Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jos death toll hits 40

The death toll in the crisis that hit Jos, Plateau State last Sunday, has risen to 40. This is as Muslim community in the city said it lost 16 of its members in the riot.

Also the Red Cross confirmed that about 4,000 refugees are now scattered in three refuge camps in the city.

According to a statement by M. S. Mudi on behalf of Jos North Muslim Ummah, over 150 women and children are now in the central mosque taking refuge, with another 35 receiving treatment, as a result of the attack by some youths.

Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the clashes which claimed several lives and property.

The forum in a text message by its national publicity secretary, Mr. Anthony N.Z. Sani said the renewed clash in Jos was senseless and asked government at all levels to formulate policies that will engage the youths in productive ventures.

It said violence of whatever form was not acceptable to God and Nigerians, pointing out that religious, political and community leaders must wake up and inspire cultural renaissance which should be based on core values of humanity.

The text message read: "Following yet another report of violent clashes in the precinct of Nasarawa Gwom of Jos town in Plateau state, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) wishes to say enough of senseless violence leading top loss of lives.

"This is because violence, be it political, religious or ethnic differences are not acceptable to God or Allah as well as the peace loving people of Nigeria and to the atmosphere needed for socio-economic development. Surely, no society can thrive on the basis of its factions but by tolerant accommodation of one another.

"Religious, political and community leaders must brace up and inspire cultural renaissance by working hard to overcome differences that divide the people and this should be based on core values of humanity.

"Our leaders must also think and work harder in order to come up with policies and programmes that would preoccupy our youths in productive ventures.

"ACF commends the security agents and the Plateau state government for bringing the situation under immediate effective control. The government should also go further and investigate the incidences with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.

"ACF also commiserates with those innocent people who lost lives and properties in the course of the violent clashes. May God provide them with the fortitude to endure the losses and means for replacement", he said.

Meanwhile, commercial activities were paralyzed in the early hours of Monday, with corporate bodies like banks shutting their doors to customers, because of growing tension which enveloped the city centre.

The Red Cross officials said they are in dire need of relief materials and vehicles to cater for the 4,000 refugees now taken refuge at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) regional academy in Jos.

The NDLEA Commander in Plateau, Mr. Ralph Igwe, said in Jos on Monday that many of the victims complained that their houses had been burnt.

"Those whose houses were not burnt are afraid of molestation by hoodlums. They are feeding themselves. We are constrained by the lack of fund to provide their immediate needs, because we didn't anticipate the crisis," he added.

Igwe said there might be food crisis in the camp, except normalcy returned, noting that the displaced persons had exhausted their foods.

He said the state government's delegation and officials of the Red Cross Society had visited the camp, but had yet to supply any relief materials.

"Many of the children, who slept outside yesterday in the cold, were coughing this morning," he added, and called for humanitarian assistance from well-meaning organisations.

Most of the affected persons alleged that those who attacked them in the Rikkos area of the city, were people they had lived peacefully with for several years.

They appealed for the supply of water and food items by well meaning Nigerians and organisations.

Muslim youths who stormed a church at Nassarawa Gwong Jos said the attacks by the Muslim youths are with out provocation.

They said it was "unfortunate that this hasty remark is coming from a very highly placed security personnel who is supposed to be the custodian of peace in the society who openly shows his bias against the Muslim Ummah when investigation had not commenced to ascertain what actually happen".

The statement said the hasty conclusion was nothing but an open instigation for reprisal attacks on the Muslims by the Christian pointing out that the Muslim Ummah has lost confidence of getting any protection of lives and their properties from the plateau state command under the leadership of the current commissioner of police in the state.

Also speaking, the man who was in the centre of the storm, Kabiru Mohammed said his house was burnt down in 2008 which necessitated it renovation.

He said he brought labourers to the site to effect the renovation and when work commenced on the site, some Christian youth stormed the site to prevent the labourers from working saying the area is mainly for Christian.

He said some people who call themselves indigene said he should be stopped from working on the site which prompted him to report the matter to some soldiers in the area.

He said when this was going on, one of the youths ran from the scene and went to mobilize others to the scene telling them that some Hausa youth beat him to a stage of comma and before he could say Jack Robbin the whole community invaded the site and problem started.

Mohammed added that the soldiers were pleading to the youth to be patient so that it could be sorted out but the youth insisted and there were stoning people in the area, all of a sudden we were told that they are fighting around Baptist that is all I know.

Similar, the Chief Immam of the Jos central Mosque Sheikh Balarabe Dawoud has appeal to politicians, religious and community leaders to caution their followers not to foment trouble in the state.

He also urged the youths to be patient with one another adding that no one should burn people's house or attack people on the street saying they should stop peddling unnecessary rumour which will also fuel the crises in the state.

Daily Champion

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