From Isa Abdulsalami, Alifa Daniel, Lemmy Ughegbe, Kelvin Ebiri, Inem Akpan-Nsoh and Francis Obinor:

*  Govt vows to arrest culprits
* Senate brands killing terrorism
* Britain, Vatican condemn mayhem
* PFN seeks arms mop-up from fanatics

BUSINESS and social activities were yesterday brought to a standstill in Jos, the Plateau State capital, as offices and shops were hurriedly shut over fears of another round of violence.

Weary residents fled suspected flash-points in the metropolis. The police quickly deployed armed officers to the spots and assured residents that there was no further threat to law and order in the state.

But the residents were not swayed as they kept off the roads, markets, offices and other commercial places.

The Executive and Legislative arms of the Federal Government, which deplored the crisis, ordered the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of last Sunday killing of about 200 persons in some communities in the state.

An angry Senate described the attack as an act of terrorism that must not be condoned. It asked the security agencies to rise to the challenge by bringing the killers of defenceless Nigerians in Plateau to book.

The Executive arm, which said the violence was one incident too many, declared that it would go after the suspects and bring the full weight of the law to bear on them to protect defenceless Nigerians.

Similarly, security personnel linked with cases of torture and extra-judicial killing across the country are to be investigated by the government and those indicted prosecuted in the law court.

The tension in Jos and Bukuru metropolis peaked in the afternoon when people started running helter-skelter over reports that armed youths had invaded the two towns.

It later turned out to be a mild demonstration by the youths in Bukuru and parts of Barkin-Ladi over the killing of their kinsmen in Dogon-Nahawa, Jos and Ransat on Sunday morning by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

As the demonstration went on, security personnel were drafted to the scene where commotion ensued between the operatives and the youths.

The stampede that resulted led to the desertion of Jos and Bukuru.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mohammed Lerama, who confirmed the stampede, said it arose from the Sunday attacks on Dogon-Nahawa village where hundreds of people were killed.

“Immediately this strange movement happened, we deployed more armed policemen to patrol all the streets of Jos and its environs. That is why the situation is now returning to normalcy.”

A statement yesterday prepared by the Commissioner of Police, Mr, Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba, could not be read to journalists because he was summoned to Abuja yesterday.

The statement said that the information received from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Anglo-Jos on Sunday revealed that a group of Fulani invaded Dogon-Nahawa and other nearby villages maiming and killing innocent men, women and children, naming the villages as Zon and Ransat.

Lerama said: “So far, the casualty figures reported are about 55. A combined team of mobile policemen and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) were drafted to the area around 4.00 p.m. to maintain law and order.

“From evidence so far gathered, this is a reprisal attack and a fall-out of the incident of January 17, 2010 where some Fulani were killed with their cattle at Vom, Tim-Tim, Kujenta, Barikin-Ladi and other villages,” Lerama said.

The statement disclosed that two categories of arrest were made, the first comprises Fulani who were arrested after the Sunday incident with daggers and knives at Angware village in Jos East Local Council.

On interrogation, Lerama said they claimed that they were on revenge mission. Four Fulani were shot dead at Barikin Ladi by the joint patrol team.

According to the statement, the second category comprised 74 persons from Mangu village, who were arrested with prohibited firearms by the joint patrol team after a hot exchange of fire.

The statement further said that the attackers were from Fuburu village in Jos East Local Council, which shares a boundary with Bauchi State.

During the commotion that ensued during the demonstration between the youths in Bukuru and the soldiers, one Dunk Sambo was shot dead. The youths thereafter called for the removal of the soldiers and the curfew imposed on the area. The Federal Government, which declared the frequent killing of Nigerians and the violation of their rights under whatever guise as unacceptable yesterday, said life is sacred and no responsible government would tolerate such unprovoked attack on unarmed citizens.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), who hinted of the government’s resolve to prosecute the masterminds of the latest Plateau crisis in his office during the presentation of the Draft National Policy on Torture, further said the present administration was disturbed by allegations of torture and extra-judicial killings by some security personnel.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria is not insensitive to allegations of torture and extra-judicial killings by a few officers of our security agencies. That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to investigate and where necessary punish perpetrators,” Kayode said.

In a reaction to the latest killings, the Senate through its spokesman, Ayogu Eze, said: “The Senate as an institution cannot reconcile this latest mayhem where armed men invaded harmless communities in the wee hours and opened fire on defenceless civilians. We cannot understand this at a time efforts are being made to find a solution to the previous crisis. As in the previous case, we condemn these acts of terrorism on the Plateau in no unmistakable terms.

“All the security operatives should by now be challenged and should urgently deploy their expertise to bring this to a halt. Their efforts would have been in vain if the perpetrators are not unmasked and brought to judgment.

“The Senate and indeed the Federal Government can no longer tolerate this lawlessness and continued terrorism in Nigeria. “At a time efforts are being made to restore our nation’s battered image, some miscreants, disgruntled and misguided people are dragging the hand of the clock backwards.

“We condemn this yet another eruption of crisis and demand that the security operatives fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity, no matter whose ox is gored.”

He said government remained “committed to achieving the spirit and purpose of the Convention Against Torture and its optional protocol,” which it demonstrated through the establishment of the National Committee on Torture as a “national mechanism to investigate allegations of torture, extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings.”

He said the National Committee on Torture had been charged to swiftly investigate reports of unlawful killings and torture across the country with a view to fishing out culprits and prosecuting them. “I have already clarified the terms of reference of the National Committee on Torture and I have asked that the committee immediately puts administrative and logistic measures in place to enable it begin to receive and investigate communications from Nigerians on cases of torture and extra-judicial executions”, he stated.

“For emphasis, the committee will investigate reports from the National Human Rights Commission and local and international human rights groups. The documentary of Al-Jazeera and the reports of Amnesty International are relevant materials in this regards”, he added.

The chief law officer also observed that some of the recourse to jungle justice could be traced to a “deficit of trust in our criminal justice system,” but warned that “the solution to these concerns cannot lie in the use of extra-judicial means because we are a country of laws.”

Presenting the draft policy to the minister, the committee’s chairman, Dr. Samson Sani Ameh (SAN), said “the problem of torture cannot be addressed by mere enforcement alone. Education and enlightenment are necessary.”

Also yesterday, eminent Nigerians met in Jos to find lasting solutions to the incessant crisis in Jos and its environs under the auspices of the Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR) in collaboration with the British Department for International Development (BDID) and the state government.

The theme of the one-day conference was “Peace in Jos: Arresting the cycle of violence” under the chairmanship of former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

The participants included Second Republic President Shehu Shagari, Head of the defunct Interim National Government (ING), Chief Ernest Shonekan, pioneer Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Lar, Ambassador Bagudu Hirse, the Gbon Gwom Jos, Jacob Gyang Buba, Nasarawa State Deputy Governor Michael Abdul and IGSR President, Prof. Isawa Eliagwu.

Britain and the Vatican have also deplored the heinous killings of hundreds of Christians in Jos.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bob Dewar, in a statement yesterday, condemned the violence and sent his condolences to the affected communities.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Catholic Church felt “sad and concerned” at what he called the “horrible acts of violence.”

“I would like to express my condemnation of the killings that took place in Plateau State on Sunday. My condolences go out to the families of all those who were injured or murdered. I have today (yesterday) raised our concerns at senior levels with the Nigerian authorities and welcome their commitment to do everything possible to calm the situation, prevent any escalation in violence and to bring to justice those involved in violence. We continue to urge all parties to seek peaceful means to resolve their differences, including through inter-faith dialogue.”

Meanwhile, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Akwa Ibom State, Bishop Cletus Bassey, has asked the government to take a holistic look at reports on previous religious crises and act on them.

While condemning the resurgence of the Sunday crisis in Jos, CAN warned that adequate attention be given to the matter before Christians are pushed to the wall.

He told journalists in Uyo yesterday that Nigeria was not an Islamic state and wondered why some Islamic fundamentalists would want to exterminate Christians in the North.

Also, the National Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (Youth Wing), Dr. Abel Damina, has urged the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Muslim fundamentalists as a way of retrieving the guns in their possession and stop the incessant carnage in Plateau and other states in the North.

In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday, he described the weekend killings and destructions in Plateau as unwarranted and another show of the resolve of fundamentalists to cause religious disharmony in the country.

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