LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS JOS, NIGERIA

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

press release


Sir,

15th March 2010

PRESS RELEASE

The civil society organizations on the Plateau wish to utterly condemn the wanton destruction of lives and property in a recent crisis that re-erupted in some parts of Jos and its environs. The fact that the crises re-erupted when the people of the state were just about getting over a similar crisis which claimed lots of lives and properties around a year ago is most regrettable, considering the investment of Non Governmental Organization (NGO), government and other stakeholders in peace building and conflict resolution.

It is imperative despite our numerous press releases and interviews to call for this press dialogue so as to draw your attention to some alarmingly dangerous precedence that could be inimical to the efforts being made to find a lasting solution to the recurrence of crisis in Jos.

For quite sometime, falsehood and sentiments have been allowed to thrive and that has always stood in the way of genuine and lasting resolution of the problem in Jos. In the face of concrete reality, rumours are being peddled and unfortunately accepted as the truth and are made the foundations for peace building process. Sentiments have also gain currency and have overridden good reasoning in the quest to restore peace in Nigeria and Plateau in particular. If we continue to make these- twin evil our bed rock for lasting peace, it is safe to infer that the end of the crisis in Jos is no where in sight. We have to call a spade a spade and be hugely prudent with sentiments.

Having critically analyzed the crisis, we wish to state our positions as follows:

Residents of Plateau

It is increasingly becoming more dangerous for Nigerians to reside in most northern part of the country and a pass time for some Nigerians in the North to kill and destroy at will. Such individuals erroneously believe they have a licence to kill, inflict harm and burn and destroy other people’s property. To them, the laws of the land make no sense and they are untouchable. At the slightest provocation, or even unprovoked, they unleash terror on fellow citizens. Shortly before the New Year it was Bauchi state and eight days back it was Plateau state.

We note with regret, the growing intolerance of residents of the state who now, unfortunately, see violence as only means of resolving conflicts. It is our belief that the disagreement which escalated into this violence could have been resolved otherwise if the parties had not taken laws into their hands. A situation where people with little or no provocation embark on massive destruction of lives and properties creates a dangerous trend which must quickly be addressed by all authorities concerned.

National Advisory Council: Dr. Bala Takaya, Prof. Sam Egwu. Trustees: Hauwa Shekarau, Rev. Mathias Ndian, Dr. Ayodele Jegede.

Christine Olaniyan, Director: Shamaki Gad Peter


State and federal governments

While we commend the efforts of governments both at state and federal levels in ensuring peace returned to Plateau State, we wish to observe the following:

  • That the trivialities accorded the issue of security of lives and property by government especially the nonchalant treatment of early warnings, deployment of security personnel during crises and procedures has become a cause of concern for us.
  • That the steps taken by both the state and federal governments on previous crisis leaves much to be pondered as to whether there is any synergy between both levels of government to tackle the security problem in the state.
  • That the inability of both governments to bring to book those arrested in relation to previous crises has left an impression that governments condone such heinous crime against the state and humanity.
  • That the inability of past and present governments to publish and implement reports of previous commissions of inquiry on Jos crisis shows governments weak political will to tackle the issue of Jos crisis.

Media

We wish to condemn the biased reportage of the crisis by local and foreign media who for selfish interest peddled falsehood that created a lot of tension within and outside the state.

Security Personnel

We wish to commend the efforts of the immediate past commissioner of police who was brave enough to give face to the faceless hoodlums and equally commend other security personnel in the state in quelling the violent crisis. We however, have the following observations:

  • That the inability of the security apparatus in the state to act on intelligence report, early warnings and rumours on the likely re-occurrence of Jos crisis left much to be desired.
  • That the refusal of security personnel who were present at the time the crisis started to nip it in the bud on the excuse that they had no order to act allowed the full escalation of the crisis.
  • That the various incidence of side-taking, bias and favouritism, harassment and abuse of the fundamental human rights of citizens have eroded the confidence the people have in the Nigerian Army to protect their lives and property (there were many reports of solders aiding and abetting the burning of property by some people).
  • That the removal of the immediate past commissioner of police Greg Ayanting was done in bad faith and could discourage other officers in doing their work creditably.
  • That the purported take-over of the security of Plateau State by the Army as announced by the GOC 3rd Armoured Division Rukuba Barracks is unconstitutional and tantamount to a coup-d’etat. For the avoidance of doubt, section 217 (2)(c) quoted by the GOC as the basis for his declaration does not in any way contemplate the taking over of the security of a state by the Army, it only allows the Army to act “in aid of civil authorities” and not ‘take over’. To say the least, the statement is an affront on democracy in Plateau State.

Recommendations

Therefore recommend the following

1. Speedy prosecution and punishment of all those arrested in connection with the January 17 crisis in Plateau State to serve as deterrent to others that government will no longer condone senseless destruction of lives and property in Plateau State or anywhere in Nigeria.

2. Government should immediately release and implement reports of previous commissions of inquiry into the Jos crisis.

3. Redeployment of the present GOC to restore the confidence of the residents of state in the military in the state.

4. There should be a joint task force to take charge of the security and not the military exclusively.

5. Distribution of relief materials should be equitable and fair; NEMA and SEMA should work together and also involve the CSO.

6. The Ban on the commercial motor cycle riders and sell of (fuel in Jerry cans) should be fully implemented and sustained, however the state government should make concerted effort to ensure adequate supply of fuel at the petrol stations and should equally provide alternative means of transportation.

7. We call on the inspector general of police and the federal government to transfer the culprits that were apprehended during the November 2008 and January 2010 crisis back to Jos for prosecution.

8. The posting of military personnel should be critically looked into so as to avoid biased treatment.

9. The military trucks used in conveying groups of people in crisis situation should be done equitably

Shamaki Gad Peter

Director

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