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Jos Crisis: Will the Hausa/Fulani accept Ajibola’s report?

However, one major headache that the committee had had to deal with that may eventually cast doubts on its sincerity to produce an unbiased report…

However, one major headache that the committee had had to deal with that may eventually cast doubts on its sincerity to produce an unbiased report is the non-appearance of the Hausa/Fulani and the Muslims community before the panel, and their refusal to give written or oral testimony.  

The Hausa/Fulani community and the Jos Muslim Ummah had rejected the composition of the panel by the state government, vowing not to make any representation to the panel because they saw the commission as being incapable of delivering justice to the parties to the Jos crisis. They also alleged that after the panel may have concluded its job and submitted its report to the state government, the governor can still decide to accept or reject the recommendations of the commission.

On the other hand, Christian and other ethnic communities in the state like the Berom, Afizere and Anaguta believe that the right place to get justice was the Ajibola panel.

To avert a situation where the panel is boxed into a corner and is compelled to produce a one-sided report, the panel decided to invite 110 Hausa/Fulani, organizations and other stakeholders to appear or submit memorandums for consideration between July 20 and July 31, 2009, as the commission prepares to wind up its investigations in August. Similarly, the commission voluntarily decided to drop some of the powers vested on it by the Plateau State government in a move to convince the Hausa/Fulani to make representations to the commission. Prince Ajibola told journalists that the commission opted to drop its powers to issue warrants of imprisonment on persons found guilty in its investigations and instead chose to remain a fact finding body constituted to unravel the cause(s) of the crisis. He pledged to be fair and just to parties to the conflict and ensure that justice is not only done but is seen to have been done.     

Before these moves by the Ajibola panel, the question that had agitated the minds of observers of the panel’s activities has being how the commission will successfully identify the real causes of the Jos violence and be able to make fair recommendations to the state government that will help avert future incidents without hearing from all parties to the crisis.    

According to Prince Ajibola, the commission has so far received 217 memos out of which 117 have been treated just as members of the commission visited the places where there was massive destruction of properties and houses.   

Before the commission commenced its public hearings, the Hausa/Fulani community had filed separate cases at the Plateau State High Court and the Federal High Court, Jos to stop the commission from sitting. In the two cases filed by the Hausa/Fulani community, the plaintiffs asserted that Governor Jang gave the shoot on sight order which led to the killing of over 500 Muslims during the crisis. They also accused the chairman of the commission of taking sides with the state government, based on an interview published in a national daily where he was quoted as saying “Yar’adua has no right to set up a commission of inquiry as only Governor Jang has the constitutional right to set up the commission since it’s within his jurisdiction.”  

In the view of the secretary -general of the youth wing of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Jos North local government chapter, Ahmed Garba, Governor Jang lost the moral right to set up the commission because he became a party to the crises when he jumped to the conclusion of accusing Muslims of instigating the crisis.     

“We went to court to stop the commission from further sitting. Instead of the commission to stop its public hearings until after the court judgment, they went ahead and continued with their effort to succeed in portraying the Hausa/Fulani as the people that caused the crises.

“The major obstacle to the report of the commission now is that their report will be one-sided because they did not convince the Muslim community and the Hausa/Fulani to give their own side of the story,” Garba said.   

But, lead counsel to the commission, Charles Obishai told Sunday Trust that some of the documents and memorandums they received from the public directly or indirectly cover  the interests of the Hausa/Fulani community,   

“When you see or read them you will understand that these people, like Nakande, Sama’ila are speaking the voice of the Hausa/Fulani community. So if we look at it from there we may distill some materials that may cover the interests of the Hausa/Fulani.  

“I have read some of the materials; some are really speaking for the Hausas. There are a lot of newspaper publications where some prominent Hausa citizens granted interviews to the press. We are going to look at what they said because they were making their positions known to the rest part of the world. So if the materials distilled from all these exhibits cover the benefit of hearing from them correctly, they still have the right to come before the commission,” he added.