More restiveness Looms in Jos, as Igbo Youths plan protest over kinsman death

Listen to article can confirm that despite the relative peace enjoyed in Jos, Plateau State after the last sectarian violence that pervades the land, there had been a stampede in Jos on Monday over a minor squabble between the Hausa and the natives at Farin-Kada area of Jos North Local Government Area of the state, following the refusal by the natives to prevent them from burying one of their kinsmen at the cemetery in the area.

In the course of the squabble, it was gathered, a man identified as a welder was attacked and burnt before the intervention of the security men deployed in the area. He was later identified to be an Igbo man, who owned a workshop within the vicinity of the incident. A complaint was said to have been lodged at Katako police station after the incident. Piqued by the development, Igbo youths, in Jos, in the early hours of Thursday, mobilised to protest the killing and what they saw as the nonchalant attitude of the police on the matter but were prevailed upon by the elders to suspend the demonstration and give the police more time.

However, before they yielded to the plea, there had been pandemonium as people hurriedly closed their business premises fearing that the suspended protest might snowball into another crisis. National President of Igbo Democratic Forum, Chief Chidi Ndu, said that the killing of the deceased, who he identified as Okechukwu, was a surprise to the Igbo community in Jos, adding that the minor squabble had nothing to do with the Igbo, because it was strictly between the Hausa and the natives. Chief Ndu also said the man was accosted in his workshop and killed in a barbaric manner, adding that immediately after the incident; a complaint was lodged at Katako police station without any positive response. He added that the man who killed the welder was identified and also reported to the police immediately, adding that to the surprise of the people, the man was neither invited for questioning nor detained. Ndu said the Igbo elders in the state were able to prevail on their youths to shelve the protest slated for

Thursday as peace-loving people and to give the police more time to carry out their investigation.

Reacting to the ugly development Plateau State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Lerama, said the command was not aware of any complaint to that effect to the police but promised to cross check with the division concerned. However, sectarian violence in Plateau State has become a one case too many in the state. Although investigations have once again revealed that the Justice Bola Ajibola Commission of Enquiry which was set up specifically to look into the November 28, 2008 civil unrest in some parts of Jos-North Local Government Area of Plateau State has faulted the creation of the local government area by former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

It was also made public that the commission has also observed that local government election of November 27, 2008 in Plateau State was not the cause of the crisis, but only gave impetus to the Hausa/Fulani community to perpetrate mayhem since they felt that they were about to lose their primary source of economic and political dominance.

In an Executive Summary made available on Thursday in Jos, the panel said that the local council, which was created through the States (Creation and Transition Provision Decree No 2 of 1991), was not done in consultation with the host community. The panel recommended the splitting of the area into three sustainable local government administrative areas. The commission observed that when the indigenous people rejected the creation of the local government, the then Gen Ibrahim Babangida administration did not do anything about it until the regime left office. The commission said that the 2008 election was just an excuse by the Hausa/Fulani population to cause trouble.

It said, “Even though there is no doubt in the minds of the commission that the unrest of November 28, 2008 erupted from acts of violence initiated by Hausa/Fulani Muslims, a point corroborated by the police, nevertheless the commission felt that it ought to hear from both sides.”

It continued, “The commission restates here that despite the coincidence of time, the local government election was not the immediate cause of the unrest, but they had the subsequent effect, in that the feeling that the Hausa/Fulani lost the election and had by that token lost access to one of the major opportunities for economic dominance and advancement among their people pushed them to violence.”The commission recommended that the creation of new local governments should be done in consultation with the people as laid down by the constitution.

It added,

“The work of the commission of enquiry was to some extent limited by the deliberate non-participation of the Hausa/Fulani community, members of key organisations such as the Ullama and the Ja'amatu Nasril Islam".

“This was premised on allegations of bias levelled against the Plateau State Government and the commission. These allegations have been vehemently denied on numerous occasions by both parties on various occasions.”It asked the state government to immediately implement the report of all commissions of enquiry on the Jos crisis and punish all indicted persons, in order to put an end to the bloody clashes in the area.

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Church f West Africa (ECWA), Tudun Wada branch has protested the death of one of its members, Mr. Dainel Garba, in Kuje prison, after he was arrested during last month's sectarian crisis in Jos. Garba was one of the 326 persons arrested by the police in Jos and taken to Abuja, an action which has pitted the state government against the police.

Reacting to the bizarre development Rev. Teneye Peter said the family would not accept any excuse on Garba's death. He said the deceased could have died as a result of the refusal of prison authorities to allow his access to health care. He equally said Garba, whom he said was a 30-year old farmer from Bassa Local Government Area, was arrested alongside others on his way back from the block industry where he was working and taken straight to Abuja, in company with others for an offence he did not commit.

He said, “The family is demanding a thorough investigation into the matter and an autopsy to be conducted to ascertain the cause of death. We are disappointed in the police who, in their usual show of unprofessionalism, arrested innocent persons to show for their incompetence in doing their job. They just swooped on some persons during the crisis and took them away to Abuja. It was while at Kuje Prison that we heard of the death of our son and member, who was denied access to medical care despite all pleas to allow his doctors attend to him. He kept complaining but the prison authorities in their crass inhumanity would not listen to him. The police beat him and others to a pulp and that may have been responsible for his death, coupled with the lack of medical attention. We condemn police brutality in strongest terms and call on the Federal Government to intervene in the matter to save the lives of others who are still in detention.”