Another View of the Jos Genocide
Muhammad Lawal Ishaq
The Plateau State Local Government Councils election has come and gone. The problems created by the elections will take a very long time to resolve. The bloodshed, maiming and carnage that followed the elections will haunt the State for ever.
Few things remain undisputed as facts. First is that the elections was held on an odd day as far as holding elections in Nigeria, a Thursday. No explanation, no matter how unreasonable, was offered by either the body responsible for the elections (PLASIEC) or the Plateau State Government.
Another undisputed and undeniable fact is that the usual election results collation centre for Jos North Local Government Area was changed from the Jos North Local Government Secretariat to Kabong, at the outskirt of the Jos. It should also be added that Kabong is one hundred per cent populated by the so called indigenes of Jos North who are mostly Christians.
It is also not in dispute that the same Local Government elections in Plateau State were cancelled after it was completed in most of the 17 Local Government Areas of the State in March 2008. All the reasons adduced by the State Government for the cancellation was accepted by only the PDP, the party perceived by many to be loosing the elections in some key Local Government Areas, including Jos North.
It is also a well known fact that Honourable Samaila A. Mohammed is currently the honourable member representing Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives. He secured a sizeable number of authentic votes which both the Election Petition Tribunal and the Appeal Tribunal confirmed. Before him, Honourable Shehu Sale Hassan contested and won the same seat and represented the same Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2004. Both won the seat under the ANPP.
It is also a fact that elections into Jos North Local Government Council were held last in 1999 with the tenure of those elected ending in 2002. Since then the last government of Chief Joshua C. Dariye failed to conduct election into the council. The general believe was that the failure to conduct the election was just to prevent a Hausa/Fulani Muslim, regarded as “settler” in Jos from winning the election. This believe is a supported with due consideration of the numerical strength of the so called Hausa/Fulani “settlers” in Jos North.
It is also not in dispute that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fielded both Christians as its Chairmanship and Deputy Chairmanship candidates for Jos North Local Government Council in the ill fated November election. While the leading opposition party in Jos North Local Government Area, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) fielded a Muslim and a Christian as Chairmanship and Deputy Chairmanship candidates in the Local Government Area for the same election.
It is also a fact that a new awareness had emerged in the Plateau State politics following the September 2001 crisis in Jos which later spread to some parts of the entire State, culminating with the imposition of State of Emergency on the State in 2004. That new awareness is to the effect that whosoever was endorsed by a body known as the Council of Ulama always wins election in Jos North Local Government. All those mentioned herein won their various seats via the endorsement of the Council of Ulama. This fact was never hidden to the Plateau State Government as the present governor Jang went begging before the same Council on two occasions for its support in his quest to occupy his present seat. That was in 2003 and 2007.
All the above enumerated facts need to be stressed in order to fully appreciate the events behind the recent unfortunate Jos crisis which will enable any objective mind to apportion blame to where it belongs.
Prior to the date fixed for the elections into Local Government Councils in Plateau, Jos North politics was over heated and a line was drawn. That line was that it was a direct contest between popular wish against the wish of the elites, mainly from the Berom tribe, supported by the Plateau State government, who imported a candidate from their tribe and bent on imposing him on the majority people of Jos North consisting of Hausa/Fulani, Afizere, and Anaguta. While there is no love lost between the Berom and the Hausa/Fulani in Jos North, the relationship between the Berom and the tribes of Afizere and Anaguta has deteriorated lately, largely due to the highhandedness and exclusivity of the former in the governance of both the State and Jos North Local Government Council. This scenario made it clear that any attempt to rig the election into the Local Government Council in Jos North is likely to throw the entire Local Government into confusion. This fact was very clear to the various security agencies in the State, who weekly meet with the State governor. That notwithstanding, the Plateau State government insisted on rigging and “winning” the election ala its neighbours of Bauchi and Nasarawa States, among other states that carried out the Local Government Councils election with a 100% victory for the ruling party. What does the Plateau State government do to ensure the confusion anticipated is contained? This is the one million naira question.
It is a general believe in almost all areas in Jos North that the ANPP candidate was winning the election with the 15 out of the 20 wards’ results already declared. It was also a general believe among members of the community to which this humble writer belongs that the election was only called for as a camouflage to further an agenda: to wit, to get rid of the Hausa/Fulani (and by extension) all Muslims in Jos to give way for the confirmation of the Jos as the headquarters of Christianity in the Northern part of Nigeria. This believe may seem wild and unsubstantiable.
But the reader may wish to consider the following allegations that occurred just before and immediately the crisis commenced. As earlier noted, the result collation centre for Jos North was taken to an area considered to be very hostile to members of our community (Kabong). Eye witness account indicated that after receipt of result of 15 wards ANPP candidate was leading his closest rival, the PDP candidate with 23,150 votes. At that stage, the returning officers for the remaining five wards came with very dubious results unaccompanied by the usual security personnel and party agents. The ANPP and DPP representatives at the collation centre complained against the receipt of such results in the absence of any satisfactory explanation as to what led the absence of those that ordinarily should accompany these result. There and then, the police and other security personnel attached to the collation centre hurriedly evacuated the electoral officials and party agents to the State police headquarters, according to them, for safety reasons. The few members of our community at the collation centre who went there under the policy of “akasa, atsare, araka” were instantly attacked. Some were killed there and then while the few lucky ones escaped with various degrees of injuries to report events. This triggered off the riot.
The start of the riot went as planned by the Plateau State government and those in support of the agenda that led to the fixing of the election. Soon report of mass killing by “some people in police uniform” began pouring in from areas densely populated by Hausa/Fulani and Muslims. Such areas early affected include the 100% Muslim populated Unguwan Rogo and Unguwan Rimi. Others were Rikkos, Behind Katako Market, Nasarawa, Congo Junction etc. The Muslims in Tudun Wada, an area not far away from Kabong was also among the early casualties as all the Muslim settlements in the area were burnt down and some totally demolished after many of them were killed mercilessly by “men in uniform with guns”.
Interestingly, and in furtherance of the said agenda, the economic interest of the Hausa/Fulani Muslims were not left in the planned attacked. The popular “yan buhu”, “yan katako” and “yan manja” all in the Katako Market, which pride itself of having a presence of a Division of the Nigeria Police Force close to the market, was totally razed down. Report had it that the Divisional Police Officer (a Muslim) was assigned to oversee the election in far away Langtang North to give way for the actualization of the plan towards the market. Those places were set ablaze in the very eyes and close supervision of the police officer sent to oversee affairs at the Laranto Division of the Nigeria Police.
The plan against our economic interest was further carried to Alheri, Zaria Road Jos where the heavy weights of the Muslims in the business of second hand vehicles sales were. Pama1, 2, & 3 Motors Ltd, Kega1 & 2 Motors Ltd, Sayak Motors, Blue Stars Motors, Alheri General Motors, ABS Motors, Farar Gada Motors, Haske Motors and Tilde Motors, all owned by the Hausa/Fulani Muslims were completely razed down. Motor vehicles worth over a billion naira were wasted there.
The coming of the military personnel on orders from the Federal Government brought succour to our helpless communities, though not immediately. The “men in uniform” believe to be working to actualize the Plateau State Government agenda continue to parade the areas mostly populated by the Muslims, went house to house and shot dead or arrest any youth and able bodied men found in such houses. These events were reported at Layin Zana, Bauchi Road, Rikkos, and Behind Dilimi etc. The number of Muslims so arrested is now above 500. Among this number, over 35 are juveniles who no one in his rights senses would perceived them as capable of engaging in a riotous situation of the scale witnessed in Jos between 28th and 29th November 2008. What is baffling and a further pointer to the fact that the Plateau State Government pre-planned the recent Jos killing is the fact that 90% of the Muslims so arrested in their various homes were clamped down into the Jos Federal Prison without any order of a court of law. This is because all the arrests were carried out between Friday evening of 28th and Sunday afternoon of 39th November. No court of law was around to order for the remand of those arrested. As at the time of writing this piece (Sunday 7th December) no single court ever sat in Jos since the occurrence of the crisis.
What further confirmed the hands of the Plateau State government in the killing of Muslims during the crisis was the use of new Toyota Hillux vehicles by most of the attackers. The vehicles were said be recently purchased by the Plateau state Government.
With normalcy now restored, what remains is the need to unearth the truth. This can only be done through the setting up of an impartial commission of enquiry. Such a commission can only be effectively and acceptably set up by a government other that the present Plateau State Government. Membership of the Commission should be equal for both the Muslims and the Christians. This is necessary so as to avoid the mistakes of the past where partial findings and recommendations usually came out from the highly partisan and lopsided Commissions thereby making the implementation of the recommendations impossible. The Chairman should be a person whose sense of justice and credibility is tested and proven to be impeccable.
The Muslims in Jos await justice, either here on earth, or in the Hereafter!