Business activities have picked up and normalcy is gradually returning to the city of Jos, the Plateau State capital, following the multiple Christmas Eve explosions that shook the city and the reprisal hostilities that followed.
The streets of Jos which were totally deserted like a ghost town on Boxing Day, as a result of the escalation of violence in a response to the pre-Christmas bombing; is now booming with business activities and movement as residents of the metropolis could be seen going about their businesses in a lawful and peaceful manner.
The officials of the Special Task Force (STF), "Operation Safe Haven", could be seen at designated checkpoints all over the city doing a stop-and-search check on all motorists and cyclists plying the roads. Residents were seen complying with the directives of the STF officials.
LEADERSHIP observed that at Agwan Rukuba, one of the suburbs hit by the explosions, normalcy was gradually returning as shops were open for business and residents were seen going about without fear.
A resident of Agwan Rukuba, Julie Chung, told our correspondent that things were gradually becoming normal in the area.
"I thank God that the situation has been brought under control. Two days ago, this area was like a war zone; who would have thought today that I can move freely without fear in this area," she enthused.
Also at Gada Biyu, the second area hit by three explosions, a heavy presence of STF officials was seen around the area of the explosion to ensure law and order. Residents went about their normal businesses, and traders could be seen displaying their goods.
At the Jos main market, business activities were booming as traders and customers trooped into the market to buy and sell. Also, most shops along the Ahmadu Bello way were open for business.
However, LEADERSHIP observed that at most banks, long queues of customers could be seen at the ATM machines waiting patiently to make withdrawals.
Also in the Jos metropolis, most petrol stations were not open for business; resulting in the long queues present in a few filling stations that were selling the commodity.
Spokesman of the Special Taskforce, Capt. Charles Ekeocha, told LEADERSHIP in a telephone interview that normalcy had indeed returned to the city of Jos, saying, "no case of violence or hostility has been reported today in the city."
Meanwhile, following a manhunt by law enforcement agents for the perpetrators of the multiple bombings in Jos, the Special Task Force (STF) arrested three people with dynamites with the intention to bomb some strategic places in the city.
Parading the three suspects yesterday, the STF public relations officer, Captain Charles Ekeocha, said two of the suspects (names withheld) were arrested at Dogon-Karfe area of Jos city while trying to ignite a dynamite to bomb both residential and other business apartments within the vicinity.
According to him, the third suspect who is from Niger Republic was arrested at Dogon-Karfe with a sickle knife and a dagger found on him. Other items found on the other two suspects included seven unexpended live cartridges, two raps of Indian hemp, dynamite powder, N850.00 and a Nokia handset.
Captain Ekeocha who did not allow journalists to speak with the suspects said the three suspects would be handed over to the police for further investigations, and charged members of the public to regard members of the STF as partners in progress.
Chief of defence staff, AVM Oluseyi Petirin, visited all the areas rocked by last Friday's bomb blast with a promise to get to the root of the incident. He said the crisis in Jos will no longer be treated with kid gloves.
He made this known while addressing people at the spot of the incident at Gada-Biu area of Jos. He assured that perpetrators of the dastardly act would be tracked down.
The defence chief who was overwhelmed by the situation said he saw havoc unleashed to fellow Nigerians by the people.
"My visit today is not a happy one. I commiserate with you on behalf of the Armed Forces," he said.
According to him, government would fish out the perpetrators because "we cannot continue to allow evil minded people to move about freely.
"I want all of you to be patient with the law enforcement agencies and allow them to carry out a thorough investigations. I can assure you that positive results would come out of our investigation," he assured.
Meanwhile, 14 victims killed at the wake of fresh hostilities that broke out on Sunday morning, following the multiple explosions that hit some parts of Jos metropolis, were yesterday buried in a mass grave supervised by officials of Jama'atul Nasril Islam (JNI), Jos North Chapter at the Naraguta burial ground in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The mass burial which lasted for about two hours drew a large crowd of sympathizers who came to pay their last respects to the victims.
Speaking at the burial, officials of the JNI stated that the Sunday clash and violence that led to the demise of the 14 victims also left several wounded with various degrees of injuries, and that the casualties injured were presently receiving treatment at various hospitals in Jos.
The escalation of hostilities Sunday morning as a result of the pre-Christmas bombings in some parts of the Jos metropolis caused reprisal attacks and clashes in areas like Anguwar Rukuba, Gada Biyu, Rikkos, Dogon Karfe, Dutse Uku, Tina Junction, Anglo Jos and Anguwar Mai Damisa, and claimed several lives; however, no official death toll and casualties have been given at the time of filing this report.
United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned the attacks that broke out in parts of Nigeria on Christmas Eve and reportedly killed at least 30 people and injured more than 70 others.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon "condemns these deplorable acts of violence, especially at a time when millions of Nigerians are celebrating religious holidays, and supports efforts by the Nigerian authorities to bring those responsible to justice," his spokesperson said in a statement.
The secretary-general also conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Nigeria.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had recently called on Nigerian authorities to tackle the underlying causes of repeated outbreaks of ethnic and religious violence in Jos.
"Ethnic hatred must not be allowed to foment in Nigeria," said human rights expert, Anwar Kemal.
He urged the government of Nigeria "to take all the appropriate measures to immediately stop the ethnic violence, to protect the victims, and to avoid the repetition of such killings in the future."
Dr. Jean Ping, the African Union Commission chairperson on Sunday in Addis Ababa condemned Saturday's terrorists attacks in two states of Nigeria.
A statement issued by the Communication and Information unit of the AU Peace and Security Council said the chairperson was shocked and sad at the two incidents that occurred on the same day.
"The chairperson has learnt with shock and sadness of the string of bomb attacks that hit Jos, the North Central State and the attack on Churches in Maiduguri on Dececember 24, which resulted to the killing of 38 civilians while dozens were wounded", it stated.
Ping condemned in strongest terms "these cowardly terrorists attacks, which could not be justified under any circumstances".
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Plateau State chapter, has also strongly condemned the Jos attacks and commended the prompt intervention of the government and the security men for rising to the occasion.
It viewed the explosions as a dangerous dimension to the act of hostility that had been in vogue in the state capital for a while and called on both the state and the federal government to carry out proper investigations on the blast.
The council charged those in position of authority to stop paying lip service to the crisis which is gradually becoming a norm in the state, adding that the situation deserved drastic action with punitive measures on those found involved no matter who they were.
In a related development, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has also condemned in strong terms the recent attacks on innocent Nigerians, saying the attack was is a terror against humanity and against the right of the people to life, own property and engage in lawful economic activities in the state.
CLO, in a statement issue in Jos signed by its executive director, Steve Aluko, and made available to LEADERSHIP, said the multiple bomb blasts is the act of terror perpetrated in a systematic way to provoke another round of killings in the state.
Ulama Elders Council in a statement it issue and signed by the Sheikh Balarabe Dawud, chief imam of Jos, and Mohammed Lawal Ishaq, chairman and secretary respectively, decried the continued proliferation of illegal arms in Plateau State and the lack of adequate response from the appropriate quarters to deal with the situation, noting that these serious security challenges which required drastic measures were ignored.
According to the council of elders, stories of arrest of people with illegal arms abound but nothing is heard of what government has done with them, calling on the security agencies to do all things possible to protect the lives and property of citizen anywhere they found themselves.
In the same vein, the senator representing plateau north senatorial zone, senator Gyang Dantong described massive bomb explosion on Christmas eve as barbaric and satanic, regretting that the incident was coming at the time when the peace efforts of the federal government and other stakeholders have started yielding results in the state.
The lawmaker expressed dismay at the utterances of some politicians in recent time saying that they reflect the desperation and the quest for power at all means stressing that power comes from God.
He called on the youths in the state to distance themselves from those whose stock in trade is to cause confusion in order to attain power in the state.
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