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JOS: How many more killings would be equal to justice?

By Kunle Oyatomi

Sad stories from Jos make me totally unhappy. I am disgusted by the mindlessness of the killings that have just taken place, because they are not only unnecessary, they paint a grotesque picture of the people who brought them about.

My knowledge of Jos in the past is that it was one of the most attractive places in Nigeria to live in. But not anymore because some criminals have turned parts of the city into a hell-hole where murder arson, rape and brutishness flair up at intervals with catastrophic results.

Somehow, there is a perception that religion is the cause of it all; but that’s shallow thinking. I believe that if anything, religion is simply being employed here as an excuse for murder. The Jos crisis runs far deeper than religious sentiments. There are more severe components in the satanic brew that cause the city to boil over and erupt in blood bath.

The people who occupy that space and call it home are themselves a critical part of the problem. But certainly not any less a problem than those who are responsible for law and order, as well as the dispensation of justice!! They are all involved through acts of commission and omission and should be held accountable for what is going on at regular intervals in Jos.

When in similar circumstances last year we groaned over the murderousness of the disturbances that claimed over 400 lives, little did we know (perhaps because we did not care enough), that a repeat performances will occur this year.

The security forces belatedly brought temporary peace to Jos; but those charged with the responsibility to dispense justice went to sleep. That slumber is behind the recurrence of the problem.

Any peace without justice is violence postponed. Since nobody was brought to justice for the crimes committed last year, the criminals were embolden   to repeat their atrocities this year with more sadistic brutishness. Why not? Isn’t impunity part of the political culture (or is it a sub-culture of the elites) which has become a tragic experience of our justice system?

Since high profile killings of Nigerians began in the heady days of dictatorships in Nigeria, who has ever been brought to justice? If people like Bola Ige, (former Attorney General of the Some  Federation), Funso Williams, Harry Marshal, (to mention just a few amongst the rich), and  journalists have been murdered and nobody has been brought to justice for these crimes, how much less should we expect that the poor people who are being criminally slaughtered in Jos stand the slightest chance of getting justice? This is by far the most horrible component of the Jos crisis.

The locals and the settlers who are at each other’s throats just have to learn the great lesson that all you get from violence is destruction. No matter what refuge they seek from the cover of religion, at best all they can get are ashes and illusion, pain and death, misery and compounded hatred and further crisis — a vicious circle that does nobody any good.

One truth should be admitted about this Jos crisis, and it is that government at the highest level in  Nigeria has done practically nothing to manage the disagreements between the locals and the settlers. Through the denial of “Justice”; the government has also encouraged criminality in Jos. As things are, the state stands accused of abandoning its responsibility for justice to all Nigerians regardless of their faith and status.

Government sounds hollow therefore when it talks about peace but cannot bring criminals involved in the heinous crimes committed in previous upheavals in Jos to justice. What appears to be peace in Jos, as we now experience it, is just a lull in hostilities forced on the community by military presence. Soldiers don’t make peace; they are trained to fight wars. Their presence can simulate peace. It would be a matter of time before hostilities resume after the soldiers leave.

Which then leaves us with the warring parties — the locals and the settlers. If they do not learn to have respect for the lives of each other, if they refuse to respect our common humanity here is no way they can live together in peace.

Mutual respect breeds tolerance, and with harmony and understanding between them they can manage the peace without outside interference. I have deliberately discountenance outside influences to this crisis because if there had been tolerance and understanding between “combatants”, no outside influence would be strong enough to ignite the fury of hatred and frustration which unleashed the mayhem that resulted in the current Jos crisis.

The people of Jos may have some lessons to learn from Modakeke in Osun State. In spite of the incentives provided by the Obasanjo regime, (or is it a combination of carrot and stick?), it  was when the settlers and indigenes of Ife developed respect and tolerance for each other that the peace was secured.

If the people of Jos are thinking of settling their problem through violence, like Troy, they can only succeed in turning the beautiful city of Jos into the ashes of history. And they themselves will be part of the ashes.

Cliton and Nigeria’s failed leadership

For the second time in a year US Secretary of State, Mrs Hilary Clinton has focused international attention on Nigeria for its going down the drain. She was here last year and interacted with people; and all she sensed was a country slipping into the abyss of failure.

Within six months of her visit she has gain spoken about Nigeria’s leadership failure “over many years to respond to the legitimate needs of their own young people to have a government that promoted a meritocracy that really understands that democracy can’t just be giving lip service, it has to be delivering services to the people….”

Who in the leadership of the country can fault Clinton on the her observation? When you have a leadership incapable of simple intelligent interpretation to the clause of the constitution for transfer of acting powers by an ailing president to his Vice, or a leadership that is unfamiliar with the implications of promoting injustice as in the case of Jos and many other situations in the country, there is no way we can expect the international community to take us seriously.

Our leaders appears not to be conscious of the dangers ahead. They are drunk with power, soaked in corruption and so terribly dim as to what the consequences of their misadventure in governance would be for the whole of Africa, that nothing for now seems capable of making them see reason.


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