January 20, 2010

Jonathan decries bloodbath in Jos

Billowing smoke from a burnt house in Jos...yesterday

Billowing smoke from a burnt house in Jos...yesterday

Troops deployed as Jos violence worsens

150 dead; 24 hours curfew imposed

By Taye Obateru & Kingsley Omonobi
JOS —THE renewed violence in Jos, the Plateau State capital, appeared to have overwhelmed security agencies deployed to quell it when it erupted on Sunday.

As Vice  President Goodluck Jonathan described the bloodbath on the plateau as one crisis too many; declaring that “the Federal Government finds it most unacceptable, retrogressive, and capable of further sundering the bonds of unity in our country.”

Jos Religion Crisis: Indigene and Relatives of Jos resident in Abuja demonstrating, asking for National Assembly intervention on the current crisis in Jos, Capital of Plateau State at National Assembly Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

In this vein the army authorities, yesterday, deployed additional troops from the 3 Armoured Division in Jos to trouble spots in the city following the escalation of the violence with a view to bringing normalcy to the state.

VP says crisis is one too many
Vice  President Goodluck Jonathan described the bloodbath on the plateau as one crisis too many; declaring that “the Federal Government finds it most unacceptable, retrogressive, and capable of further sundering the bonds of unity in our country.”

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, said Nigeria cannot afford these constant eruptions, warning that government is determined to find a permanent solution to the Jos crisis.

The full text of the statement reads: “Once again, there has been an eruption in Jos, the Plateau State capital, accompanied by a most regrettable loss of lives and property. This is one crisis too many, and the Federal Government finds it most unacceptable, retrogressive, and capable of further sundering the bonds of unity in our country.

“The country cannot afford these constant eruptions, and while the situation has been brought under control by the security agencies, government is determined to find a permanent solution to the Jos crisis.

“Today, the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, convened a meeting of security chiefs to review the situation and initiate forward processes to reign in the violence. This is in addition to the initial orders for the urgent containment of the crisis. He has further directed an urgent meeting of all key stakeholders, towards achieving lasting peace in the area.

“Today, he also directed the Inspector General of Police and the top hierarchy of the security services, to proceed to Jos immediately to assess the situation and advise on further steps.

They are also to put in place comprehensive security strategies to ensure that these constant eruptions do not happen again. “The Vice President seizes this opportunity to call upon all Nigerians to remain law abiding and shun subversive tendencies such as we have just witnessed in Jos.

The Federal Government is determined to maintain law and order at all times since there can be no meaningful development in an atmosphere of disagreement and rancour.

“The Vice President is confident that our nation can move beyond our current challenges, no matter how daunting they may seem, to build an even greater Nigeria.”

Army authorities deploys additional troops

Army authorities, yesterday, deployed additional troops from the 3rd Armoured Division in Jos to trouble spots in the city following the escalation of the violence with a view to bringing normalcy to the state.

The crisis assumed a frightening dimension, yesterday, spreading to places like Bukuru, Apata, Alheri and other areas which had remained calm since the violence first broke out. There was sporadic shooting as some of the rioters allegedly engaged security men in a shootout with allegations that some people in fake military uniforms shot, killed or injured many in some places.

The sky was filled with smoke of burning buildings with worship houses and private buildings torched in many places.

Reuters news agency says nearly 150 people have been killed and dozens injured in three days of clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs . According to the report, “On Sunday evening, we buried 19 corpses and 52 yesterday. As of right now, there are 78 at the mosque yet to be buried,” said Muhammad Tanko Shittu, a worker organizing the mass burials at the city’s main mosque, adding that 90 people had been injured.

Unconfirmed reports said the soldiers initially deployed complained of inadequate vehicles while the police were said to be expecting more reinforcement in men and ammunition to enable them cope with the situation.

Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations, Mr. John Ahmadu came into Jos in a helicopter to oversee efforts to contain the crisis and flew around the city with the helicopter to assess the situation.

Many more people were said to have been killed as Christian and Moslem youths took on themselves, thereby increasing the number of displaced persons and compounding the humanitarian problem.

Scores of people joined those already at the NDLEA training school while the St. Michael Primary School in Nasarawa area became another camp for displaced people as hundreds of people whose houses were burnt took sanctuary there.

The Nigerian Red Cross said the number of displaced persons in various camps were now about 4,000.
Announcing the imposition of the 24-hour curfew, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Gregory Yenlong, said this followed a review of the security situation by the state security council. He said: “All residents are, therefore, advised to adhere strictly to this directive.

Residents are further advised not to take the laws into their hands but be calm as efforts are being made to bring the situation under control. All workers are advised to vacate all offices and return home immediately.”

Meanwhile, a food crisis has hit many families in the Plateau State capital following the violence in the state which necessitated the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in the metropolis.

Many families who spoke to Vanguard said they were shattered by the development as they had hoped to replenish their depleting food stock. Some of them explained that they were used to purchasing food items in small measures because they lacked the financial capacity to buy in large quantity.

They feared that unless normalcy returned soon to enable them re-stock they might go hungry, adding that some of them were currently relying on the goodwill of neighbours for foodstuff.

However, the Plateau State Government has constituted a Search and Rescue Committee to administer relief materials to victims of the violence.

Governor Jonah Jang who announced this in a broadcast last night expressed concern over the reported killing of innocent citizens by fake soldiers.

While suing for peace, the governor noted that whatever differences people had were better resolved through dialogue. He said: ‘We must realize that violence does no one any good. We must therefore resolve to settle our differences if any and or dispute through non violent means. The peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Nigerians depend on our collective efforts. Peace has to be worked for and all hands must be on deck to bring it to reality.

“I, therefore, appeal to our religious and community leaders, and indeed all citizens to rededicate our efforts towards enshrining peace in our beloved state’, Jang said.

He expressed regrets that efforts to restore peace to the state had again been truncated by forces he said do not mean it well.

“It is with pains that I address you my dear people of Plateau State. This government has, in the past one year, worked relentlessly to restore and sustain the peace we have been known for over the years. Our efforts have been made manifest through communal harmony, religious tolerance and maintaining security personnel on our streets in addition to continuous dialogue with various stakeholders so as to consolidate peace and security in the state.”

He sympathized with victims of the crisis and commended security agencies for their efforts to contain the crisis.

Soldiers deployed

Vanguard  gathered authoritatively from sources that the deployment of the soldiers to Jos was, however, ordered by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Abdurahman Dambazau after Vice President Goodluck Jonathan consulted with the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike and Dambazau.

The deployment of the soldiers, it was further gathered, followed continued violence and burning of mosques and churches by hoodlums who had cashed in on the situation even after the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the Plateau State government had taken effect.

Consequently, the soldiers whose deployment coincided with that of Mobile Policemen from the Police Force headquarters, were reported to have brought the violence under control with heavily armed soldiers and other security agencies said to be patrolling the streets of Jos and enforcing the curfew.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade confirmed the deployment of soldiers on the orders of the Chief of Army staff.

Bauchi Govt assures residents of security

The Bauchi State Government said, yesterday, that it has taken all security measures to prevent a spill-over of the crisis in the state as well as protect lives and property, just as the Senate President David Mark tasked the security agencies to put machinery in place to arrest the trouble makers.

Meanwhile the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the crisis urging the state government to urgently arrest the ugly situation.

A statement issued on Tuesday in Bauchi by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Dandija, said “it is gratifying to note that the pre-emptive measures adopted and applied by the state government have yielded positive results and are being sustained to ensure law and order in the state.” He called on residents not to panic as adequate security measures had been put in place to check possible crisis in the state.

Senate warns trouble makers

Reacting to the new violence in Jos, the Senate president said it was no longer palatable for the nation to just sit and watch a few people cause problems in Jos. He said: “Let me use this medium to sound a note of warning that we can no longer sit and watch these few individuals cause problems in Jos.”