By Seriki Adinoyi
Two days after a bomb attack on a church and reprisal killings, Jos, the Plateau State capital, was again shut down by rage and violence early Tuesday morning as Hausa Muslims and Igbo traders were locked in a showdown at Old Bukuru Park.
Also, the students of the University of Jos barricaded the Bauchi road and Faringada highway protesting the stabbing of two of their colleagues along Bauchi road on Monday night.
With the ensuing violence, shops, banks, primary and secondary schools in the metropolis were shut down, with parents rushing to pick their wards from schools, thereby crippling commercial and other activities in the state capital.
The streets were immediately deserted as everyone hurried home.
THISDAY gathered that a corpse of an Okada rider believed to be a Hausa boy was recovered and brought to his house at Massalaci Jumat area.
This triggered anger among the Hausa community who mobilised and pounced on the Igbo traders that were in their shops.
The traders first retreated and then re-grouped and returned to attack the Hausa. It became a free-for-all with dangerous weapons flying in the air.
It took the intervention of the military men and riot policemen, who used tear gas and shot into the air to bring the situation under control.
Meanwhile, military helicopters were hovering over the city, while armoured tanks and military vans were on patrol across the streets.
The state command of the Nigeria Police summoned an emergency meeting of all security chiefs in the state, government officials, and Muslim and Christian leaders to discuss how to bring the escalating violence under control.
At the meeting, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Diipo Ayeni, warned youths that his men would no longer tolerate assaults from them like they did after the Sunday blast, saying “we were prevented, molested and harassed, including some military men that went with us”.
He warned the youths to be wary of any action that could snowball into religious war, adding that “no nation ever survived religious war in the past. So don’t even let it start please”.
He said that Boko Haram “is a national problem; there is no need localising it. Boko Haram are not the people on the Plateau, they are neither Christians nor Muslims; they come from outside to harass everyone; Christians and Muslims alike. So let us not localise the problem and turn it to a religious one”.
Giving security tips to the people, the police boss advised citizens to desist from crowding around scenes of bomb blasts since there might still be other explosives that might not have detonated.
“By the time second one detonates it will cause more havoc to the crowd,” he warned.
He advised religious leaders to instruct their security operatives to always do proper screening of members, visitors and security personnel and their vehicles before they are allowed into church premises, adding that all minor roads leading to worship centres must be blocked on worship day to prevent cars from getting close to the church building.
The police boss also expressed regret that some of these bombers now disguise in army and police uniforms, warning that “that is the reason everyone including security personnel sent to guard worship centres must be subjected to thorough search”.
Tuesday, the Plateau State government criticised the manner security operatives handled the recent attacks on churches by suicide bombers, alleging laxity on the part of the security agencies.
Rising from an emergency meeting, the state declared that the office of the Chief of Defence Staff charged by the Presidency with the responsibility to take over security on the Plateau following the declaration of State of Emergency had not helped matters.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Abraham Yiljab, who briefed journalists after the meeting presided over by Governor Jonah Jang, challenged the security outfits to be “more proactive”.
“One keeps feeling that the state of emergency declared on the state by the Federal Government has not yielded results,” he stated.
Yiljap said that the council frowned on the inability of military Special Task Force (STF) to maintain security in the state, and check cases of incessant attacks so as not to truncate the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.
He said: “Concerning the management of the security situation in the state as well as management of security information, the office of the Chief of Defence Staff has been fully empowered by the President of Nigeria to be in charge of security in Plateau State.
“The Chief of Defence Staff has delegated that responsibility to the STF that is on ground. Every security operation in Plateau State is being guided and coordinated by the STF.
“And what the people of Plateau are saying is that the STF must give results; that there should be no silence, that there should be no reason for continued attacks anymore.”
The council commiserated with the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) and St. Finbarr’s Catholic Churche as well as victims of the suicide bomb attacks, and assured all that government was committed to restoring peace in the state.
“We expect the Defence Headquarters to be a father to all sides just as the Plateau government is a father to all sides.
The Defence Headquarters should not have drawn itself into an argument with the victims. It should not have joined issues with the COCIN leadership.
“One would have expected the DHQ to say that all issues were being investigated when a controversy arose over those that were killed rather than make the victims look like the liar at the end of the day.
“The state of emergency should result in feasible improvements in the security situation in Plateau State. The people are not keeping quiet at this. They are expecting that with the repositioning of the STF, the security situation should improve remarkably,” he said.
The council also flayed soldiers’ shooting at citizens who were protesting the Sunday’s suicide attack on St. Finbar’s Catholic Church.
It, however, appealed to members of the public to cooperate and work closely with the security forces.
“The Security Council is saying that we should not have a situation where security forces that are meant to protect the citizens are now standing in confrontation with the citizens that they are supposed to protect.
“Council has directed that security forces must be proactive in maintaining their presence in those difficult areas so that their presence would deter those that are trying to carry out harmful actions against the people,” he added.
The commissioner also cautioned the media against alleged sensationalising the suicide attack by the constant reference to “reprisal attacks phenomenon rather than the bomb itself”.
“The council found it objectionable that certain media reports appeared not to look at the victims of the suicide attacks but to start talking about reprisals forgetting what the main issue is,” he said.
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