DEATH NOW RESIDES IN JOS PLATEAU
Gradually but systematically, Nigeria, through Jos, is back to the Hobbessian State of nature where life is nasty, brutish and short. The once peaceful city of Jos and its surrounding villages are now the abode of death. Sectarian violence had been the lot of the entire State in the last two years.
In December 2008, there was a bloody confrontation, which has ethnic, religious and political dimensions. The 2008 crisis claimed over 400 lives including those of three youth corps members whose offence was that they were serving their fatherland in Plateau State.
The crisis then was attributed to a local government election that was manipulated in favour of a PDP candidate at the expense of the ANPP candidate believed to have won the election. The crisis later took an ethnic and religious dimension. In January 2010, Jos erupted in violence again when it was alleged that a Muslim who was trying to rebuild his house that was burnt during the 2008 crisis was prevented from doing so by a group of Christian youths who said they didn't want Muslims around the area again.
It was alleged that the Muslim man invited soldiers who shot and killed some of the stone throwing youths. Violence escalated from that point as a village was surrounded and about 300 inhabitants were massacred in an early morning raid. Many corpses were later discovered at septic tanks and the army was accused of taken sides with the attackers in the crisis. The latest crisis has been described by some arrested culprits who participated in the mayhem as a revenge mission over the January attack.
The recent attack has all the trappings of a holocaust. The sleepy village of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Rassat were raided in a military fashion by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen who were reported to be on a revenge mission against Berom women and children who were butchered like animals. Automatic weapons were freely used and as the villagers who were sleeping heard gunshots, they ran out only to the waiting ambush of their attackers who were armed with daggers, axes, cutlasses swords and guns with which they were mowed down. Husbands watched helplessly as their wives and children were being killed.
The horrible scenario could only be imagined. I wept as I saw the corpses of children and women displayed on television and on the internet. The suspected complicity of the army in the crisis is not only condemnable but also dangerous and a threat to national security. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) and Chairman of the Joint Task Force for peace in Plateau Major –General Saleh Maina's attempt to extricate himself from blame is laughable. We are yet to come to terms with the fact that a Major General in the Nigerian Army could not quell an internal aggression against Nigerians he was paid to protect.
His excuse that no government official called him but only private individuals by text messages about the impending attack is very shameful and unprofessional. The question is if we assume without conceding that Governor Jang did not call General Maina, why he didn't act on the text messages he received and prevent the massacre of innocent children and women who were murdered over a period of four hours without protection from the Nigerian State.
The primary function of the State is to guarantee security of lives and property of its citizens. Any state that cannot do this is a failed state. Major General Maina shamelessly offered feeble explanations that nobody called him, but what happened to the ever-sophisticated intelligence unit of the Nigerian army that is responsible for information gathering? Is it possible for such a clinically executed operation to be carried out in four hours without the knowledge, collaboration and protection of the army?
The army under Maina was quite aware of the volatile nature of Plateau State and this was why the task force under his command was established; so is he telling us that his men simply went to sleep while the carnage of such magnitude was going on? The allegation of complicity against Saleh's army is too grave to be overlooked or to be defended by the army authorities except it is a conspiracy from the top. No wonder, protesting and grief-stricken Plateau women were calling for the sack of Major General Maina and the Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Dambazzau.
The claim by Governor Jang that he called the GOC should be investigated through their call logs from their service providers and if the GOC is found to be lying, he should not only be dismissed, but be prosecuted for accessory to mass murder. He must be in the same league with the Charles Taylors of this world.
The latest crisis is fallout of the fact that culprits, even when known, are never prosecuted and punished. The vicious circle of revenge and counter revenge will go on if culprits are not punished by the law; the victims will always take laws into their hands. All the past Commissions of enquiries into the Jos crisis since 1999 had come up with nothing. Where the culprits are known, they are always left unpunished which encourages then to perpetrate more dastardly acts.
This is why the provocative statement of the Fulani leader and secretary, Sultan's Farmer /Cattle Rearers Conflict Committee, Saleh Bayari that,' under the circumstances of what has been happening in Plateau State, some people just have to die' is very unfortunate and he must be arrested and questioned by the authorities if there is still a constituted authority in Nigeria. Spiritually, Governor Jona Jang's reign in Plateau is too bloody. This may be a coincidence, but it is the bitter truth.
Another dangerous dimension to the latest Jos holocaust is that the army deliberately allowed the bestial act to give an impression that civil rule cannot adequately deal with sectarian violence and to slight Acting President Jonathan Goodluck that he is not in charge of the armed forces except in name only.
I believe this is in the realm of mere conjecture but events are confirming this perception. It is in the same fashion that troops were deployed to major streets in Abuja when ailing President Yar'Adua was about to be smuggled into Nigeria without the knowledge of the Acting President. The time to act for the Acting President is now or else, death will make Plateau state its permanent abode as today's victims may be on another revenge mission.
Hakeem Jamiu, [email protected], 0808 311 2749 SMS only.
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