….As police arrest 200 suspects over Sunday’s killings
By Taye Obateru
Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State has declared a three-day fasting to seek Godâ€™s intervention in the recurring violence in the state.
The declaration came even as the police said about 200 suspects have so far been arrested over last Sundayâ€™s attack on Dogon Nahawa village with some of them confessing that the were mercenaries paid to carry out the attack.
In a broadcast to the people on Wednesday, Governor Jang said the spiritual exercise which he said should be from tomorrow (Thursday) to Saturday was needed to â€œpray and cry out to God for the forgiveness of our sins, and to plead with him to bring peace on the Plateau and our dear nation, Nigeria.â€
He said â€œWe must not allow this to continue. Violence cannot be used as a way of solving conflicts. We must all respect each other irrespective of any affiliations. The responsibility of achieving peace is a collective one. Therefore, all hands must be on deck for us to achieve this goal.â€
He disclosed that he had given directives to local government chairmen and traditional rulers to organize regular dialogue sessions to promote harmony.
â€œThe challenge before us all now is how to move forward as a people and put this sad episode behind us. It is time to forgive and allow peace to reign. We must sheathe our swords and embrace harmonious coexistence.
My fellow Citizens, I know that as a people we can talk to ourselves in friendship and love. But we must also tell divisive outside forces to leave us alone to rebuild the Plateau that the world has always known as â€œHome of Peace and Tourismâ€ firmly anchored on the indomitable Plateau spirit. It is this spirit that has made Plateau the home of many nationalities over the years. Our spirit should not be dampened as I am convinced that we shall come out strongerâ€, the governor added.
Briefing journalists on the recent violence, Acting Commissioner of Police for the state, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba on Wednesday said some of those arrested also claimed to have been volunteers on revenge mission but were yet to name their sponsors.
He gave the number of those killed in Sundayâ€™s attack as 109 contradicting the 500 figure given by the state government. According to him, â€œAlthough the sudden and unnatural death of a single citizen is enough to mourn, but there is need to put the record straight. The unwholesome figure of 500 and 371variously credited to the state government through its Commissioner for Information is fabricated and should be disregarded.â€
He said he had no prior knowledge of the planned attacks on villages in the state contrary to insinuations adding that he had warned divisional police officers that they would be held responsible for any breach of the peace in their divisions.
Aduba said holding traditional rulers responsible for acts of violence in their domains could also be a good way to check recurring ethno-religious crises in parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the Plateau State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the attack on a reporter of Highland FM Station JOs who was almost lynched at the venue of the mass burial of victims of the violence at Dogon Nahuwa village where he had gone to carry out his official duty.
Chairman Katdapba Gobum and Secretary, Isaac Shobayo in a statement said journalists should be see as partners in the peace building process rather than as targets of attack.
Residents of the state capital continue to be on edge over rumours of impending attacks on the state from other parts of the country.
Many people did not go for their businesses on Wednesday or waited to study the situation before moving out of their houses following frightening text messages circulated the previous night that truck loads of mercenaries were heading for Jos to launch at attack.
The fear generated made man parents to prevent their children from going to school while most banks either did not open or closed early.