FACT-CHECK: Army Chief Lagbaja Said Plateau Conflicts Started in 1994 Over the Appointment of Alhaji Mato As Jos North LGA Chairman. Is This True?

Yesterday, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Taoreed Lagbaja, claimed that conflicts in Plateau State started in April 1994 – about 29 years ago over the appointment of one Alhaji Mato as Sole Administrator of Jos North Local Government Area of the state. 

Lagbaja stated this when featured on Channels Television’s special programme, Year of Transition.  

“The Plateau thing did not just happen around the Christmas period. If I may look back, I will say the Plateau situation has been on for quite a while. I remember very well as a young officer in April 1994, standing on Farin-Gada Bridge, the crisis in Plateau erupted for the first time because of disagreement over the election of somebody as a local government chairman in Jos North Local Government.  Since then, the crisis has remained on the Plateau,” the Chief of Army Staff said. 

It is worth noting that on this year’s Christmas Eve, scores of people were killed, others wounded, property destroyed and many displaced from their homes by armed men in Mangu, Bokkos and Barikin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State. 

However, before the latest spate of killings on the Plateau, communal conflicts raged on commonly described as a farmers-herders crisis predominantly in four main frontline areas – Jos North, Jos South, Barikin-Ladi and Riyom local government areas –  allegedly exacerbated by the scourge of climate change. 

The Claim 

The crisis in Plateau State started in 1994 over the appointment of Alhaji Mato Chairman of Jos North Local Government Area of the state. 

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Findings 

The claim by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Taoreed Lagbaja, that the Plateau conflict started in 1994 is true. 

On 12th April 1994, the military governor of Plateau State, Mohammed Mana appointed Mato Sole Administrator of Jos North- the capital of the state. 

However, riots by native indigenous people of Plateau greeted the appointment. About two days later, the military governor of the state, Mana reversed the decision. 

During the riots, about five persons reportedly lost their lives and parts of the famous Jos Main Market were destroyed.  

Verdict 

The claim that the Plateau crisis started in 1994 over the appointment of Jos North local government chairman is correct. Findings show that the decision of the military governor of Plateau, Mana, to appoint Alhaji Mato as chairman of  Jos North triggered riots in Jos with casualties.    

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