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What might have caused killing of travellers in Jos?

It is totally bad and evil to kill anyone for whatever reasons. No less the innocent passengers that met their waterloo in Jos on Saturday, August 14, 2021. It is totally regrettable and one sad notch in our already ugly fragile history.

On this day the Irigwe people were burying their dead. Their people have been killed, houses burnt, their crops destroyed and the Fulani herders released their cattle that grazed down their crops with hardly any help from the government or the military who live among them. The criminals were seen in broad-daylight and nobody did anything to stem their plight. They believe they are on their own and no one will come to their aid. These raids persisted for several years and got heightened only a few weeks ago with intense attacks that led to several losses of lives and properties.

The larger indigenous people of Plateau State are not happy with their Governor because they believe he is doing very little to help check mate these killings and community raids of his people. Unlike the Benue State governor who apparently is standing by his people, rather he is, by some of his comments and body language, including actions, seem to support the enemies of the state, by his passivity or by his non decisive stance in the face of evil against his people. So there is already so much anger among the people. When the Irigwe’s were killed, there was no urgency or any serious action that will convince the people that the government both at state and federal level careless. First, there was hardly any comment from the presidency if any.

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▪The Fulani muslims on Rukuba road

It is understood that these commuters were on their way to Ondo and opted for Rukubaroad to get out of town. For those in Jos, this is strange. I live in Rukubaroad and there is no way, even for me, who knows the road very well could take such an option. First, it’s very rough. It was a good option about 3 to 4 years ago but not anymore especially at this time of the season – your car will literally turn red because of the splash of the murky mud. There is no public or private commuter who will consider this as a better option through any circumstances – and it’s not a road that strangers will find themselves on except if it is quite a deliberate attempt to do so. Second, because of the constant unchecked herdsmen attacks, no one will even dare consider this as an option because one could be caught and killed. Third, the incidence happened around 10am. There is no place in Jos and Bukuru area that has traffic-hold up around 10am. Holdups throughout Jos are between 7:30am and 8:30am at worse 9am in the morning and 5pm to 7:30pm in the evening. Besides, going out of town, from Bauchi, except for GadaBiu or British America junction, there is no obstruction for people going out of town. Fourth, this is a Saturday and traffic is usually always fluid especially by this time of the day. Fifth, we have several parks in Jos. We have several parks in GadaBiu and FarinGada. None of these commuters use this road as a better route or option or short cut for going out of town. So why did people coming from Bauchi that should have considered the Yantrailer bypass, which is by far a better option, prefer the Miango option? Believe me it is hard to understand.

Read also: Jos killings: LG chairman warns against reprisals

▪The suspicion

These commuters were, perhaps, intercepted because those who intercepted them felt with the seeming silence of the government and the Governor over the plight of the Irigwe nation, and with the mass gathering of the Irigwe people to bury their dead on the same day, the Fulani convoy must be going there to supposedly attack the Miango people who were at this time already on the burial possession. This explains why they intercepted them. It is important to know that the presence of Fulani on this road in the circumstances of the current tension in such a large number is capable of causing such a fracas – this does not require common sense. Honestly, this attack can never be a surprise.

No one will out rightly believe a convoy of Fulani muslims will be heading to Ondo which is predominantly a Yoruba land. So it will be difficult to believe that a set of Fulani people going through Miangoare en-route to Ondo. So it is clear why the attackers didnot listen to them. For Fulani to be on this road after their people have caused so much havoc, on a day the people were burying the victims of Fulani slaughter must either be a deliberate attempt or what I will refer to, ironically, as an incidence, in Hausa parlance ,and theology, what “God ordained” “kaddara”.

Because of the target among the Irigwe people it is common to assume that it is the Irigwe people that carried out this mayhem. Out rightly, it appears so. But Rukubaroad is a blend of all tribes. If placed side by side, the Irigwe people may just constitute 20% of the population of Rukubaroad or even less. So to assume it is the Irigwe people that perpetuated this sham is misleading. Again, to say there is no single Irigwe person involved in the mayhem may also be misleading.

▪A Christian response?

The religious narratives for those who killed and destroyed Irigwe people, their properties and farmlands and, of course throughout the country are that the killings and destructions are a jihad. Both the herdsmen and Boko Haram are killing in the name of Allah and their main target is Christians not excluding nominal Muslims though. They are the very people who sell the narrative of a religious war themselves so it is quite easy when event like this happen to type it as a Christian response. What happened on Saturday, August 14, we must assume, was not a coordinated attack. I donot think it was premeditated. Those who were involved in the attack must certainly be professing Christians but I am sure they did not carry out the attack under the auspices of the Christian faith. This must be understood. If they do so, they do not do it with the agreement of any church. I donot even think it is a closed group. I have a feeling that it is a spontaneous uncoordinated evil which unfortunately led to the death of so many people.

▪An ambulance or a coffin?

I am not sure if there was an ambulance in that convoy or a bus carrying a coffin. This needs to be investigated. If there was a coffin, the question is what was in that coffin that triggered such violence? Was it a dead body of something altogether different, that nobody wants to talk about or is it even a fallacy?

▪The injustice!

Over 22 people lost their lives in this senseless and gruesome murder regrettably. Within this critically short time the presidency made a press release, the Governor made several press release accompanied by clear and definite actions to stem the crisis. This was not so when the Irigwe people were being massacred and of course with the rest of the tribes and other faiths. This is perceived to be injustice!

The government and security actors must deal with all people on equal stance. All lives matter and until this is done we will see a lot of this kind of evil repeating itself. This killing as much as we want to attribute to some group of miscreants the real problem is our political actors who refused to be fair to all – who seem to favour one tribe and one religion over the rest.

While news media filled us with the news of Christians causing this mayhem, they also fail to admit that for the majority of those who survived the mayhem were saved by Christians. There was no way anyone will escape being lynched in Rukubaroad if everyone wanted it to happen. Again, the some of the news media quickly jumped to the conclusion that it was the Irigwe people. How did they arrive at that? The fact that we suspect the Irigwe people to push that narrative on the mainstream media is not only unfair but dangerous – it is like giving a dog a bad name so you could hang it.

▪Never again!

I believe we should never see this day again. No one should die for the evil of others. If anyone is part of this mayhem they should repent and submit themselves to the Police. The Police should also do itsthorough investigation so that innocent people do not have to suffer for this. As Christians this kind of evil should not even be mentioned among us no matter how much we are pushed. We are better than this and we can do better than this.

For all the families who lost their loved one, or those who are wounded and the rest who had to go through psychological torture and fright, accept our deepest condolences and sympathy. This is the evil we have created and sadly it is swallowing us up. We are sorry for your loss.

I am only a keen observer. Incidentally I was not even in Jos when this happened. With the anger all over the land, this shouldnot be a surprise and I hope we will not just arrest the people but attempt to apply fairness and justice to all otherwise this is bound to repeat itself if not here on the Plateau, it will in other parts of the country.

Was it not George Santayana who said?

“Those who do not remember history, are condemned to repeat it”

Phillips wrote from Jos

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