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Acting President, do something about bloodbath in Jos

But the most astonishing story from Jos may not be the bloodbath but the role that the army refused to play to halt it. Governor…

But the most astonishing story from Jos may not be the bloodbath but the role that the army refused to play to halt it. Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State revealed last Tuesday that when he received complaints from villagers that there were strange movements around the communities, he put a call through to the General Officer Commanding the Third Armoured Division, Major General Maina Saleh, but the army refused to mobilise to the villages to prevent the massacre.  

This is shocking because, in the past, there have been rumours about security agencies supporting ethnic and religious groups in Plateau conflicts, but not so brazenly. Though the army attempted to humiliate Governor Jang by saying that the man is naïve and partisan, the vital response Nigerians expected from the army was not given.

On Thursday, the GOC claimed that Governor Jang never called him, and that the Fulani invaders outsmarted his own intelligence because he sent his troops in the wrong direction that Sunday morning.

The message in this poor intelligence is that Plateau residents, whether Christians or Muslims, indigenes or settlers, should resort to self-help, because the army cannot protect them. This position rubbishes all the efforts by the federal government to find a lasting solution to the recurring conflicts in Plateau State. In the past two years, there have been three different commissions of inquiry set up to unravel the causes of violence in the state. If security operatives are those sabotaging the efforts of government in this regard, then the answer to the question is not far-fetched. In the crisis in January, we had reports of persons in police uniforms entering villages and killing people. Now, it is the army not helping those who were being killed. Security operatives are actively sabotaging efforts to restore peace in the state.

This is very dangerous. We have discovered how damaging self-help measures can be. In the Niger Delta region where militants took up arms against oil facilities and expatriate workers, the federal government had to go on its knees, begging them to drop their arms. The government had to go the extra-mile by appeasing them with huge funds and placating them with multi-billion naira contracts. Even the combined fire power of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, who have been there in the name of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), could not contain the rebellion. It was the perceived injustice in the region that created the ripe atmosphere for the confusion in the Niger Delta. Who says that the crisis in Plateau State cannot degenerate to that level? If the army and police are seen as biased instead of the buffer forces they are supposed to be, then churches and mosques would begin to train their members in the use of weapons of war, as a measure to protect and defend themselves. As for weapons, such a situation provides a market for local blacksmiths and Eastern European arms dealers, who would flood the state with all kinds of weapons of war. Don’t ask how they would come in, as Niger Delta warlords who consider it as a very irrelevant question.

As the Daily Trust recommended in its front page editorial last Tuesday, entitled “End this tit-for-tat madness,” the government should ensure that all those who were involved in the massacre are brought to book, both the massacre in January and the one of last Sunday. It will be the first step towards deterring those who would plot to do more damage to the psyche of the people of Plateau State. If there are top politicians or military officers involved, they should be punished. During the military, top generals who were involved in plotting coups were executed by their colleagues. If government has evidence that the top guns in Plateau State are involved in the mayhems, the authorities should not spare them. Enough is enough! Why should politicians be spilling the blood of innocent, poor peasants, and government continues to speak in tongues and look the other way because the sponsors of those bastardly acts are politicians or top generals in the army. This is unfair.

Acting President Jonathan should save his face by looking at the composition of the officers and men in the military formations in Plateau State. If the ratio is biased, then government has to intervene and make changes. If this is not done and reprisal killings re-occur in the state, the Acting President should have himself to blame.

Enough of bloodshed in Jos!

Omanibe wrote this piece from Abuja

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