Home Features and Interviews The Jos crisis again! By Jonathan Ishaku

The Jos crisis again! By Jonathan Ishaku


In the month marking the 17th anniversary of the 2001 Jos crisis, the city was again gripped in an orgy of bloody violence in its last days leading up to the month of October. As I write the city still writhes in pains and uncertainty. A tragedy of enormous proportion, a colossal setback to a government that pinges its raison d’etre on Return Of peace and a disappointment to the people themselves who had hoped that the city had seen and overcome its worst.
Two developments seem to have obscured the gravity of this latest round of blood shedding.
The first is the ongoing party primaries which continues a pace as if all is well. Even the authorities whose reflex action to urban violence is the imposition of curfew have had to tamper with it this time around to allow for scheduled party primaries.I think from now the state government will have to come up with another reason for further postponing local government elections in the four LGAs excluded for reasons of insecurity. If they can hold primaries peacefully, then why not LG election?
Secondly, the recovery of a vehicle belonging to a missing Army General has also caused a distraction. I have just read a highly incendiary press release issued by an organization calling itself MURIC and signed by one Prof.Ishaq Akintola, I am yet to decipher how a “missing person” can be pronounced dead without finding his body. Be as it may, the entire purpose of the various conspiracy theories already woven around this case is pretty obvious. I think the enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari are deliberately pushing him into an infamy to commit genocide. The Odi/Zaki Biam option being mischievously waved before him can only get a seat at the International Criminal Court, at the Hague, this time as a disgraced “accused.” The General Alkali story is too complex to give it the simplistic ethnic and religious frame people like Prof. Ishaq are trying to do. Again, it is amusing to see the play of hypocrisy in Nigeria: the same people who denounce the media usage of “Fulani herdsmen ” are the ones now using ‘Berom Christian terrorists “.
I think the investigation of the case of the missing General should procede with an open mind. But as I said these events diverted attention from the current crisis. MURIC seems to conflate the latter with the ongoing violence. Nothing is farther from the truth.
The immediate trigger of the present violence was the killing of 14 people along Rukuba Road by the so-called herdsmen. Once again the handling of the situation was lackluster leading to a demonstration that turned violent. As usual the panicky resort to curfew solved nothing, probably it only gave opportunity to miscreants and terrorists to regroup as we saw the next day when they laid siege on the nearby University of Jos students. From there it spread to other parts of Jos North.
The latest bout of violence was very revealing in many aspects.
From the perspective of counter terrorism, the following are very clear:
1. The roadblocks that have been mounted all over the city are useless. Their interdictory capacity is questionable unless their objective is to cause public inconvenience or give false assurance of security presence.
2. From eye witness reports, it is also clear that the non-state armed groups, whether as terrorists or mere orchestrated urban rioters, are well prepared, showing clear evidence of training in the pattern of maneuver, the use of uniforms and masks, and the grade of observed weapons.
They also appear to be more matured in age than the children in previous crises, either they have matured as an informal “standing army” or they were deliberately recruited. I think the government knows this: that’s why the deferment of the LG elections here. But then what’s being done about it? Just like Minister Danbazzau ordered the disarmament of Beromland why was Jos North excluded?
3. One of the asymmetric disadvantage of the Nigerian Army in irregular warfare is the use of uniform. The uniform gives their position away to adversaries making them easy targets and also by using fake army uniforms adversaries deceive both the army and the public: indeed everyone becomes vulnerable. I would have thought that by now the Army would have overcome this vulnerability. On special operations they could change into special uniform and turn the table against illicit elements pretending to be soldiers. And of course, even the sound of their guns are another give-away to trained soldiers. It’s disheartening that after many years of fighting terrorism the use of fake uniform in civil population have continued unchecked. Many people were reported attacked in their homes during curfew hours by these people in fake uniform.
4. Lastly, the STF or OPSH should get its mandate and rules of engagement right. Operation Safe Haven (OPSH should mean safety of all, not just a section. There’s a false narrative out there that but for the presence of soldiers a section of the population in Plateau State would have been wiped out. In fact, this is the propaganda being peddled by people like Prof. Ishaq Akintola (who I must say is unworthy of the public office he presently occupies). This is not true, long before anyone else in this country Plateau people have learned to be at peace with everyone. Therefore, OPSH shouldn’t see itself as such, it’s mandate should ensure that All Lives Matter. Perhaps, the time has come to involve the civil society in redesigning the mandate and rules of engagement for the organization. The present unrest is the handiwork of mischief makers and extremists.
The President has promised to look into the causes of the recurrent crisis. Let him save the time and energy, he should just request for all the past judicial probe reports of previous crises in Jos. All that is needed is the political will to implement these reports.


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