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Yes, Plateau was genocide

A day after, the crises moved from Jos town to the suburbs where it took the form of mass murder by the armies of young…

A day after, the crises moved from Jos town to the suburbs where it took the form of mass murder by the armies of young Berom boys and maybe girls against the settler Hausa/Fulani Muslim minority groups in several Berom villages and even beyond to Mangu and Pankshin areas of the state.

Of course, it has been a common trait of Plateau conflicts as were witnessed in the Shendam area and environs that whenever such hate occurred, ‘settlers’ in every village that are of the Islamic faith are butchered defencelessly and without any provocation. The last riot in Jos was equally executed by Berom youth, especially with series of mass murder in villages and settlements that were only initially exposed by international media outfits.

The restive Nigerian press shied away maybe because the victims were predominantly Muslim. This has been the trait of the press which is Lagos/Ibadan dominated. If it were Christians that were so brutally attacked and murdered in cold blood either in Kano, Sokoto or any Northern Nigerian city for that matter, the Nigerian press would have taken more proactive stances in reporting and exposing the crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately and in consonance with our moral decadence, we have lost the common humanity of self-assessment and self-judgment. We are unable to see ourselves as wrong when we are wrong. The difference between human beings and animals is now either very faint or functionally missing.

Reports have it that in just one village called Kuru Karama, not less than 150 people including men, women and children were brutally murdered and dumped in several wells. Reports equally have it that tens of other people mostly Hausa/Fulani or Muslims were murdered in cold blood in several Berom settlements.

I did not hear all those restive human rights groups raising issues on this crime against humanity, but I heard the NBA condemning a purported resolution by the Bauchi State House of Assembly expelling indigenes of Plateau State from the state on grounds that their safety cannot be guaranteed in the face of the onslaught of their kinsmen on a common enemy identified whose stock unfortunately constitutes well over 90% of the population of Bauchi State.

I didn’t hear NBA’s response to the mass murder in Berom villages committed under the guise of ‘liberation.’ Is the NBA a strictly Christian or Berom or Nigerian minority organisation? Why this blunder by a group that claims to have a high level of organisation and order? I am worried.

Since the horror became the knowledge of both the national and international communities, agitations have been ongoing to ensure that the governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, who has unfortunately assumed the status of the butcher of Jos, is arraigned before the International War Crime Tribunal on charges of genocide and crime against humanity. If what happened in these villages did not amount to genocide and crime against humanity, then I need someone to educate me more on what happened in the villages around Jos.

I treated the agitation to sign the petition against Jonah Jang with apathy until it became very clear to me on Monday after reading a letter written by Timawus Mathias in the Trust regretting that even the good old ‘Bus Stop’ was amongst the hundreds killed in Kuru Karama. One needs to know what ‘Bus Stop’ was to understand how low, cruel and inhuman those who killed him were.

‘Bus Stop’ as this man was fondly called apart from other things suffered from some polio challenges and thus couldn’t walk normally. He truly was more like a jester who was always playing the protocol officer at the restaurant in Fire Brigade, Bukuru in the outskirts of Jos. I understand that ‘Bus Stop’ hailed from Kano State, but came to Heipang and lived there in the late 1970s when the new airport was built.

‘Bus Stop’ had almost naturalised and was more Berom than a lot of Beroms. He made friends and lived as a member of the extended family of the Plateau. Little did he know that he would one day be axed down along with his family members by people he fought so desperately to acculturate and live with.

If there is anyone that can be defined as harmless, then ‘Bus Stop’ certainly was one. The moment I read that ‘Bus Stop’ was one of those murdered, I came to the conclusion that, definitely, if enemies were those killed by the combatants, one man just like hundreds of others was wrongly made one of the victims.

The premeditated murder of ‘Bus Stop’ has more than anything else convinced me that what happened on the Plateau was nothing less than genocide and must be seen and treated as such. It is unfortunate that in a nation and section where the literacy level is high, though in the midst of poverty, people could turn out to be so cruel.

Sometimes, poverty and ignorance are not necessarily the reasons why humanity should lose its value and turn barbaric. We have seen relative peace in areas of extreme poverty and pool of ignorance. In several parts of sub-Saharan Africa, we have seen the worst cases of backwardness but with minimal violence like the one we intermittently experience in Nigeria.

The incidence in the suburbs of Jos was genocide and some people must be held accountable. We cannot afford to run away from holding those who control state power responsible for that onslaught on innocent Nigerian citizens even if they are not indigenes, but lived in Plateau State.

Why in my view people are resorting to the international criminal court option is mainly because the government at home has lost control of the situation. It will appear that people have lost hope and faith in the capacity of even the Federal Government which supervises every nook and cranny of this country to administer justice, law and order. The essence of statehood is lost, because people can descend on others, kill, murder and do whatever and still go scot-free.

We have seen that several times in Nigeria and nothing was done. So the easiest means of settling even simple disputes is now through the use of machetes, axes, Dane and sophisticated guns. After the deed is done, nobody is called to account for his action.

A very unfortunate and pathetic situation we are in in Nigeria today. My friend from Delta State who I’ve known and lived together with since childhood and went to school with in Zaria and who’s still living in Kaduna sent me an SMS message during the Jos crisis to wonder whether he would in the nearest future not require visa before he sees me. His deduction is a follow-up of an earlier prediction by the United States intelligence community that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015.

Another intelligence opinion which suggests that if care is not taken, by the same 2015, Northern Nigeria would be more volatile if not worse than Western Pakistan. Now, all these postulations are not baseless. The failure of governance may eventually lead to this. If people can wake up for the sake of simple resolvable argument, take up arms and massacre others just because they are in the majority in a particular area or because they decide to stand history on its head, and those who are in charge of state security either support such barbarism or do nothing about it, then be sure that the American intelligence prediction may eventually come to pass. God forbid.

Now that ‘Bus Stop’ has been murdered in cold blood by the people he loved to live with, those who murdered he and hundreds of other children and women not in the battle front but assembled like herds of sheep, starved, killed, mutilated and burnt down have done their worst. This must not be supported by any human being.

We must rise to the occasion and hold those who are responsible for this accountable, so that the blood of all those murdered may water the seeds of national unity and harmony. I will not support anybody no matter how close I am to them who can descend so low. We need to be convinced that what happened in Berom area of the Plateau was not genocide.

All well-meaning Nigerians must hold Jonah David Jang responsible for this crime against humanity if Nigeria is to know peace. May God forgive the souls of good old ‘Bus Stop’ and all those who were innocently caught by the weapon of the murders on the Plateau. We must do the right thing if we are to see the light.

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