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Declear a state of emergency in Plateau state now

By Kenneth Uwadi

The incessant genocides in Plateau state, which started since 1999, led to loss of thousands of lives and teeming number of refugees (widows & orphans). The major ones occurred in 2001 and 2004.We will not forget when the Olusegun Obasanjo led federal government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in the central Plateau state after massacres between two ethnic groups were turning into a religious war. Obasanjo feared the violence there could spread across the country. Obasanjo announced the decision in Abuja on may 18 2004, suspending the then state governor Joshua Dariye - whom he accused of being weak and incompetent and replaced him with a retired army general, Major General Chris Alli. The emergency legislation gives the police and other security services the power to detain people indefinitely, conduct searches without warrants, impose curfews and ban public processions. Obasanjo said the state of emergency was to be reviewed in six months’ time.

Major General Alli, who previously held power in the state when Nigeria was under military rule, warned, “In my 32 years in the military, I have been taught to use force and again I am the administrator. So I have all the powers to crush any attack.”

Plateau State is the twelfth largest state of Nigeria, and is roughly located in the center of the country. Its capital is Jos. Plateau State is celebrated as "The Home of Peace and Tourism", an image that has been fractured in recent years by Muslim-Christian clashes in the state. Plateau State gets its name from the Jos Plateau. It has a population of around 3.5 million people. The Plateau State administrative structure consists of the State Cabinet, the House of Assembly and Local Government Areas.

The state government is run by the Governor (chief executive), Deputy Governor, Secretary to the state government, Commissioners (cabinet members), special advisers, permanent secretaries, board chairmen and general managers. The current governor of the state is Jonah Jang.

In November 2008, a group orchestrated ethno religious cleansing. In the pogrom that followed about a thousand people lost their lives. Yet again on the 17th of January 2010, Jos was engulfed in another killing spree.March 2010, Jos Plateau state is at it again.Over 300 people, mostly women and children, were murdered in the early hours of march 7 following attacks on Dogo-Na-Hawa, Ratsat and Jeji villages in Foron district, Jos South Local Government Area, Plateau State.The attacks were visited on the Berom villages by men suspected to be Hausa-Fulani fighters who had descended from the hills from where they launched into the villages at about 2am.

Going by the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in the aftermath of the January riots in which over 350 died, there was supposed to be military presence in the area at that time.

Some of the fighters were said to have positioned themselves at strategic entrances to the villages, while others went in and began to set houses on fire. Those who made to escape were butchered while others were shot.A reporter counted over 180 bodies at the scene. At the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, 18 other bodies were also deposited at the mortuary.

Former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, has blamed the crisis in Plateau state on the poor leadership qualities of Governor Jonah Jang. He called for Jang's removal as the governor of Plateau State.According to Senator Mantu, the state has witnessed four ethno-religious crises since Air Commodore Jonah Jang became the governor of the state, adding that there is no guarantee that there would be no further loss of lives and property in the state under Jang.

Mantu said the governor had been treating the conflict in the state with kid glove which was why the crises continued. He said, "with the benefit of the hindsight, you can see that those of us who called for the imposition of state of emergency during the tenure of Mr. Joshua Dariye, were right. After that there was relative peace in the state. Now we are back to square one." Senator Mantu said the present governor has not shown competence in managing the affairs of the state. He accused the governor of setting up panels of enquiries whose reports are not fully implemented.

Mantu is correct.The Acting President should as a matter of urgency declare a state of emergency in Plateau State .The state government is grossly incapable, ineffecient and cannot handle the situation. What a mess. I had tears drop down from my eyes while i listen to this ugly news. Why in the name of God would this thing be said to happen again?

Before there is a reprisal attack that will kill more people, the Federal government should take steps to prevent further occurrence. These crises have clearly shown that Jonah Jang is too incompetent to lead Plateau. Goodluck Jonathan should suspend Jonah Jang and impose the state of emergency in Plateau state to protect lives and property until this issue is finally resolved. It will be sadistic and irresponsible of the National assembly to refuse to support declaration of state of emergency in Plateau State with so much loss of lives and suffering because of petty party interests.

-Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu Egbema,Imo State,Nigeria

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