Nineteen persons were yesterday arraigned over the killing of Gen. Idris Mohammed Alkali.
They were charged with criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide before a Plateau State High Court sitting in Jos.
The suspects made up of 17 teenagers, a village head and a woman.
The suspects were accused of conspiring to attack and kill the late Gen. Alkali on September 3 while traveling from Abuja enroute Jos to Bauchi.
Prosecution counsel Emmanuel Achoba moved the application.
Thereafter the charges were read out to the accused and they all pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution counsel then asked for an adjournment to enable them bring witnesses to prove the case. He further requested that the accused be remanded in prison custody.
The court granted the prayers and adjourned the matter to December 10 for hearing.
Justice Daniel Longji after adjourning the case ordered the suspects to be remanded in prison custody.
Counsel to the accused Gyang Zi who did not raise any objection to the court order said: “The accused persons had made their first appearance in court and they have pleaded not guilty.
“But now that the suspects have been arraigned and have been remanded, I can now have access to them and prepare for the case proper and for their bail at the next hearing. We can’t proceed further than this because I didn’t have access to them before now”
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong yesterday visited Gen. Alkali’s widow and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Tukur Buratai to commiserate with them.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen said Governor Lalong presented a condolence letter to the widow, Hajiya Salamatu Idris Alkali.
The letter reads: “I received with deep shock and great sadness, the news of the unfortunate death of your beloved husband, the late Major-General Idris Alkali.
“It is very unfortunate, painful and highly regrettable that his life was cut short by the enemies of peace, progress and societal co-existence in a village in Plateau State.
“It is equally very painful that he died at a time that his entire family needed him most for his fatherly wisdom, experience and guidance, especially having just retired from the army after many years of meritorious services to the nation.
“As the father of our dear state, on behalf of my family, the government and people of Plateau State, I personally join the entire members of the immediate and extended Alkali bereaved family to mourn in this seemingly unbearable moment of grief.
“While we altogether mourn him, be rest assured that the state government will, in collaboration with the security agencies, leave no stone unturned to ensure that all the perpetrators of the dastardly act and horrendous crime are apprehended, prosecuted and made to pay the supreme price for their savage actions.
“I admonish the entire family, being believers, to take solace in the fact that death is the way of all mortals, not minding the way it comes to us, be it of natural or human cause, as in the instant case.
“Once again, on behalf of the government and good people of Plateau State, please accept my heartfelt condolences. I pray to God Almighty to receive his soul and grant him eternal rest”
Lalong appealed to the Army not to avenge the death of the General during his visit to the Army chief.
He said the state would be exposed to danger should the military authorities abandon on-going operations to maintain the peace and orderliness.
Gen. Buratai said the killing of Gen. Alkali remained a wake up call for all security agencies.
Buratai said “It is gap that has been created unfortunately because one of the discoveries that we made during our investigation is that one of the incidents of one vehicle we recovered occurred as far back as 2013 and the investigation was never conclusive and no action was taken and the case was closed.
“That is to show that almost all the security agencies in the state know what was happening in that community and nobody bothered to take decisive action and this is one of the bane of the security agencies across the country.
“If we are not decisive and take actions in such things, the consequences are always grave and we’ll always be the victims instead of trying to protect ourselves and protect the society”.
In a document Governor Lalong presented to the Army chief, he condemned the killing of the retired senior Army officer and pledged that the state government would continue to accord army authorities all necessary cooperation to fish out the remaining suspects behind the act.
Lalong expressed regret over the murder saying it came at a time the military especially the army was doing everything possible to restore lasting peace in the state.
He said:” I sit here on behalf of the people of Plateau State on this very unusual visit because it happens that it is coming at an unusual occasion.
“I call it unusual because it is not just a very sad moment not for the people of Plateau State but also for the people of Nigeria.
“I want to on behalf of the government Plateau State extend our gratitude first for unveiling and bringing out the culprits. But it is unfortunate that it is coming in Plateau State at the time that you are also helping us to restore peace in Plateau.
“These are parts of the things that I know the president inherited.We also came and inherited some of these things.
“But you have done your best in the armed forces to restore peace in Plateau State and with the cooperation we are giving when we had the unfortunate incident,I’m sure it is one of the series of some of the problems that are still buried on ground in plateau state.
“On behalf of the Government of Plateau State, we are here to condole you and the entire armed forces for the unfortunate incident but also to appeal that please do not get discouraged by what happened.
“We appeal that we join hands together and we will always cooperate with you so that we can unveil more of these acts in plateau state and in Nigeria”.
Gen. Buratai called for re-assessment of Nigeria’s security architecture for possible re-organisation.
Gen. Buratai said security was fundamental and was one of the purposes of governance in every society.
He deplored the killing of Gen. Alkali, especially the circumstances that surrounded the incident, saying
“We have stayed there (Plateau) for too long and situations are getting worse and worse.
“I think there must be a complete re-evaluation of the security architecture within that environment; it is not something that we would just sit down and allow it to go like that.
“And indeed, all other areas across the country where we have such challenges, we must review the architecture and the security plans, and we must be decisive at all times,’’ the army chief said.
He warned that any commander that failed to carry out his responsibility would be sanctioned.
According to him, I have taken steps to ensure that for any reported case, if the commanders on the ground, charged with that responsibility to tackle it, fail to act, they will be sanctioned.
“If the commander does not take the decisive action to support the civil authority, then we have a way of sanctioning that commander,’’ Buratai said.
“Every criminality must be openly condemned and promptly because at times, our silence, silence by leaders, signifies consent to the action of the youth and these apply across the country,’’ he added.
He advised that issues of religion and ethnicity should be to the individual, saying “when you bring it out to the realm of society and start bringing sentiment to promote certain interest, it becomes a problem’’.
He thanked the delegation for the visit and recalled that the unfortunate death Maj.-Gen. Alkali occurred in Du community in Plateau.
The army chief also commended Lalung for working with the security agencies in the efforts made to uncover the suspects involved in the killing of the army officer.
Gen. Alkali, the immediate past Chief of Administration at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, was declared missing on September 3.
He was said to have gone missing on his way to Bauchi after leaving Abuja in the morning.
Consequently, Army authorities set up an operation to search for him.
After a thorough search and investigation, the operatives stumbled on some information that led them to a mining pond at Dura Du community, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau, where further clues about his whereabouts were obtained.
His body was later recovered from an abandoned well in Guchwet, Shen District of Jos South on Thursday. Gen. Alkali was buried on Saturday at the Gudu Cemetery in Abuja.