Over 500 women dressed in black yesterday protested in Dura Du community of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State as the military intensified search for Major-General Mohammed I. Alkali (Rtd), who has gone missing since September 3.
The general, who retired from service as the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Army Headquarters, went missing few weeks after retirement and was travelling from Abuja in a Toyota Corola car with registration number MUN 670 AA when the incident occurred.
Sources said the incident happened around Jos axis, and further investigation by the military revealed that he could have been killed and dumped in a deep pond in Dura Du.
But the over 500 women in the community, dressed in black and some half naked, commenced a violent protest against the military, leading to series of clashes as the women threw stones at the military personnel while others dared them to shoot and even attempted to wrestle weapons from their hands.
Part of the women’s anger was that the military had 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.
However, their major reason for protesting the search was an ancestral belief that the pond must not be disturbed in any way because it would lead to a calamity for them, including mysterious deaths and other misfortunes.
Reacting, the search and rescue officer in charge of the operation, Brigadier-General, Ibrahim Mohammed, said they had it on credible intelligence that 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 would stop them from the operation, saying that they had earlier contacted the community of the operation before commencing.
“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 is declared missing. We are here also looking for his vehicle which is a black Corolla vehicle 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 evacuates the water from the pond to see what is underneath.
“Early this morning, 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” he said.
He said soldiers had 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.