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Jos – Not Another Panel

THE Federal Government has again proven it prefers words to deeds in critical matters affecting the country. The Jos crisis is one. In 11 years of civil rule, there have been at least five riots in Plateau State, with four of them in Jos alone.

Under Obasanjo the solution was a state of emergency that fragmented the State. The two riots of the past two years are off-shoots of the ignored issues of the earlier riots.

Whether it is the disturbances in Yelwa-Shendam-Wase in 2002 or riots in Jos in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009, the huge loss of lives, the extensive destruction of property and the threats of further riots are indications of deep-rooted hatred that has grown from years of promoting ethnic and religious hegemony.

Things worsen with each riot. Tonnes of reports detailing causes of the riots, their perpetrators with recommendations on actions to be taken, are left to gather dust on some shelves. Plateau State is notorious for not implementing reports of panels on riots. Plateau is also the only State where suspects arrested after riots are taken to Abuja, where they are released.

Courts in Plateau State are never considered suitable to try the suspects. This regime of impunity in handling of these riots has emboldened the sponsors of new riots who know that they too would not be tried, not even arrested.

The November 2008 riot was the subject of two probes, the Justice Bola Ajibola panel by the Plateau State Government, which has finished its work and the on going General Emmanuel Abisoye panel of the Federal Government.

Why would the Federal Government undermine itself by setting up another panel? What would this panel do? How would its work be different from the earlier panels? Would it halt the instigations from Bauchi State? Would it return suspects that were taken to Abuja after the 2008 riots?

How are riots in Jos different from those in Kano in 1957,  most parts of northern Nigeria in 1966, Kano in 1980, Maiduguri in 1982, Jimeta in 1984, Gombe in 1985, Kaduna and Kafanchan in 1991, Bauchi, Katsina, and Kano in 1991, Zango-Kataf in 1992, Funtua in 1993, Kano in 1994 and 2000, Kaduna Sharia riot 2001, Kano 2004 and 2007, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano in 2009?

Whereas in those places the indigenous populations, as well as settlers, see the need for peace, in Plateau, the trouble makers  have outsiders who import mercenaries to help them destabilise Jos. It is a consistent pattern of the riots, which are so planned that some people are able to evacuate their families and moveable properties before the destructions commence.

The same mercenaries, if arrested, are taken to Abuja and freed. Will the Solomon Lar panel stop these trends?

Until perpetrators of riots in Jos realise they would be punished, they would continue, no matter the number of panels anyone sets up.

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