By Dr. Aliyu Tilde
Jos Again (updated)
Jos is at it again. Two bomb blasts a day before Christmas in Christian dominated areas have today sparked off skirmishes in a number of neighbourhoods at the peripheries of the main city. The number of lives lost from the blasts is officially put at 32 while over 70 people are reportedly injured. The number of victims from today’s skirmishes is not reported. There are reports that lives have been lost and properties burnt.
Officials have not yet ascertained those behind the bombings. No group has claimed responsibility. From his comments over the BBC Hausa Service, Governor Jang is pointing a finger at his political opponents who want to use the crisis situation to their advantage. There are at least nine gubernatorial aspirants contending with the governor for the ruling party’s gubernatorial ticket. The governor claims that his government has evidence on the involvement of such people in the incident.
His opponents in the party accused the governor of mastermindin the bombs, pointing to the large amounts of weapons discovered in various locations in his local government of Jos South recently.
The recent claim of responsibility by a website claiming to be Muslim is seen as false and an attempt to fuel the crisis. Prayers have been held in various mosques calling on God to curse the perpetrators of the bombings.
The President has condemned the incident and said its perpetrators will be brought to book. The Chief of Army Staff called it an act of terrorism and blamed failure of intelligence on the part of the military and other law enforcement agents on ground.
Observers believe that the present conflict is likely to be different from previous ones in the increased sophistication of the arms used and in the presence of security agents on ground.
The use of explosives was predicted as the sophistication of weapons used by both factions in the crises continued to increase with every incident. Explosives are likely to raise casualties beyond previous figures and make the crisis difficult to quell quickly. It is doubtful whether increase intelligence is likely to bring about substantial reduction in occurrence given the poor state of security in the country. Averting bomb explosions has proved difficult even for elite armies of US and NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The presence of the military on ground will help in controlling fights in Jos town and raids of rural communities by ethnic militia in rural areas as it happened last February. In previous crises, damage to lives and property were incurred in the first 2 – 3 days before the military could be mobilized to various communities. This time around, the military has been all over the city and its surrounding communities since the February crisis.
The following days will be tense in both Christian and Muslim neighbourhoods of the city. If the governor’s claim is true, then more devastating explosions will be expected to happen soon in Muslim quarters of the city to give a semblance of reprisal by the same agents who detonated the yuletide bombs.
There has been concern in intelligence circles that politicians on the Plateau may use the vulnerability of the state to their advantage by fomenting further crisis in the build up to 2011 elections. And given the decade of mutual animosity between the communities, it is unlikely that the population of Jos will fail to be incited by such machinations.
Plateau state is predominantly Christian and the fight between the politicians there would essentially be won by who carries the heat of Christian population. It is unfortunate that the bombings that cause so much damage to lives and properties could be done for this purpose.
May God save the innocent and may the inhabitants of Jos Plateau decide to stay in peace with one another.
26 December 2010