By Taye Obateru & Ndahi Marama
Jos: Jos, the Plateau State capital which had enjoyed relative peace for several weeks erupted in another orgy of violence yesterday, leaving at least 20 dead and over 50 others injured. This happened just as the rampaging Islamic sect, Boko Haram struck again in Maiduguri, Borno State capital killing three people, including a local government chairman.
In the Jos violence, over 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were burnt with some of the occupants trapped inside as their vehicles were torched.
Top security chiefs in the state had last weekend met with religious and community leaders to fashion out strategies for a peaceful Sallah celebration in the state.
Eye witnesses gave different versions of what led to the fresh violence. A version said members of the ‘Izala’ Islamic Group who celebrated the end of the Ramadan yesterday were attacked by youths along Rukuba Road, a Christian dominated area while going for prayers at an abandoned mosque located in the area. The mosque was abandoned in the wake of the previous crisis.
However, another version said the Muslim youths going for the prayers, contrary to the directive of the police that they must not carry dangerous weapons to the praying grounds during the Sallah, brandished daggers, knives and other dangerous weapons which they waved dangerously at residents of the area as they drove past.
This was said to have infuriated the residents who were said to have mobilized in preparation for a showdown with the Muslims after the prayers, but were dispersed by members of the Special Task Force (STF) who allegedly shot and killed some of them.
The youths were said to have gone berserk when they were allegedly shot at from inside the mosque and in retaliation they stormed the mosque where they torched parked vehicles and motorcycles. They also allegedly attacked and killed some people inside the mosque.
Unconfirmed reports said some of the rampaging youths were killed when soldiers opened fire to curtail the violence while several were injured and rushed to hospital.
A combined team of the army and the police had to escort scores of Muslims out of the area to safety as angry youths had stationed themselves for a showdown.
Similar killings were reported in other parts like Farin Gada area where our correspondent saw about seven corpses allegedly killed by angry youths being removed by members of the STF.
The tension generated by the violence saw people hurriedly locking up their businesses and running for their lives in most parts of the city.
State govt calls for calm
Meanwhile, the Plateau State Government has called for calm saying it has taken necessary measures to curtail the situation.
Briefing journalists yesterday, the Commissioner for information and Communication, Mr. Yiljap Abraham described the situation as unfortunate coming at a time government was doing everything to consolidate on the peace in the state.
He advised people not to take the law into their hands as the state government would not tolerate any further threat to peace in the state.
He said the state Ministry of Health has been directed to supply the hospitals treating the injured.
Boko Haram kills LG chairman, two others
24 hours to the end of the Ramadan, Islamic sect, Boko Haram struck in Maiduguri killing the caretaker chairman of Kukawa local government area of Borno state, Alhaji Lawan Yarayi, alongside two other spare part dealers in Gamboru. Alhaji Yarayi was shot dead Sunday night at his residence in Bulabulin Ngarannam area of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council while the spare part dealers in Gamboru, were killed by two gunmen on a tricycle at the traders’ residence and fled, abandoning the tricycle with which they carried out the killings.
Borno State police commissioner, Simeon Midenda who confirmed the incidents to newsmen on phone said it was after the killers had left that his neighbors raised alarm which prompted policemen to go to the scene.
According to the CP no arrest was made but the police have got a clue which can help in tracking down the gunmen.
It was gathered that the chairman was trailed by the gunmen from Kukawa in Kukawa local government area of the state before he was shot dead at his residence in Maiduguri .
An eye witness who does not want his name in print said that the incident occurred at about 8.45pm on Sunday night
He said the gunmen told the security men at the gate that they were politicians who came to see the chairman before they were allowed into the compound and on sighting the LG boss they opened fire on him and fled.
The body of the chairman was immediately taken to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) morgue and later buried according to Islamic rites.
Gov Shettima condoles
Meanwhile, Governor Kashim Shettima has condoled families of the slain council chief and traders in a text message he sent to our Correspondent in Maiduguri on Monday night, while performing his lesser hajj in Mecca , Saudi Arabia .
The condolence message reads in part: “may the Al-mighty God grant the families the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses,” praying that may their souls rest in perfect peace.
He said the Borno state government would not relent in its efforts to sustain the “relative peace and social harmony” that has prevailed in the past couple of weeks.
Shettima maintained that the insecurity to lives and property in the state, is however a temporary eclipse, adding that; “the Borno sun will continue shining again.”
Also, members of the Joint Task Force who are in the state to restore law and order has assured the general public that adequate security measures have been put in place to ensure a hitch –free Eid’el Fitir celebrations.