The military claims he 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.
“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.