By Taye Obateru & Daniel Idonor
JOSâ€” RELATIVE calm returned to Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday, amidst outcry by some citizens of the menace of fake soldiers said to be silently invading homes and shooting innocent people.
At least 14 women were shot and wounded by the fake soldiers in Anglo-Jos area while similar attacks were reported in places like Bukuru, Hwolshe and Tudun Wada.
A hospital source told Vanguard that pellets of locally made guns were removed from their bodies.
Unconfirmed reports said two of the fake soldiers were arrested in Tudun Wada after they attacked some innocent citizens in the area. There were reports of some youths in Pankshin launching reprisal attacks on people but the situation was said to have been promptly contained by security men.
Residents said the fighting spread overnight to areas on the fringes of the state capital. Idris Sarki, who fled into Jos from the nearby town of Kuru Karama, said â€œattacks are still going on in areas in the southern parts of the city…. The area I came from has been sacked, all residents like me who are fortunate have left, but many, many have been killed.â€
Witnesses reported that the mobs went from house to house hacking and shooting those inside, defying the curfew.
Buildings and vehicles were set ablaze and smoke rose over several parts of the city.
The northern-based Civil Rights Congress put the number of displaced at â€œover 50,000,â€ according to its director,Â Shenu Sani. The American based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the security forces to use restraint â€œand comply with international standards on the use of force in responding to the latest deadly outbreak of inter-communal violenceâ€.
Reports say thousands of residents have fled the city as a result of the carnage that has left no fewer than 464 dead and at least 20,000 taking refuge in military barracks, churches and mosques while Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday morning engaged in another round of meeting with top security chiefs over the matter.
VP meets security chiefs
Those in attendance at the meeting which began as early 8:30 a.m were the Chief of Defence Staff, Minister of Interior among others.
The security meeting was immediately followed by the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) which rose in support Vice President Goodluck Jonathan on the measures he has taken to contain the crisis that erupted last Sunday.
The Vice President had, a day earlier, deployed soldiers to the state and directed the military and police top hierarchy to urgently contain the situation while the 24-hour curfew imposed on the city lasted.
The FEC which was presided over by Jonathan at the Presidential Villa having reviewed the situation also expressed its deep sympathy to victims of the mayhem.
The Minister of State for Information, Ikra Bilbis, who briefed newsmen on the outcome of the meeting said â€œFEC is greatly disturbed about the crisis in Josâ€ even as he recalled that Jonathan had already given stern instructions to relevant security agencies.
â€œThe Council expresses its deep sympathy to all those who lost their loved ones and property in the crisis and promises that government will do all in its powers to ensure that lives and properties are protectedâ€, he added.
Curfew now 5p.mto 10a.m
Following the relative calm that has returned to the city, the state government announced a review of the 24-hour curfew which would now be observed from 5.00 pm to 10.00 a.m.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Gregory Yenlong announced the suspension of the use of motorcycles in the Jos-Bukuru metropolis until further notice.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau who was in the state to assess the situation said the issue of the fake soldiers was being investigated, adding that everything was being done to restore normalcy. The army chief who visited the various camps for displaced persons promised that the army would assist in supplying water and other needs to the camps.
A similar assurance to contain the violence had earlier been given by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo who described the extent of destruction as substantial after a tour of the affected areas late Tuesday. He said with the deployment of more security personnel to the state, the situation should return to normal soon.
Receiving the police chief, Governor Jonah Jang who commended security agencies for the efforts to contain the crisis stressed the need for perpetrators of the mayhem to be brought to book to serve as a deterrent. He urged him to constitute a committee to investigate the current crisis with a view to identifying the culprits and