JOS MASSACRE, LITANY OF DESTRUCTION
Litany of destruction
By HENRY UMAHI
Saturday, March 13, 2010
•Rubbles of destoryed house
Blood flowed freely last Sunday in the Dogon Nahawa villages in Jos South and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State. This was the latest version of the tradition of bloodshed the zone has adopted. At this latest orgy, over 500 persons were brutally murdered and many wounded by persons suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. The invaders came like thieves in the wee hours on the fateful day and massacred the victims, mainly women and children while asleep.
The present crisis in Jos is about the sixth time in 13 years there has been open bloodletting in the city and its environs, and not less than 1500 lives have been terminated and sorrow spread among the families of these victims as enmity deepens further.
This is coming in less than two months after the January 18, 2010 bloody crises in Nasarawa Gwon in Jos North LGA where several people met their untimely death.
Fourteen months earlier, between November 28 and 30, 2008, to be precise, bloody crises had engulfed Jos North. Among those killed were about five Southern youth corps members and students. The death toll was put at over 300 persons. Property worth millions of naira destroyed. The disturbances came in the wake of the state local government election allegedly rigged. Although it was a communal/ethnic clash, it was presented as politically motivated.
Indeed, Jos, which used to pride itself as the melting pot of Nigeria because of the unique composition, has lost its legendry serenity and communal harmony. Over the years, the Tin city has assumed the inelegant reputation of a theatre of war. It has become a city always on the boil, a city where blood flows freely, a city where life has lost its sanctity. The ugly face of Jos became uglier since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
Ironically, the mayhem follows a similar pattern. Although the crises almost always appear to be political or religious in nature, evidence points to the long seething suspicion and animosity between the Berom and Hausa/Fulani occasioned by the indigene/settler dichotomy.
According to a report, peace snapped in the hitherto innocent environment when 'the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group and its subservient sub-group of very small ethno-religious assemblage, under the so-called Jasawa, most of whom members ran away from the theocratic Northern feudal oppression started to entertain similar territorial and imperial ambitions in their new abode, abusing the hospitality of the natives in the process. Since then communal peace has been largely maintained through sheer tolerance by the natives and other ethnic groups equally irked at the temerity of the Hausa/Fulani, so-called Jasawa'.
On April 12, 1994, an attempt by the State Military Governor, Col. Mohammed Mana to constitute a caretaker administration in a LGA to be headed by Alhaji Aminu Mato, an Hausa Fulani settler, resulted in a bloody confrontation. Another orgy of violence rocked the Gero community on April 10, 1997 leading to the death of scores of people.
In September 2001 Jos was in the news for the wrong reason again as it witnessed a bloodbath. The book, Democracy of our Land: The story of Nigeria's Fourth Republic, succinctly captures the heart rending development thus: 'At about the time the disciples of Osama bin Laden were hijacking planes and carrying out Kamikaze attacks on American landmarks on September 11, 2001, the hitherto peaceful city of Jos was burning. While the Jos religious skirmishes lasted, hundreds of people were slaughtered or butchered and some burnt like sacrifices meant for the devil. Some of the corpses that littered the streets were bullet riddled. Figures churned out on casualties recorded during the war were conflicting. However, sources stated that more than 600 lives were terminated while over 1000 people were injured. Property, whose figure could not be ascertained, were looted or vandalized or torched by the rampaging Muslim youths. Even offices of newspapers were destroyed, perhaps to ensure that the mayhem was not adequately reported'.
Perhaps the mother of all disturbances took place in Yelwa/Shendam in Southern Plateau in May 2004. According to reports, over 1000 people were killed, resulting in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency in the state by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who removed the state governor Joshua Dariye and replaced him with Gen Chris Alli as sole administrator.
Sadly, the state is walking the same path again.