Plateau crisis: 1000 mercenaries arrested(Nigerian Tribune)
By Isaac Shobayo, Jos (with agency reports) - 30.11.2008
OVER 1,000 mercenaries imported from neighbouring states to take part in the Jos crisis have been arrested by the Plateau state police command.
A lot of them were allegedly imported from neighbouring states. Sunday Tribune also gathered that as at Saturday, gunshots still rent the air in some part of the Jos North local government as youths continue to mobilise in the guise of protecting their area while burning of places of worship and silent reprisal attack continued.
In Agwan Jarawa, the youths in the area, in the early hours of Saturday, apprehended from people in military uniforms armed with guns and ready to attack the area were discovered to be fake soldiers because of the way they dressed.
Going round Jos on Saturday, Sunday Tribune discovered that car dealers in the state were worst hit. At Zaria road over one hundred exotic cars displayed for sale were burnt by the protesters on Friday.
Death toll also rose to 35 in worst sectarian violence in years. After a night of assault-rifle fire and explosions, 20 bodies with fresh wounds arrived at the city's main mosque for quick burial in keeping with Islamic precepts.
The Plateau State government said on state radio that an around-the-clock curfew had been ordered for the hardest-hit parts of Jos and that government troops had orders to shoot on sight any troublemakers in city streets.
Local ethnic and religious leaders made radio appeals for calm. Security forces dispersed marauding gangs after a previous, dusk-to-dawn curfew expired and the churches, mosques and several homes were destroyed.
The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region's two main political parties following the first local election in the town of Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausa Muslim northerners doing battle with members of Christian ethnic groups.
Angry mobs gathered after electoral workers failed to publicly post results in ballot collation centers, prompting many onlookers to assume the vote was the latest in a long line of fraudulent Nigerian elections. Riots flared on Friday morning, as irate youths set up roadblocks across the city.
Jos has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. The latest violence is the worst since the May 2007 inauguration of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who came to power last year in a vote that international observers dismissed as not credible.
|Jos riot escalates- The Vanguard|
|Written by Taye Obateru|
|Sunday, 30 November 2008|
|THE violence in Jos, Plateau State capital, continued, yesterday, with reprisal attacks leading to more deaths and loss of property, forcing the state government to extend the curfew in some areas to 24 hours. |
This happened as Governor Jonah Jang was said to have been summoned to Abuja by President Umar Yar'Adua on the crisis while an Assistant Inspector-General was reportedly sent to the state to oversee police efforts to combat the crisis.
Many more lives were lost while houses and property were torched as many more had to relocate from areas considered unsafe. Food crisis has also hit many people as markets and shops remained shut, making it impossible for people to buy food and other needs. Sounds of gunshots also continued in many parts of the city for the better part of the day as many of the rioters were said to be well armed.
About 1,500 youths, said to have been brought from neighbouring states of Bauchi and Gombe, were arrested and paraded by security men yesterday afternoon. They claimed they were brought in to join the fight.
Detecting miscreants was becoming difficult as many of them operated in army and police uniforms making them to catch their victims unawares. Two of such who operated in army uniform were caught and allegedly killed in Farin Gada area.
Amidst the crisis, Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASEIC) announced the result of the council elections which saw the ruling Peoples Democratic Party winning the chairmanship of all the 17 local government areas.
Chairman of the commission, Mr. Gabriel Zi, announced the results on Friday night amidst tight security.
Director of Press and Public Affairs to the governor, Mr. James Mannok, said, in a statement, that the 24-hour curfew would be observed in Nasarawa, Congo Russia, Rikkos, Bauchi Road and the University of Jos while advising residents to stay indoors for their safety.
However, the release of results of the election amidst the crisis was condemned by the former Information Commissioner in the Dariye administration, Mr. Yakubu Dati, who described it as the height of insensitivity by government.
"Announcing election results which is the initial cause of the crisis while the crisis is still at its height betrays the government's insensitivity and lack of capacity to comprehend the issues. Indeed, Governor Jonah Jang and his retinue of advisers are overwhelmed, We appeal to the Federal Government to intervene decisively to check this needless waste of lives and property", he said.
An unspecified number of corpses were seen being conveyed to the Zaria Road cemetery in a military truck for mass burial while dead bodies along some streets were also being picked up by security men.
Reacting to the crisis, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, Arch Bishop Ignatius Kaigama expressed shock that churches and clergy men became targets over a purely political matter.
Addressing a press conference, yesterday, he called on the state government to come to the aid of those displaced or injured and to bring to book those behind the crisis.
"We are greatly taken aback by the turn of events in Jos. We thought it was a political issue, but, from all indications, it is not so. We are surprised at the way some of our churches and property were attacked and some of our faithful and clergy killed.
"The attacks were carefully planned and executed. The questions that bog our minds are: Why were churches and clergy attacked and killed? Why were politicians and political party offices not attacked, if it was a political conflict? Why were the business premises and property of innocent civilians destroyed? We strongly feel that it was not political but a pre-meditated act under the guise of elections", CAN said.
20 feared dead in Plateau LGs poll crisis...curfew imposed
By Bukar Bello, Jos |
TWENTY people were feared dead in yesterday's skirmish in Jos North local government area of Plateau state following disputes over results of council polls. The dead include some believed to be students of the University of Jos. Some accounts put the number of fatalities at above 50. Over 250 people were injured in the clash.
Two serving generals in the Nigerian Army, Major General Nick Agbogun and Brigadier General U.J. Uwurgbe, who were returning from Chief of Army Staff conference, in Yankari, Bauchi state and a government house driver from Bauchi were also shot and in the cross fire by opposing political camps who took over the streets in barely all parts of the city.
Eyewitnesses account, and supporters of the All Nigerian People's Party in Jos North local government area were said to have reacted in anger following speculations that their candidate, whom they said was leading the PDP candidate suddenly lost becausf e he was short-changed.
The results of the elections were still being collated when the crisis broke out due the fear that had already engulfed supporters of the ANPP pushed youths of the party to demand for the release of the result without waiting for the electoral ward PDP supporters were hoping to give them a clear win.
Declaring a curfew from dusk to dawn, yesterday in a state wide broadcast, the state governor, Jonah David Jang said "unfortunately, reports got to me early hours of this morning regarding eruption of violence emanating from Ali Kazaure Street, Jos. I want all to note that this problem is restricted to Jos city only".
Jang said "a few hours after the close of election, a group of thugs took the law into their hands by attacking residents and destroying houses and property in some parts of Jos.
"The security council met to the early hours of this morning and directed the police to respond accordingly.
He said wish to warn that any further disruption of the peace will be met with drastic sanctions. The security details are under instruction to return fire-for-fire from any person or group disrupting the peace".
A tense calm has however returned to the city as at the time of this report. Police patrol vehicles were seen evacuating dead bodies on the street raising more fears that many more victims were yet to be recovered.
Police public relations officer, Bala Kassim confirmed that one police officer was killed. Hundreds of citizens are now taking refuge at the Jos University Hospital, JUTH, where most of the bodies of victims were deposited, even as many residents of the Jos North are now taking refuse at the Maxwell Khobe Cantonment, Rukuba Barracks, in Bassa local government area.
Reacting to the situation, an AC chieftain Yakubu Dati described it as "a failure of governance. He accused the government of a "desperate and callous attempt of the govt to deny the people their rights to choose their leaders is the cause of the crisis, saying its a government that has lost the moral ground to lead. We call on the federal government to intervene promptly to check the breakdown of law and order"
Sympathizing with those that lost their loved ones and properties Dati appealed for calm. He said "the creation of Development areas, District and Chiefdoms in Jos by the previous administration achieved the desired result of sense of belonging and peaceful coexistence. Their dissolution without any option created a negative effect"The incident took ethnic and religious dimension when the declared winner and loser were perceived as being of Christian and Muslim faiths.
As you can read for yourselves, accounts of the number of casualties are contracdictory and quite uncertain. Whatever the correct figures may be, the situation remains a human tragedy with no end in sight. The fact that all the governor can come up with is to order security forces to shoot on sight anyone disobeying the dusk till dawn curfew means that we'll have more people shot but this time by the security forces. And of course, there will be no guarantee of any sort that the victims will be guilty of violating the law, talk less of planning to kill others. We collectively continue to think that the only way to counter violence is by further and more terrying violence.
All these notwithstanding, a nice weekend to you all.
Udo diri unu nile!