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20 Feared Killed in Another Jos Riot in Nigeria

Published on Tuesday 19th January 2010 20 Feared Killed in Another Jos Riot in Nigeria

The fragile peace in Jos, Plateau State, collapsed last Sunday when another riot broke out in Dutse-Uku quarters in Nasarawa-Gwong area of Jos North local government, leading to the death of at least 20 people and leaving many injured.

THISDAY gathered that the state Governor Jonah Jang has imposed a dusk-to-down curfew to contain the situation. A statement released by the government house read: "after reviewing the security situation along with the state security council, we have directed the observance of 6pm to 6am curfew within Jos metropolis.

"The measure is aimed at nipping in the bud the prevailing security situation in Jos town so that hoodlums will not take advantage of the security breach to molest innocent citizens."

The latest bout of violence occurred following a misunderstanding between two neighbours, one Mr. Garba, a Muslim and the other a Christian who both had their houses burnt during the November 2008 crisis.

THISDAY learnt that they decided to re-build their homes when Garba allegedly encroached on the plot of his Christian neighbour, a development that resulted into a hot argument and then a fight.

The entire quarters re-grouped along religious lines and began a riot that spread to other parts of the city.

Security agencies; heavily armed military personnel and riot policemen were drafted from the Maxwell Kobi Cantonment and Police Headquarters in Jos. The crisis was effectively contained thereby preventing the rioters from taking over the entire city.

As at press time, commercial vehicles had deserted major roads in Jos. Stranded commuters, most of whom were Christians coming back from the church were seen trekking long distances to their homes. Scores of armoured tankers and heavy security road-blocks were mounted in the city coupled with thorough search of the few private vehicles plying the roads.

The state government in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Greg Yelong, said: "the police and other security agents are putting the situation under control."

"Government appeals to people to remain calm and report any suspicious movement to the police," the statement added.

Two burnt bodies and a motor-bike were seen around the Jos Central Mosque. Staff of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) also confirmed that at least eight bodies were brought to the mortuary. The same picture was painted at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital where over 30 wounded patients were on the floor.

Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Moha-mmed Lerama, said: "the situation is being contained. Other residents of the town are advised to remain calm and report any suspicious movement. Anyone who takes the law into his or her hand would be dealt with in accordance with the law. Residents should equally disregard any rumour of crisis in the city."

Meanwhile, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Greg Ayating, revealed that 35 arrests had been made, five of them in military uniform.

He explained that the extent of houses and churches burnt could not be ascertained as yet and that the police would want to work with definite statistics. But he said the information available to him is that "a hand-full of some Muslim youths without any form of provocation began to attack the Christians worshippers in their places of worship".

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to bring peace to the boiling city of Jos, the Inspector General of Police (IG) Ogbonna Onovo, has ordered the immediate redeployment of four mobile units to quell the crisis.

Speaking on behalf of the IG yesterday evening in Abuja, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Yemi Ajayi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), said normalcy had since returned to the city.

Ajayi said the cause of the riot was yet to be ascertained, as well as the number of the causalities.

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