Jang Indicts Army Over Jos Massacre

Published on Thursday 11th March 2010

Plateau State Governor Jonah John Jang has blamed the army for last Sunday's killings in the Jos South Local Government Area of the state.

He said if the military had acted on the intelligence he provided, the dastardly attacks in which over 300 persons mostly women and children were massacred would have been avoided.

But another round of attack that would have thrown Jos into more turmoil was somehow brought under control at the Police Staff College, Jos yesterday.

Some Berom youths had thronged the college over the Fulanis arrested for allegedly participating in last Sunday's attack.

In a bid by the task force maintaining security in the area to disperse the youths, however, one man was killed while two others sustained serious injuries.

Fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa Abuja, Jang said when he received reports at about 9pm on Saturday on movements of people with arms and ammunition around the three affected villages, he promptly reported the matter to the GOC of the 82 Division of the army in Jos, Major-General Maina Saleh.

The governor said the GOC assured him that he was going to move some troops there.

Jang, however, said he was shocked when about three hours later he received a Save-Our-Soul call that some people had started burning the villages and people were being hacked to death.

He said surprisingly when he was working the telephone to locate the GOC he could not get him.

Jang lamented that the violence could have been averted had the GOC acted on the early intelligence report provided him.

He said: "We know that what happened was that some people came across the border of Plateau State and started attacking villages, because nobody within Plateau got to these villages and started attacking them.

"I received reports at about 9pm that some movement of people with arms was seen around those villages and I reported to the GOC and he told me he was going to move some troops there, and because it is near where I live, I even saw a tank pass through my house and I thought it was going towards that area.

"Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they have started burning the villages and people were being hacked to death and I started trying to locate the GOC but I couldn't get him on the telephone. It could have been avoided if they acted on my report."

Asked about the way forward, the governor said the security particularly the army should redouble its efforts at providing security for the people and acting timely on information.

"You are asking what am I doing. I have said it several times, state governors are highly incapacitated. You are the chief security officer of a state and you don't command even a fly. What do you use to stop anything?

"The security report that I gave, I didn't even get that security report officially; it was the villagers themselves that saw the movements and reported. I didn't receive any security report about what was going to happen.

"So the security people have to double up their efforts, particularly the army that said they have now taken over security in Plateau State because the police are unable to cope. I expect that the army should live up to expectations and stop the carnage in Plateau. If they cannot, then they should as well get out of the place," the governor said.

Jang further stated that it was wrong for people to argue that the Sunday violence was precipitated by reprisal, which took place in Kurujenta on January 17, 2010, noting: "To the best of my knowledge what happened in Kurujenta I don't think Fulanis were involved. If you look at the houses that were burnt in Kurujenta, Kurujenta is a tin-mining camp, and houses burnt there, I mean everybody who lived there was involved.

"You could not say it was one-sided because the houses that were burnt cut across, which means the killings cut-across. But what happened there, some people moved Aljazeera there, and then covered dead bodies and start labelling them.

"When you cover dead bodies and start labelling them, who knew who you are covering? And then today Daily Trust was saying it was because of what happened in Kurujenta, because Fulanis were killed in Kurujenta. Fulanis don't live in Kurujenta."

The two who sustained gun shot injuries yesterday at the Police College, Jos were rushed to hospital and are at present receiving treatment.

Witnesses said the Berom youths had spotted some of the Fulani men believed to have sneaked into Kuru area on Sunday to attack some farmers.

As they ran after them, the Fulanis ran into the Police College through a broken fence but they were later captured.

The soldiers who got wind of the development quickly headed for the college to forestall the crisis.

THISDAY gathered that there was a near showdown between the police guards at the gate and the military men who were said to have gone to the college in two armoured tankers with registration nos NA 25-950322 and NA 25-95032333 and a Toyota Hilux car with registration no FGN 373A0/3.

The military men were said to have recovered the captured Fulanis from the Berom youths who protested that the Fulanis should be released to them to deal with.

The soldiers led by a captain shot into the air to scare the youths away, but when they persisted, the soldiers opened fire on them, killing one and injuring two others.

The police who were upset that the soldiers killed in their premises attempted to force the soldiers to take the body of killed Berom youths whose name was given as Mr. Gyang and the two injured persons along with them, a development that caused another row.

But instead, the soldiers left with the four Fulani men, leaving behind the dead body and the two injured persons who were later taken to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.

THISDAY could not get to speak with the GOC.Other military officers contacted declined to speak on the development.

Meanwhile, the Director League for Human Rights, Mr. Peter Shamaki, said Jos residents were beginning to get worried that killings have continued despite the presence of security agents in the state.

He said the people were gradually losing confidence in the ability of the military to protect them as there are now allegations of bias levelled against the security personnel.

Meanwhile, women from Chugwi Village, Vwang District of Jos South Local Government Area have protested the recent massive attack on them and the children of Dogon-Nahawa by people alleged to be Hausa/Fulani, describing it as unacceptable.

The women, who wore black attires and carried cross and thorns on their heads, chanted Christian songs as they matched to the palace of the village head, Da Wakili Gundong.

Carrying placards with various inscriptions, the women expressed concern that the security personnel, especially soldiers brought in to maintain security had allegedly taken sides.

Leader of the women, Mrs. Sarah A. Dennis, told the Gwom Rwei Vwang, Da. Choji K. Balat of the district that the Fulanis and their collaborators had brought untold hardship to mothers and children and that enough-is-enough.

The Chugwi community, they alleged, had lost over 250 women since 2001 to date while "able family men and youths" were also lost to the unending crisis.

According to the women leader, the community had also lost over 2000 cattle belonging to their husbands to the HausaFulani who "not only engaged in killing our people but also allegedly stole the people's livestock."

Following the incessant attacks, they added that they now live in fear, as reports indicate that their tormentors might come back anytime to finish the rest of them, as Chugwi has been listed as one of the villages lined up for fresh attacks.

The women called for the withdrawal of security men who have shown bias in their duties.

The district head, in his response, appealed to the women to be calm, promising to do everything possible to ensure that their demands are presented to the appropriate authorities.



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