Saturday, November 29, 2008

Violence in Jos...

The post-election violence in Jos seems to be spinning out of control, with at least 20 dead so far. Please spare a thought for Talatu-Carmen, the blogger, who is locked-down in the family compound with a hundred other people.

Zamani's farms deliveries to Abuja have been disrupted, as has all other business in Jos. See Norma's weekly email pasted below for a sense of what is going on:

Hello customers,

As you have probably heard, the situation in Jos is not at all good. Many people have been killed and houses destroyed in the aftermath of the local government elections that were held on Thursday. Two of our delivery staff -- Audu, our head driver, and Ado, our delivery assistant -- had their houses burnt down and lost all of their belongings. This afternoon I spent driving all around Jos looking for their families in some of the refugee camps set up around the town after people were evacuated from their area by the army. We finally found them, and brought them back to my compound. So we currently have about 25 refugees in the house. Our van, which came back with difficulty from Abuja today (the road was blocked for many house), is currently parked at a police station because it was impossible to drive it through parts of Jos to our house.

Moving around in Jos is not easy, and we are not sure when the situation will return to normal. Today we couldn't get to the farm (30km away from the house) because many of the roads were blocked and parts of Jos are under 24 hour curfew. Fortunately everything is normal at the farm and so far there have not been any incidents of violence in the rural areas around Jos. But it is impossible to get some items like onions and potatoes that we source locally because no one is coming in to Jos with these items. Everything in Jos -- shops, markets, banks, etc.-- are all closed and the city is virtually deserted. All the inhabitants are locked in their homes.

20:02 (GMT+1) - Associated Press (via the BNO Twitter feed) is now reporting that over 380 people have been killed in Jos. Funny how more people may have died in Jos in the past 2 days than in Bombay, but how it has scarcely registered with the global media corporations.


Anonymous,  7:40 pm  

how does the media come up with these figures of the dead? some shiek says 300 died and they take it as truth?

Kody 7:50 pm  

My friend's house in Jos was torched and three of his relatives lost their lives in the fire. This week has been one of the most depressing weeks ever.

temi,  10:30 pm  

the media says its xtians vs muslims .. however a naija journalist (via al jazeera) says its a case of hoodlums using the election results as a reason to cause mayhem ..
which is more accurate?? .. eactly why are they fighting .. and HOW do they come up with the number of dead people .. in a country that lacks reliable records???

Anonymous,  9:01 am  


The Hausa/Muslim community is wont to lay claim on Jos (North) as their patch, despite the fact that they are clearly 'settlers' and in the minority.

Most people think of Jos a 'noethern' (i.e. Hausa/Muslim) city. This could not be further from the truth.

The predominant population are the indegenous Berom.

The Muslims can't accept that a non-Muslim was about to win the election, so they fomented havoc to over-turn the results.

We are either running a democracy, which (sorry) is a game of numbers, or we are not.

The people of Jos will just need to all play by the rules.

I hope Gov Jang can get a handle on thjis problem. Dariye famously made a pigs ear of the situation and got himself into hot water, during OBJ's time.


ijebuman 12:50 pm  

"Funny how more people may have died in Jos in the past 2 days than in Bombay, but how it has scarcely registered with the global media corporations."

this is how it works..
Bombay, people mostly affected by bombings = a few Western tourists (Very Important News)

Jos, people affected by violence = Black Africans. (Irrelevant News, unless numbers rise significantly..)

Now if a few western tourists were trapped in Jos, then that changes the situation completely...

Kody 4:37 pm  

Of course you know the fact that white people died is not the only thing that has brought the Mumbai tragedy to the fore.

The Mumbai attacks consists of elements that by nature would grab the world's attention. Like 9-11, It is an act that is very much out of the ordinary; the meticulous planning, the indiscriminate violence, the human interest as the drama of each minute is covered in the media coupled with reports from people caught up in it, and also the different nationalities involved.

The last point is especially relevant as it automatically gave the event global interest. Put crudely, it basically plays out like a huge action movie that keeps you riveted. Not to say that it does for a second blind you to the violence and the tragic loss of lives.

With Jos, its Nigerians against Nigerians. It is not played out minute by minute in the media. It is the type of violence one has sadly become familiar anywhere in the world where radical opportunist find an excuse to perpetrate senseless acts in the name of religion.

No death is more important than the other. Innocent lives are lost and people who know them or can relate to their lives grieve.

What I find most distressing is that what has gone on and is going on in Jos is preventable. Our 'leaders', and especially our media, as usual are slow to react.

Why should the global media be responsible for reporting our news if our media does not place importance on it? We are the first to complain when they report only violence, famine and bad news, we are also the first to complain when they don't.

In short, we are just good at complaining.

Anengiyefa 6:21 pm  

"Funny how more people may have died in Jos in the past 2 days than in Bombay, but how it has scarcely registered with the global media corporations."

Well, over 1000 Haitians died in the the recent hurricane season and this too barely made the news, and certainly not with the same force as the Bombay incident. And even then, much of the focus was on the fate of Westerners in the country at the time.

Kody and Ijebuman are correct. That is the way it works. But with regard to Jos in particular, the attitude might be something like, "...tell me something I haven't heard before". Religious sectarian violence has occured several times in Nigeria and this is what Jos is being portrayed as in the international media, as between Christians and Muslims. That it is primarily post-election violence is not widely reported, but even if it was, I guess the feeling is that Nigerian lives are of less value that Western ones. That Al Quaeda might be involved in Bombay, also makes that a more newsworthy story.

Kody said "In short, we are just good at complaining."

@Kody, as you have just done in your comment..

Uwe Seibert 6:25 pm  

Actually the riots were on the news here in Germany, even at prime time. I sympathize with those who have lost their friends and property and hope the situation in Jos will improve soon

Loomnie 9:07 pm  

These are not religious conflicts, they are political conflicts that are "masqueraded" as religious conflicts. It is about the control of state spoils, not about faith or religion. I am sorry if I sound a bit pedantic, but we know too well how people often miss the bigger picture because explanations that are based on the mobilisation of primordial modes of association are often more exotic and so more appealing. Plus once it is labeled as religious there is a misplaced fixation....


Anonymous,  1:54 pm  

has the president even said anything? i know he spoke out about the indian thing

Anonymous,  10:16 pm  

First, The people who lost their homes are not refugees, as they are still in thier own country. This is important. It means no International assistance at all.
The news of JOS hit Canadian CBC here, as a 30 second piece. Just long enough to perpetuate "the ethnic/religious problem of Nigeria".
Take care every one. I think about Naija every day!

CodLiverOil 11:27 pm

The crisis that affected Jos in Plateau state, is a very sad situation which could have been avoided.

Once again, Nigerians have failed to deal with a core issue. The problem is finding a peaceful and enduring method to settle disputes. The method which is currently entrenched, is to unleash violence on your opponent or even worse on innocent people. Anyone, with a smattering of common-sense will tell you that is not the solution. Governor Jang is blaming the whole thing on mercenaries from Chad and Niger. He seems to be missing the point, if there was no reason for people to come from outside Nigeria to cause trouble, there wouldn't be any trouble.

This is not the first time this has occurred in Plateau state or even in Nigeria in general. Yet it is a recurrent phenomena. This will tell you that the current means addressing this menace is inadequate.

The current methods sending out the security forces after the violence has broken out, is lacking.

As with the child witches episode, drafting a bill or taking superficial measures in not enough (as pointed out by Anengiyefa), people will have to be re-educated. Similarly with the case of ethnic/ religious conflict over resources, re-education needs to be included as part of the solution.

A far more comprehensive package of measures will have to be used that reaches as many members of society as possible. This would include,
1) The use of religious clerics to minister to their flocks that their religions are religions of peace. (Although their influence is limited, people only tend to listen when they are encouraged to indulge in violence, or when they are running out of steam or the tide is turning against them). Still every option needs to be explored.
2) Spreading the message to parents and schools, that violence is not the answer.
3) Overhauling the judicial system so that it is seen to be impartial and quick.
4) Improving intelligence gathering and the creation of rapid reaction forces for each state.

Look at Rwanda, in the wake of the genocide that occurred there in 1994, the new government has taken steps to prevent a recurrence of such a horror. To date such an episode has not occurred since then. If Rwanda with it's relatively modest means can achieve that why can't Nigeria? Even Plateau state can't do it, why? Are Nigerians fools or something? I think not.

Another aspect that has to be looked at is to divorce revenue allocation from political power. The allocation of revenue should be done on the basis of need, or potential wealth creation. So that come election time, political opponents will not adopt an "all or nothing approach".

Society in general will have to take a far more proactive approach to politics.

"A young man who lived around Rikkos area lost his life when the Hausa community burnt his house.

When asked to leave his house as a crowd was gathering because of the local government elections, the young man asked why he should run when he was not a politician and had nothing to do with the election. The house was burnt by the assailants. His young wife and kids are now without a bread winner."

taken from

It is apparent that politicians can not be trusted to do the right thing. In the case of the Jos North election, they were hell bent at winning no matter what the cost or how many people died or were injured along the way, just as long as they and their followers could secure what they wanted. There has to be some sort of body, that vets politicians and monitors their conduct. If it appears that they will endanger the peace, or their follower are engaging in activities that create disharmony, then the full force of the law should be brought to bear on them.

This raises another question as to those in authority living up to their responsibilities. Governor Jang and the head(s) of the security apparatus should resign or even be brought before the law for failing to live up to their duty to protect the lives and property of the people of Jos North. What is the use of a governor or chief of police, when anarchy and social breakdown can happen at any time and can rage unchecked for lengthy periods of time?

It is not just Governor Jang, his predecessor Mr Dariye, who also allowed riots to occur within his jurisdiction, if that wasn't bad enough was caught with £1 million stuffed in his case on a trip to England. He has not faced any charges for abuse of authority, and is swanning around Plateau state like a model citizen. Failure to bring those in authority to account, does nothing to dissuade others from following suit. The people of Plateau state really have to ask themselves questions, as to why they have a history of electing such poor governors?

All those innocent people who were killed or had their lives turned upside down, what will become of them? No doubt they will survive, but this suffering and misery could be avoided if appropriate measures are adopted.

I felt very sorry the members of the NYSC (the youth corps) who were killed in Jos.

I think that they have been betrayed by the establishment of Nigeria. They have passed a law stating that all Nigerians should, serve their country for one year. The idea of this amongst other other things is to foster a sense of unity. These 3 individuals took them at their word and went to Plateau state to comply with the law and help build a better Nigeria and what was the result? They were massacred, if that isn't bad enough. Does anyone in the government care for the loss of these people? Will the families be compensated? Remember these people were not there for there own benefit, it was entirely selfless, they were complying with law. If the government doesn't give a shit, they should disband the NYSC, it is irresponsible to put people in harms way unecessarily. I was in favour the of NYSC concept, but if this is how the authorities take care of people, then they should scrap it, or else do something about the guaranteeing the lives and saftey NYSC members. If no action is taken, then not only the lives of the corpers were lost but the ideals of Nigeria will also have been lost.

The people of Plateau state and Nigeria in general will have to raise the bar, on the standard of leadership in place at all levels. Those who are failing to fulfill their duties should be swiftly removed, failure to do this will only see more episodes of this kind repeat itself throughout the country.

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