Vice-President Jos - Jonathan Deploys Troops Across the North in Nigeria

Published on Thursday 21st January 2010 Vice-President Jos - Jonathan Deploys Troops Across the North in Nigeria

The Federal Government has moved to prevent total breakdown of law and order following renewed fighting in Jos, Plateau State.

Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday ordered the deployment of troops in the troubled areas, while states in Northern Nigeria have been placed on red alert.

This comes as the Governor of Plateau State, David Jonah Jang, imposed a 24-hour curfew to stop violence from spiralling out of control.

Also, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ogbonna Onovo, has moved to Jos for on-the-spot assessment.

Besides, the Red Cross said some 4,000 people had been displaced, while bodies littered the streets.

The riot, which broke out last Sunday following a misunderstanding between a Muslim and a Christian, was initially contained.

But fresh crisis erupted in other parts including Bukuru in Jos North Local Government Area yesterday leading to the arrest of 168 persons.

Jonathan gave the directive for the deployment of troops at the end of a security meeting that took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Sarki Muktar (rtd), who disclosed this at the end of the meeting, said the troop deployment was meant to complement the efforts of the police in quelling the crisis.

Muktar further disclosed that Jonathan also directed Onovo, the Director of Operation of the State Security Service (SSS) and other relevant security officers to immediately proceed to Jos to assess the situation and report back to him.

The team, according to Muktar, was dispatched to Jos to provide authentic information on the situation on the ground in view of conflicting reports in the media.

"As at yesterday, the situation seems to have normalised, but for reasons we can't explain yet, but which we are going to find out now, the VP has directed that the IGP, the director of operation of the SSS, and other officers connected with the situation should immediately move to Jos, assess the situation and return back," Muktar said.

According to him, "there has been very conflicting reports from different media and different sources and to have a clear picture, we have to send the team. So, any statement I am going to make now will be presumptuous. Let them come back and we will have a fair assessment of the situation that will form the basis of the statement we are going to make. At the moment, the military had moved in concert with the police to normalise the situation."

Those who attended yesterday's security meeting with Jonathan included the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Paul Dike; Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Afakriya Gadzama; Minister of Interior Mustapha Shetima; Minister of Police Affairs Senator Yakubu Lame; Director of Military Intelligence Mohammed Mugono; and the Plateau State Governor Jang.

Also, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, said the troops would be deployed from neighbouring states to support the 3rd Armoured Brigade and other security agencies in Jos.

Dambazau explained that the 3rd Armoured Brigade in Jos would be the main co-ordinator of efforts to keep peace, adding that re-enforcement from a Division in Kaduna and another from Bauchi had been deployed.

In an interview granted the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and monitored from Abuja, the army chief stated that the army planned deploying humanitarian services and the public relations department to provide other services such as medical that might be needed.

Dambazau said the situation would be reviewed continually until peace returns to the area.

The police have also moved into action. In a wireless message, Onovo directed all command commissioners of police (CPs), especially those who share common boundary with Plateau State, to be on alert.

He called on the security officers to commence full patrol of their areas and intelligence gathering to enable the force carry out its duties.

This order, according to a source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, was sent to all the Northern States Command CPs, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Onovo asked Plateau State CP, Mr. Greg Anyating, to ensure that the 24-hour curfew imposed in the troubled area is strictly adhered to.

THISDAY learnt that Kaduna and Bauchi State governments have taken measures to forestall any reprisal.

Their actions follow past experiences where riot in one Northern state spreads to others causing upheaval, mindless killings and destruction of property.

A press release signed by the Secretary to the Bauchi State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Dandija, has directed security agents "to deal decisively with anyone seen or caught trying to either ignite trouble or spread unfounded rumours that are intended to breach the peace in the state.

"The general public is hereby called upon not to entertain any fear or panic of any possible eruption of similar crisis in the state as all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people of the state.

Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Atiku Yusuf Kafur, reportedly declared that border patrols had been intensified at all the borders between Bauchi and Plateau to check movement of dangerous weapons.

Kafur urged people of the state to go about their normal lives without fear of attack.

The Kaduna State Government said it is monitoring the situation in Jos, and is keeping a close watch on the movement of people into the state to forestall breakdown of law and order.

A statement made available to journalists and signed by the state Commissioner for Information, Saidu Adamu, said the measure becomes necessary in order to douse tensions.

It said state's special security outfit, "Operation Yaki" had been placed on high alert.

It also urged the citizens of the state to shun rumour mongering and learn to live as one big family.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen as more bodies litter the streets of Bukuru and other places where the bodies are being conveyed to the mortuary in Red Cross vans.

The Red Cross has put the figure of displaced people taking refuge at various camps in the city at 4,000, while 168 suspects were arrested and large assorted arms and ammunitions were recovered.

In his address, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba, has appealed for calm. According to him, no meaningful development could thrive in an atmosphere of crisis. He said more security persons should be drafted to the flash points in the city.

Official number of death was not available as at press time. But the police said Monday that 13 people were killed, while 32 were injured. It also said 51 were arrested.

However, sources told THISDAY that 80 people were arrested as at Monday, some of them clad in military uniforms. Some 26 people were reported dead too.

A disagreement between a Christian and Muslim neighbour with one claiming his land was encroached upon, was said to have sparked the latest bout of violence.



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