The Police Command in Plateau says it can justify why it arrested and charged to court 13 youths who claim to be mountaineers (hikers) in a community of Jos North Local Government Area of the state.
DSP Alfred Alabo, the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, gave the explanation in a statement.
Alabo discarded the social media reports about the arrest, insisting that the reports did not represent what happened.
“It is true that 13 youths were arrested at down base of a worship centre staff community, following a sting operation by the police in a suspicious manner.
“The police detained them for questioning and investigation to determine who they are and to authenticate the veracity of their claim as innocent hikers.
“Those who have been following the recent security situation on the Plateau will recall that there were distress calls on the police over the many incidents of kidnapping and other insecurity in that axis.
“The command arrested 13 persons, 12 males and one female, in a cave referred to as Rock Number One used by secret cult groups for initiation and other nefarious activities,” he said.
Alabo further explained that preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects did not have permission from the community leaders as it was the practice before embarking on the said hiking.
“The suspects claimed that they were out for hiking, but preliminary police investigations and information from vigilante members and other community leaders indicated that before any hiking activity, the traditional rulers of the area ought to know.
“The suspects neither sought nor got the nod of the traditional rulers or the local security of the community thus raising suspicions about their activities at the cave, especially that when there were reports that kidnappers have been plundering the community.
‘“The suspects were taken to custody and immediately handed over to the Anti-Cult Unit of the command for further investigation.
‘“Search warrant was executed in their various houses and premises and some dry leaves suspected to be cannabis sativa and a military camouflage face-cap was recovered, hence, the suspects were charged to court for prosecution on Aug. 15,” he said.
The PPRO said that the exhibits recovered from the execution of the search warrant would be tendered in court as evidence.
Alabo called on the public to disregard the news that had been making the rounds on some social media platforms and some sections of the media that the police arrested innocent hikers.
He explained that the police and the court could not both be wrong at the same time.
He urged residents of the state to report any suspicious activity or movements in their vicinities to the security agencies for a prompt response.