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See What They Turned Jos Into
Violence resurfaced in Jos, Plateau State, last weekend in the midst of general insecurity. ISAAC SHOBAYO writes that residents are marooned in their homes as government officials relocate to Abuja for politics, creating a near vacuum in governance.
Just when residents thought everything had died down, the crisis in Jos and Plateau State at large suddenly took a new dimension with multiple bomb explosions that rocked the city on Christmas Eve, leading to the death of many people and several others injured.
Still reeling from the incident, the city again experienced another orgy of violence last Saturday. Like the previous ones, many people were also killed and several property destroyed.
Though the actual cause of the recent incident is yet to be fully ascertained, one of the versions had was that it was caused by a sudden shifting of venue of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) congress to another venue without informing some members of the party.
The state police command corroborated this, saying that it was the in-fighting that ensued among the CPC members that led to the Saturday crisis. Seven officilas of the party have consequently been charged to court over the incident, despite the denial by members of the party over the position of the police.
Another incident, which is considered as the major cause of the crisis, was the disappearance of five Muslim youths while returning from a wedding ceremony in Mangu Local Government Area of the state. They were alleged to have been waylaid, killed and buried in a shallow grave.
According to a statement issued by the Ulama/Elders Council Plateau State, signed its secretary, Mr. Lawal Isaq made available to Saturday Tribune in Jos, the council said it received a report late on Friday that some Muslims youths were attacked on their way from a wedding ceremony of their friend in Mangu Local Government Area of the state.
It added that the vehicle conveying the eight of them, was declared missing and the entire occupants allegedly killed, adding that the driver of the vehicle allegedly called the groom on phone and informed him that they were about to be killed.
The council further pointed out that the line subsequently went off.
When the news of their disappearance filtered out at about 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, some youths within Jos city mobilsed and carried out what people called 'organised reprisal attack.'
In the melee that ensued, people were killed. Areas affected on the first day of the crisis were Dilimi, Masalasi, Tina Junction and Bauchi road. A luxury bus heading for Yola, Adamawa State was intercepted and burnt down while some of the passengers escaped with varying degrees of injuries.
Twist to the Crisis
A twist to the crisis was introduced when the military task force in charge of security in Jos arrested some of its own men, when an identity card belonging to a soldier, a cheque book of an old generation bank and other documents were discovered at the scene of the incident.
Spokesman of the Special Task Force, Captain Charles Ekocha, said five soldiers who were on duty at Riyom when the attack occurred at Wareng village had been arrested.
Capt. Ekeocha said that the soldiers were arrested to ascertain what went wrong at their duty post when the attack took place. The STF officer disclosed further that after the attack, a name tag of an operative of STF, Operation Mesa with number ST 296 was found at the scene and bank documents with the name of Abdullahi Mohammed.
While security was beefed up, that did not disuade some people from trying to further carry out attacks. For example, an attempt to bomb the Plateau State House of Assembly was foiled on Tuesday as a middle aged man was nabbed within assembly complex with some objects and substances suspected to be explosive devices.
Speaking while handing over the suspects to the commander of the Special Task Force, Brigadier Hassan Umaru, the Speaker of the House, Honourable Istifanus Mwansat, said the suspect was questioned and apprehended by the security men within the House.
He said when accosted, the suspect claimed to be going somewhere which had no link with the house.
According to him, on searching the black polythene bag in his possession, some pieces of cloths, a small tin suspected to contain an explosive device and other objects were found in it.
Like a bush fire, the situation spread to Jos South Local Government Area of the state where several houses were burnt and people killed at random. The silent killings that followed at different parts of the city as well as sporadic shooting in the night forced a lot of people to stay indoors.
Indeed, for six days running, both Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas of the state were a ghost of their former selves as all the streets were deserted. Pedestrian and vehicular movements were also impaired as residents remained indoors for most part of the day. The situation was further compounded by Igbo traders who abandoned their shops and business places to protest the alleged killing of over 40 Igbo traders killed at the Dilimi market in Jos North Local Government Area.
Those who did not have enough stock of food suffered most because all markets were deserted while prices of goods suddenly went up. All the filling stations had been shut while four litres of petrol jumped from about the normal N260 to N1000. The situation of the state capital could be likened to a war-torn country where people are afraid of coming out.
The situation was further compounded by alleged silient killings in some parts of the city, which had made people to be wary of going to unfamiliar areas for fear of being hacked down. The Muslims avoided Christians dominated area vice versa.
Without the government declaring a public holiday, civil servants have continued to stay at home at both Jos North and Jos South local government areas, while the state secretariat has been closed down as workers abstained from work. Major streets like Ahmadu Bello way, Rwang Pam Street, D.B Zang way and Tafawa Balewa streets which are commercial hubs of Jos city are also deserted.
All commercial banks were also at the time of writing this report closed and ATM cash points could no longer dispense cash.
Reacting to the crisis, President-General of the Igbo Community Association in Jos, Chief Richard Wayas, said that the leadership of the Igbo in the state had asked Ndigbo to close their shops to protest the killing of their kins, adding that the killing of his people especially at Dilimi market was carried out in an organised way.
Chief Wayas said that the step was just the beginning as the Igbo community intended to take more action to drum it into the ears of the authorities that more decisive action needed to be taken to curb religious extremism in the state.
“The Igbo have been known to be peace-loving anywhere they are found, pursuing their legitimate businesses. The attack on the Igbo in Jos have been going on for a long time and we have always preached to our people to remain calm, but this time around, we have been touched at the very core of our conscience and we can no longer pretend that all is well.
“We won’t fight anybody, but we will continue to protest non-violently until something was done. We are not and will not be the aggressors because we are not violent, but we must make a point,” Wayas said.
Speaking with newsmen on security situation in the state especially concerning markets, banks and other commercial premises that have remained closed, the Commander of the Special Task Force (STF), Brigadier-General Hassan Umaru, said he plans to meet with the chief executives of banks, traders association and others on the need to open their business premises, adding that their security would be guaranteed as soon as they opened for business.
Government activities have also become paralysed as many government officials have relocated to Abuja for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national congress.Share