30 November, 2008

Violence in Jos following local elections




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.
Governor Jang who went round some of the affected areas, yesterday morning, directed security men to shoot on sight trouble makers and asked that the curfew in some of the most troubled areas be extended to 24 hours while the curfew in other parts remains from 6.p.m. to 6 a.m.

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.


ThisDay online

Death Toll in Jos Riot Rises to 350

•Armed men arrested
From Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Ruben Buhari in Kaduna and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, 11.30.2008

The Plateau State Gover-nment has ordered security operatives comprising men of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, and Mobile Police to 'shoot on sight' anybody fomenting crisis or defying the curfew order imposed on the state capital, Jos. The order was the government's latest response to end the riot in Jos, which death toll, as at yesterday evening, had risen to 350.
Giving the order yesterday morning following fresh killings that started at the Tinna Junction and Mando areas of the city, the state Governor, Da Jonah Jang, said the state government would not sit back and watch thugs wreck more havoc on innocent citizens.
THISDAY also gathered that security operatives yesterday intercepted about 500 men armed with weapons on their way to Jos. THISDAY could not however independently verify the figure.
The arrest was a sign that the warring groups are regrouping.
Jang also said his action was informed by his on-the-spot assessment of the situation, particularly in the affected areas.
He lamented that having gone round the city to ascertain the extent of damage, the loss of lives and property and the gory sights of destruction that trailed the city, he had no alternative than to give the order. The Governor however, appealed for calm saying "government is on top of the situation".
Addressing journalists at the Press Centre in Jos, officials of the Nigerian Red Cross Society said the society had deposited 150 corpses of victims of the riot at the Central Mosque.
However, unconfirmed reports say the death toll had risen beyond the figure given by the Society.
Agence France Press (AFP) reports that 381 bodies were yesterday placed in a mosque in Jos.
The Associated Press (AP) also reported that bodies with fresh wounds arrived at the city's main mosque for quick burial in keeping with Islamic precepts.
Many christians have also lost their lives as what started as post-election violence takes a religious colouration.
Citizens who had fled their homes are taking refuge in National Drug Law Enforc-ement Agency (NDLEA) command, Recos, NDLEA Regional Academy Central Mosque, Macalashi Jumat, ECWA Church, Apata, University of Jos Senior Staff Quarters, and Rukuba Army Barracks.
The Director of Press to the Governor, James Mannok said over 500 rioters have been arrested with weapons and stolen items. He said they are being quizzed by the Police. He said more security personnel have been deployed from neighbouring states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to bring the situation under control.
THISDAY also gathered after going round the city yesterday that the level of damage to lives and properties is enormous. Thousands of new cars at various car-stands, and many houses along Zaria road were razed. Churches and Mosques were also torched in Chobe Junction. Also, corpses were being evacuated from the streets by members of the Red-cross, and the Police. A few corpses still litter the streets in Katako area of the city.
Residents living in hot spots like Bauchi road, Ali Kazaure, Recos, Angwa rogo and Gengere were ordered by the state government to remain indoors 24 hrs, while those in other parts of Jos and Bukuru are to comply with the dusk to dawn curfew.
The fresh outbreak of crisis followed the declaration of election results which gave victory to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the entire 17 local government areas.
Reacting to the crisis, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a press briefing denied the report that it was its group that started the attack.
The state's CAN chairman, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama said "We were taken aback by the turn of events in Jos. We thought it was political, but from all indications it is not so. We were 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 were a political conflict? Why were the business premises and property of innocent civilians destroyed? We strongly feel that it was not political, but pre-meditated act under the guise of elections".
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) als appealled for restraint to all inohabitants of Jos, the Plateau state capital, over the recent crisis that engulfed parts of the city.
Making the appeal in Kaduna, CAN's National General Secretary, Engr. Samuel Salifu who spoke to reporters said the association is deeply worried over the local government crisis which he said has been turned into a religious crisis by certain groups and individuals.
Salifu said: "CAN is sick and tired of these type of repetitive crises that keep happening in Jos, Bauchi, Kano, Maiduguri, Zangon Kataf, Kaduna and host of other places in Nigeria with attendant loss of lives and properties. We are calling on all the people of the state to be calm and also calling on the state government to promptly put a stop to the killings and burning and find a way of addressing future issues before they degenerate into killings."
He also accused government and politicians of always being responsible for most crises in the country by saying that when certain state governments and politicians fail to have their way or want to get cheap popularity, they resort to playing the religious card which most often results into crises.
Also reacting to the fresh crises, some citizens blamed the government, and Plateau Independent Electoral Commi-ssion (PLASIEC) for announcing the results of the election at the height of the crisis. They noted that the commission should have allowed the situation to calm down a little.
Also, a non-governmental organisation, Human Right Writers Association (HURIWA), yesterday blamed the Jos riots, on the failure of security intelligence by all relevant security agencies in the country. The group also canvassed that severe punitive measures be meted out to the masterminds of the violence to serve as effective deterrence while the police commissioner in state and the state Director of the State Security Service (SSS) be sacked for alleged dereliction of duties.
In its own reaction to the crisis, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) faction led by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has called for the declaration of emergency rule in the state over the raging crisis, while also blaming the incident on Jang who it said was desperate to win the Jos North Local Government election at all cost.
Also, the Action Congress (AC) has called for the cancellation of the Plateau council polls, since the perceived rigging of the elections is the main cause of the violence that has now left over 300 people dead and hundreds wounded or displaced in the Jos North local government area.In an interview with THISDAY in Abuja, the Secretary of ANPP Presidential Council, Engr. Buba Galadima called for the declaration of emergency rule in the state over the continued killing and maiming of people by thugs perceived to be armed by the state government.
According to Buba Galadima, "we feel bad that election ANPP won has been denied it again., It was denied because the national secretariat of the party has been compromised and its members are therefore left without any sense of direction.
"In view of the continued killing, we call on the federal government to declare a state of emmegency in the state before it is too late. Military men should be drafted to the state to dislodge those in uniform allegedly armed by the state government. We equally call for the cancellation of the result of the council election since cancel election was the main issue."
Buba Galadima said that information received by the Buhari Organisation shows that the biggest Motor Company in Jos, named Femma Motors was burned down with over 100 vehicles parked at the garage. Also the auto shop of Ibrahim Saleh Hassan, son of Alhaji Saleh Hassan, former national chairman of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) was burned down.
The Buhari group also called on government to set up an indepedent Judiciary Enquiry Panel to investigate the cause of the crisis.
Also in a statement issued in Abuja Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, the Action Congress (AC) Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also condemned the government's gross insensitivity in going ahead to release the results of the elections, especially that of the Jos North that precipitated the crisis, even as the smoke was yet to clear from the ruins of the violence.

New Nigerian online

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.
_______________________________

Dear All,

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.

--
UC Enwereuzor
Udo diri unu nile!

1 comment:

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

lack of accurate information in Nigeria makes things so difficult.

May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace.

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