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Jos crisis was premeditated, says plateau official

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Jos crisis was premeditated, says plateau official

Post  Admin on Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:42 am

Barrister Nankin Bagudu, Plateau state commissioner for Housing and Environment spoke to ISA ABDULSALAMI on the Jos crisis. He said the planning and execution of the crisis shows that it was a premeditated operation, adding that governor Jonah Jang could not be blamed over any security lapses because he did everything within his powers to help and encourage the security agencies to do their work well. Excerpts.

What do you think was the cause of the November 28, 2008 Jos crisis?

Well, I think that the Jos crisis that occurred on November 28 cannot be isolated from the historical background of the evolution of Jos and the issue of aborigine as a historical background. Jos, as most people have known, used to be important mining town and because of that many people were appointed by the British to work in the mines and even before that time the British had carved out many parts of Northern Nigeria and given out to the Emirate and by special arrangements the beginning of colonial rule in Jos and part of Plateau State was cut out and given out to the Bauchi Emirate. And that had brought in its own problem. And throughout this period of colonial rule up till now, a lot of people are still in Jos working in the mines and when the mining activities ended, many of them did not go back or lost touch with where they came from. And therefore, a proposal arose between those who say they own Jos town and those who say Jos was founded on their farm land and therefore this conflict over ownership of Jos and the desire to have political control of Jos town can be seen as the root cause of the problem that led to the crisis of November 28, 2008. I know before then there had been similar conflicts in Jos and we had the first crisis in 1943 where the Igbos and the Hausas had a conflict in Bukuru and in the 1960s, before the civil war, there was also similar conflict between the Igbos and Hausas and the crisis continued intermittently to 2001 and 2002 when the Jos main market was burnt down. In 2004 another crisis broke out and then now the crisis has continued. Also the British did not help matters because in the colonial period, there was a clear discrimination between the natives and the Hausa people and in those periods the British were first class citizens and the Hausas were second class and they rated us as third class. Even that was very clear in the issue of taxation where you had the company tax, you had the Hausa tax and you had native tax and clearly there was no discrimination in terms of how the thing became confrontational and this feeling of superiority has continued up till today to the extent that psychologically that feeling of being superior to the natives has continued up till today and has led to this great conspiracy to gang up to capture Jos and that attempt had failed in the past 200 years and cannot succeed now.

What do you think was the immediate cause of this crisis?

The current crisis that occurred now was a fall- out of the November 27, 2008 local government elections but the crisis was not political but it had political and religious connotations. There was a link between politics and religion, and it was caused because many people had foreseen that they were going to lose the election and as far as they were concerned nobody else was qualified to rule Jos North apart from them and therefore, either they rule Jos North or nobody else should do that. And this has also led to the polarization of Jos city in terms of habitation, in terms of relationship between the current divisions. It is supported because in the past many of the people had voted not on the basis of religion but on the basis of ability. That is why you have a lot of people who are not from Plateau State who were elected into public office. This crisis actually came as a fall out of the elections as people used the elections as cover to start destroying property like churches, houses of people who belong to opposing religion and that is quite sad. It was properly planned, well executed and was done in such a way that is would cause maximum damage and cause other destructions because the target of attack itself is evidence that this was actually planned.

How will you react to talks that the crisis was caused because the election was being manipulated to favour the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

No, that is not true. People that know the geographical configuration of Jos North will know that ANPP cannot win elections in Jos North with the way and manner in which they are complaining. How many wards ANPP supporters are controlling? How many are in the hands of the non-ANPP supporters? If the entire supporters of ANPP in Jos North are going to vote for only one candidate with their population, they know that they cannot win elections. In the election, the results had not been announced officially when violence broke out. It was not the elections but a mere cover-up.

Do you see any lapse in the security arrangement in place?

The way Nigerian constitution operates, it operates in such a way that there is a limit to what the governor can do without security. We have the Commissioner of Police, we have the General Officer Commanding (GOC), the State Security Service (SSS), we have the special commanders but there is a limit to which the governor has power to give them directives. Even if the governor gives directives to them, they will still have to get clearance from their Headquarters in Abuja first. Although the governor is Chief Security Officer of the state, he does not have complete control over the security agencies. But as far as I know every week the state government holds Security Council meeting and discusses the security situation in the state. And the government has given maximum support to the security in the state and we know how much government spends in purchasing Hilux Vehicles given to the police, how much the government spends on allowances everyday and how much they spend on security information gadgets. And the vehicles purchased were distributed across the state particularly the flash points. Apart from Jos North, there are other flashpoints like Langtang North, Wase, Mikang, Quaan Pan and that was how the vehicles were distributed to ensure that there would be adequate security. Whatever the security agencies wanted, the government gives them. And the government acted on the security report given to it about Jos North before embarking on the elections and based on that, the security agencies were adequately spread across. But what shocked everybody was the scale of destruction that happened because we expected that even if there would be protests, it would be after the results had been announced. The crisis was properly planned and well executed as certain people were targeted. What has a pastor or a church got to do with election results? And within both religions we have a lot of ANPP and PDP supporters. Why do you attack a Pastor, why do you kill a Christian or a Moslem purely because of election results? So I think what the government had done is to break the jinx and conduct elections in Jos North so far it is part of Plateau State. So, I don't think there is anything unique about holding elections there. And I think that this conspiracy by some people to capture Jos North will fail. It had failed in the past and will not succeed now.

How will you reconcile your position with that of the governor who says he was misled by security report that the election should hold?

Like I said earlier, there is a limit to what the governor can do. All the reports that went to the governor showed that there would be no problem. So, the governor did everything humanly possible and allowed the security to do their work. It was unfortunate that the scale of what happened surprised everybody because we did not expect that people would go to the extent of killing and destroying in the name of elections. It definitely showed that it was properly planned and the mercenaries that came from Niger and Chad Republic shocked everybody because if it was just a local government election they came for, people started wondering what purpose they were out to achieve. Therefore, I think it was not fair to accuse the governor of not taking adequate security measure before the election. He had done everything possible and being a former military officer who had governed two states before, he would not handle the issue of security with levity even with the lean resources. Even as a ministry, we have given four of our vehicles to the security agencies some of them even before the crisis.


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