ActionAid Nigeria criticises the government handling of crisis in Plateau State in North Central Nigeria. The crisis which has been lingering for over two years has claimed hundreds of lives and several properties. Some of the recent incidences is the carnage in a remote community in the state, Dogo Nahauwa, where over 500 women and children were killed overnight.
Over a year ago, precisely on February 2, 2010 ActionAid Nigeria observing the situation in Jos, Nigeria had at a press conference expressed concern over a conflict which we described as “the most recurring and the most frightening in the nation history In the aftermath of the incident that prompted our intervention and expression of concern then in 2010, not less 6000 persons had been displaced and over 350 lives were lost.
Our then was that “situation in Jos occurred as a result of the failure of the state in fulfilling its obligations as duty bearers with the responsibility of ensuring protection of rights of all citizens irrespective of religion or ethnicity.”
The situation as we explained it back then was as a result of “the failure of the state to implement the recommendations in reports of several committees of enquiry (on Jos Crises including the much celebrated 2004 peace conference), no doubt would have prevented the recent crisis. The refusal to make use of the reports has raised questions on the reason for investing so much resource on these committees and reasons for their establishment.
“That the state has continued to treat each crisis in isolation of the others, as well as in isolation of the general conflicts which have manifested as ethno-religious conflicts in the middle belt, and across the northern parts of Nigeria has also in no small way contributed to the re-occurrence of these crises.”
Unfortunately, situation in the once peaceful city has not changed. Recent killings in the city were preventable. It is no longer a secret that innocent citizens in parts of the state had taken commercial bikes and cabs and such persons taken to other places other than their intended destination ans subsequently slaughtered.
That people in Plateau live in perpetual state of fear is no longer controvertible. That people go to places including worship centres with a heavy presence of security personnel and armored tanks on guard has in no way mitigated this fear of death as the overwhelming presence of security personnel been ineffective in stemming the tide of violence.
it is also no longer news that people and community members no longer trust the government and the military on the streets to provide needed protection, safety and security.
We have found it necessary to reiterate our previous call that in order to restore confidence of the people in the Nigerian state and trust in ability of relevant security agencies to stem the tide of violence in the state, “It is imperative that the government bring to book culprits in the orgy of violence that was visited on the people.
“We however caution that government should desist in arrest, parade and prosecution of young persons who have been manipulated into taking part in the attacks on their compatriots. The real instigators of violence must be apprehended by the security agencies and not allowed to go unpublished.
“We call on governments at all level in the country to be more responsive to their responsibility of protecting the lives and property without discrimination, irrespective of nationality or belief.”
We also find it important to recall our warning that unless the state of poverty in Plateau state and other parts of the country is arrested, not only will this orgy of violence remain unstemmed but continue to spread to other parts of the country as has been witnessed in recent times. We therefore reiterate our call that the Nigerian government arrest the state of poverty in the country.
As we warned last year, “If government fails to fight poverty, not only will poverty fight back, but will continue to manifest in the spates of violence that has erupted in different parts of the country in recent times.”
There is no doubt that the state of poverty has been largely responsible for bloody clashes over resources in Jos and other part of the .
Increasing levels of poverty due to the scaling back of the state has provided a fertile ground for the exclusionary and competitive mobilisation of grievances. This is a clear indication of the need to reconstruct a state that meets the basic needs of its people, one that delivers on the potential and promise of good governance. This means that the state must be representative, responsible, accountable and transparent. But it must also be one that is based on the active participation of all its citizens.
In addition to the foregoing and in further realisation of the fact that the primary purpose of Government is security and welfare of the people, we hereby call on both the state and federal governments to• quickly and urgently release and implement the reports of the judicial and other panels set up to address the crises• quickly and urgently commence diligent prosecution of all those arrested for perpetrating various crimes during those crises. • ensure protection for the citizenry by addressing the gaps in Joint Task Force put in place to address the crisis.We also unequivocally deplore the pervasive poverty, unemployment and misery in every part of Nigeria that have helped to exacerbate the crises and crime situation in the country as most of the youth now engage in various forms of violent crimes and call on the government to take urgent steps to arrest the situation.