By NBF News

The carnage in Jos
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The recent killing of about 500 people of mostly Berom extraction in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State by suspected Hausa-Fulani men is yet another testimony to the failure of the nation's security apparatus to secure the lives of the people. The victims, mostly women and children, were hacked to death in the dead of night at Dogo Nahawa, Ransat and Jeji villages, last Sunday, as they fled their homes that were set on fire by the attackers.

The Governor of Plateau State, David Jonah Jang, has placed responsibility for the massive loss of lives on the Army, which had taken over security arrangements for the state following the earlier sectarian violence, which claimed over a hundred lives in the state in January, this year. He alleged that the Army failed to deploy troops to protect the people, as promised after he alerted the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Third Armoured Division, Jos, Major-General Saleh Maina, to reports of strange movements in the affected communities, about four hours before the attack. The National Security Adviser (NSA), Abdul Sarki Mukhtar (rtd), has since been sacked. He was immediately replaced by his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. Maina has said he only received text messages on the impending attack few hours to the carnage.

The police, who put the death toll in the mayhem at 109, said 49 people had been arrested in connection with the incident. They are to be charged with conspiracy and murder. The unconscionable killing of defenseless Nigerians in Plateau State is an embarrassment to the nation and we hold the Federal Government responsible for the monstrous scale of the latest sectarian violence.

The gruesome killing of so many people, without as much as a feeble response from the Nigerian Army and other security agencies that had been drafted to the area to provide security, is a disgrace to the country.

Many factors contribute to the incessant violence on the Plateau. Up till this moment, and with thousands killed over the past decade, there has been no conclusive investigation into the many incidents.

Nobody has actually received due punishment for the recurrent murders, and arson, over the years. Instead, the responsibility for security in the troubled area has become a matter for ego- tripping between the Federal and Plateau State governments. Persons arrested over the earlier killings, this year were taken to Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), Abuja, for trial, even when there is a Federal High Court in Jos that could have handled the case.

There is strong evidence of collusion in high places, and the influence of sacred cows in the failure to bring culprits in past incidents of violence in the state to justice. When the time-honored principle of visiting crime with commensurate punishment is ignored, there is so much effrontery to repeat acts of violence. This is exactly what is happening in Plateau. Even the state government has not been without fault on the issue.

The ethnic underpinnings of the frequent clashes indicate that Nigeria is not a nation yet. We need a clear statement in the constitution on the citizenship and indigeneship questions, which are largely behind the recurring violence in Jos. The indigene-settler politics in the country has deleterious effects on the unity and growth of the land. It should be addressed.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the security agencies let the nation down in Jos. Nigerians expect a better performance from them especially as they were very familiar with the problem in the area. They should not have been caught napping as they were. In that regard, all the officers that failed to respond appropriately to information on the attacks, which contributed to the loss of so many lives, should face disciplinary action. It is sacrilegious that they refused to hearken to the cries of Nigerians in such a pathetic situation.

Above all, hope for peace in Jos rests on the people. We advise all residents of the state to pursue peace. It is sad that a city that used be a leading tourist haven in the country is now a theatre of sectarian violence.

The government will also do well to address the political-economic underpinnings of the recurring conflict. The clashes are as much a battle for economic survival of the groups as it is about ethnic and religious bigotry. Any permanent solution to the conflicts must take this into consideration. We commiserate with those who lost their loved ones and properties in the mayhem. May God grant them the fortitude to bear the loss, and the dead, sweet repose..