Jos Crisis: ‘How my entire family was wiped out’
By Bilesanmi Olalekan
Jos used to be home to Nigerians of different nationalities and foreigners alike because of the serene atmosphere. But that appears to be in the past now as they leave the capital of Plateau State in droves, and that is for those who are lucky to be alive!
Hundreds of people would have died in the last three years when the crisis in the metropolis wore religious toga. Majority of the non-indegenes in the city – Yoruba from the West, Igbo from the East,the Ijaws from Niger-Delta – have lived all their lives there such that some of them could not trace their roots.
Such is the case of Yetunde Abosede Solomon who lost everything including her family to the crisis. This is the story of Yetunde who missed death on a day all the members of her family were wiped out and suddenly became a refugee in her father land.
”We were living in Bukuru area not far from the popular Ahmadu Bello Way in the Central Business District. We were formerly living around Lagos Road not far from the University of Jos campus before my dad, Mr Michael, got a parcel of land around Ahmadu Bello Way in 1992. As a matter of fact, my three younger siblings were born there. My dad, until 2007, was a staff of the Federal Ministry of Works. He was an accountant.
He retired in 2007. My mother, Shade, had always been a full-time house wife but that did not mean she was not doing something. She was selling provisions. We knew no other place other than Jos. My dad told us that he was also born in Jos as his father migrated from Ilesha in Osun State in 1948. My dad was born in 1950.
I think he met my mother in 1974. He married my mum few months later. I am the second child. Our first born, Segun,was born in 1975. I attended Command Secondary School before I later finished my programme at Kaduna Polytechnic. My elder brother, Segun,was an engineer.
He was self employed as he sought employment every where without success, so he decided to help himself. Titilayo was my immediate younger sister.
She finished from University of Jos. She read theatre arts while Wale just finished serving. He finished from University of Abuja where he graduated as a political scientist. Labake was the baby of the house even though she is already in 200 level accountancy in University of Jos. She was born in 1984″, she stated.
For the Solomons, the Jos crisis, just like several others in their shoes, would always be resolved however bad it may be. But if it was not resolved, the Solomons knew they could not go any where because there was actually no where to return to. But January 12,2012 will be an unforgettable day in Yetunde’s life.
It is a scar that will forever remind her of how her entire family members perished, within two hours. Prior to that date, according to Yetunde, specifically early December 2011,there had been a disagreement in which some Christians were targeted,fortunately the attempted attack was nipped in the bud by security agencies.
The presence of the military personnel in strategic areas of Jos metropolis provided some relief or so it appeared until that fateful day. Yetunde had left for Kano, a less than four hours journey from Jos, the previous day to buy gold but her inability to get what she wanted on time made her to pass the night in the city.
That action became her saving grace. By the time she returned to Jos around 11a.m. the following day, initially, according to her,”I was not sure of where I was because I could not locate our house neither did I see any of my family members.
My dad, I learnt, was the first that got the death treatment. He had come to check who was at the door when he heard somebody knocking; so he was the first to be killed before the assailants moved in to kill the other members of my family and there after burnt down our four-bedroom bungalow.”
The Solomons, the survivor claimed, were not the only casualties in the senseless killing; many other houses on their street were razed that day.
The houses, according to her, belonged to Christians. Unfortunately, government was slow in coming to their rescue such that the perpetrators of the dastardly act are yet to be apprehended. Majority of the survivors, mostly Christians, have had to flee as it became obvious that their lives were not secure.
“If I have my way too,I will leave this country because this (Jos) was and still the only place I have ever known. I have never been to the South, neither parents before their death, none of us ever visited and nobody visited us.
The unfortunate thing about this whole thing is the fact some of us that are victims know nothing about it but just because we are associated with a particular tribe which incidentally are Christians, that is why we are being persecuted”, she said as tears rolled down her eyes.
She continued: “As it is now, I don’t know anybody in Lagos or even Osun because if I have my way, I would really love to reunite with my extended family in Osun, but I don’t know any where there; my dad only said he was from Ilesha in Osun. I have been squatting with friends since then and for how long would I continue to be like this? All my certificates went with my family and building.”