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Jos Crisis: January 17th – 20th 2010

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau State Chapter’s Preliminary

Erzbischof Ignatius Kaigama, Jos/Nigeria

1. Februar 2010

Understanding of the Situation

1. Introduction

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the government, the people of Plateau State and indeed all Nigerians. It is no longer news that on Sunday, January the 17th 2010 at about 10:00am, in a most unpredictable circumstance, a fresh outbreak of violence erupted on us again on the peaceful plains of the Plateau beginning from the Nasarawa part of Jos North LGA which spread to other parts including Bukuru, Gyel, Bisichi, Kaduna Vom, Kuru Karama and others.

2. Condolences

May we seize this opportunity to renew our condolences to the government and people of Plateau State over the loss of lives and to assure all the affected families that we empathise with them over the loss of their loved ones and means of livelihood and we wish the injured speedy recovery.

3. The Issue At Hand

Right from the start of the crisis, the EXCO of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Denominational Heads have been relentlessly and tirelessly working round the clock to calm nerves as well as seeking to establish the root cause of the crisis and to come out with a position that is premised on our Christian virtues – the position of truth. The Church Heads and Leaders have thus been meeting, praying and researching on the issue. Though many people have already reported about the events, using various means including eye-witness accounts – verbal and written, rumours and hear say stories, the CAN Directorate of Research has rather carefully given time to investigating beyond mere sentimental outbursts in order to eventually present a careful and factual account.

The persistent recurrence of crises on the Plateau is deeply traumatising, saddening, embarrassing and retrogressive to the citizens of Plateau State.

We are terribly saddened by the very easy resort to violence and condemn all actions that led to the loss of lives and the destruction of properties. The position of the church however remains that government takes a decisive step in digging into the root cause of the crisis; bring justice to bear on the perpetrators of the dastardly acts committed without an allowance for sacred cows. The church on the Plateau has always maintained peace. It has never provoked nor started any crisis on the Plateau. It remains peaceful and will continue to preach, teach, advise, appeal, pursue and promote every means to peaceful coexistence.

For long, in similar outbreak of violence in other parts of northern Nigeria the church has always ended up the target and victim of sectarian attacks. She has for years waited for justice to take its course, but to no avail.

The findings of CAN so far on the recent crisis, reveal that most of the reports sent out by various interest groups, affected individuals and media outfits, local and international, is less than a reflection of the truth on ground, which is now vigorously being researched. CAN therefore, enjoins all to in the interest of peace, exercise restraint and avoid exaggerating facts and figures.

CAN’s preliminary investigations go further to show that an incident which would have easily been managed was mismanaged and therefore the eruption and escalation of violence. And rather than quell the situation, many of our people have reported that the security – the army in particular, took side and made worse the situation. On the whole, we appreciate and thank the security agents who worked so hard to return Jos and environs to its atmosphere of tranquillity. However, the redeployment of the then Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gregory Anyanting in the wake of the crisis has been perceived with mixed feelings by the Christian community on the Plateau. It appeared hasty and without sensitivity to the fragility of peace as prevalent in the state at the time. If he was deployed on the basis of the crisis then CAN perceives injustice.

CAN views the action of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Director General in ordering a three-week break for Youth Corp Members serving in Plateau State as further inflaming the prevailing mood and situation and portraying the state as ungovernable.

CAN Plateau State views these collective and independent actions as subtle plans to give Plateau State a bad name in order to hang it.

While appreciating the security measures taken by government at the federal level, we wish to observe that the Federal government went in excess by ordering the withdrawal of the police operations in favour of the army during curfew hours. Our understanding is that the police are the constitutional custodians of law and order in a democratic and civil rule.

In view of the aforesaid, we wish to request government to be more constitutional in its response to matters that touch on the sensitive issues of security, especially in a crisis situation so that rather than deepening the crisis, it is curbed very quickly.

We commend the State Governor Jonah D. Jang for the practical measures taken to contain this situation and pray for him and his team for wisdom to find a closure to this constant menace. We also appreciate the visit of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to Jos on Tuesday 26th January and thank him for his gesture of solidarity and assurance of the promotion of the security and common good of Plateau State.

Finally, we crave the indulgence of all the people in Plateau State and particularly Christians to let peace which is an attitude of the heart, quickly return to us, as we begin a process of forgiveness and reconciliation with one another while awaiting further fact finding and the establishment of the truth of all that has befallen us as a people. Trusting also that government will not relent in its efforts to bring justice to bear on whoever the perpetrators are as it launches its search light after such.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give us grace and peace (cf. 1 Cor. 1:3)

4. Some Recommendations

CAN recommends as follows:

a) A rapid response mechanism should be put in place against subsequent occurrences – all over the country.
b) Flash point areas should be identified and permanent security be put in place.
c) The political underpinnings of the crisis clothed in ethnic and religious garments must be unearthed to avoid repeated occurrences.
d) The white paper of past commissions of enquiry be made public and implemented to the latter.
e) We call on the Christian community not just to pray but to care and open their doors in charity to all affected persons in the crisis. We particularly wish to commend practical steps of care especially with offerings taken in Churches on Sunday to assist those displaced persons in our midst.
f) CAN supports the ban on sale of petrol (black market), “mai ruwa”, street begging and commercial motor cycle (Okada) riders and call on government to make it permanent. This ban will however be effective only if the State Government will ensure that there is adequate and good transport system, water supply and avenues for youth employment.
g) CAN will also like to suggest to government that laws made are enforced.
h) Government should look into some arbitrary arrests in the wake of the crisis but to ensure that the guilty are punished and only the innocent set free

Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama
CAN Chairman, Plateau State

Rev. Chuwang C. Davou
CAN Secretary, Plateau State

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