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Another look at the Jos crisis, this time at the heroes

March 11, 2010

By Agyeno Ehase, IPPNW-Nigeria

Reprinted from the Sahara Reporters, 19 February 2010.

Permit me sir to use this medium to write a rejoinder to the various articles that have been published in almost every national daily condemning the recent incident in Jos. I, like most Nigerian citizens, think that this recent crisis was one too many in a city that has lost its allure and is already trailing by many decades among states of a country that has little that is positive by way of international image. I was born and bred in Jos, and there is yet no city in this country that gives me the feeling of ‘home’ like Jos does. The scenery is breathtaking, the weather second to none and the people are probably the friendliest to be found in any part of this country (and I say this without any bias to any group in particular). Let me reiterate as a man of conscience that the killings and wanton destruction of property are shameful and godless acts that are condemnable by every standard; let he who thinks that killing in the name of religion either preemptively or by retaliation is justified correct me!

As a student of the University of Jos, I remember how stranded and heartbroken I was during the 2001 crisis seeing a city I loved so much burnt to the ground and people who have lived in harmony for decades suddenly take up arms and sides against each other. When it happened again in 2008 it proved, in my opinion, the dogged nature with which man can hate. This recent one proves nothing more than what we all feared: that with the phlegm of government to institute programmes that foster citizen interaction and understanding and failure to bring culprits to book, coupled with the increasing erection of walls along indigene-settler, religious and ethnic lines spurred in a lot of cases by some not so tactful columnists riding on a wave of inept leadership, the situation in Jos was akin to an unscrewed cork sitting atop a shaken bottle of champagne. This crisis has come and exerted its physical, economic and emotional tolls, could we now bow our heads and reflect on when we loved each other, lived and dined and married each other?

So much has been said in the media by different people representing different interests but I have yet to see anyone who dared mention the heroes of Jos crisis; and I mean every single one of them right from 2001. By heroes I mean those people on both sides who surmounted hatred and took the path of honour and neigbourliness to ensure the safety of their friends, colleagues and neighbours in the heat of the crisis. Examples are replete to buttress this fact, most of which I am afraid are not in black and white.

In Bukuru, around Gyero Road is the story of a middle-aged Muslim who while trying to pacify the hordes of Muslim youths going to attack Christians was slashed with a machete. My friend who recounted the incident did not wait long enough to see if the man survived or not, but if he did he no doubt would have an indelible souvenir from that incident. Then there is a story of a Muslim family that had been in Bukuru for over three decades whose home was completely razed down but found refuge with Christian neighbours until transport was arranged for them to Abuja, to safety. And back in 2001, I won’t forget a friend of mine from Gombe who was given shelter by a Muslim family in Angwan Rogo – ground zero as it was then – till they were able to bring her to the safety of the student hostels in the University of Jos. And while the cynics amongst us can rightfully question the authenticity of my sources, refer to the story of Kuru karama on in which an Imam recounted how Christian youths beat a local pastor – to death or not, we do not know – when he tried to impress on them the virtue of tolerance.

What am I driving at here? Over the past few days there have been accusations and counter accusations which in my mind only serve to demonize our neighbours of the other faith inadvertently serving as crisis propaganda of sorts. We have forgotten that there are everyday heroes amongst us whose actions (and inaction in some cases) have exemplified the very virtues that we all are supposedly using the media to extol. Shouldn’t we cast these deeds in gold and have them serve as templates for action to those seeking to go beyond the hate? Should we not instead of demonizing ourselves highlight the great deeds that humans like us have exhibited in this present adversity? Should we not try to bring out the Jos crisis from the realm of strict group dynamics and interaction to that of personal interaction and propensities over which each of us has the capacity to control for the sake of peace in our respective domains? The situation in Jos is already becoming something of a leviathan to the country, what with states like Bauchi proposing to send away Plateau State citizens from their state; and I do not see it ending there.
Let us open our eyes and see that the devil is neither a Christian nor a Muslim nor yet the God they worship, but the hate in our hearts which reflects in our eyes and now increasingly in our deeds.

To those peace loving-people of Jos, everyday people amongst us who have through the hate shown virtue and neighbourliness, I urge to keep on in the path they have chosen and know that despite the seeming obscurity, we acknowledge their existence and praise their heroism. We must find common ground; we must live together, in peace. Old things have passed away, including partisanship and ethnicity and racism and nepotism and all the ills that could be perpetrated by or on a group of people.

Blessed are the peace makers for they shall see God!

Ehase Agyeno
Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital

  1. simi permalink
    January 29, 2012 5:09 pm

    I wonder if you carried out a research about the genesis of this crisis or how it started. I can not but wonder why you choose to be biased. You stated only how muslims were attack, how did the crisis begin? Who started it? May be when u answer these question you might have to write another post, this time with the intention of appling for peace and not being hypocritical about the issue.

  2. Riches permalink
    August 23, 2011 4:35 am

    Salim or watever u call urself, it will neva b well wt u 4 recounting rubbish stories. Wer we all re fasting nd praying 4 d return of peace in Jos, a city envied among all cities in nigeria. Despite all u say salim, D Almighty God will restore peace in Jos in no due time. Amen.

  3. Francis Didel permalink
    April 26, 2010 5:07 pm

    I went through most of the comments well meaning Nigerians who condemed dastartical act of killing in Jos and its environs. But let add my voice here. Let me tell that these crises is coming to an end. If you dont believe then come to Tudun Wada Christian and Muslem have resoled to live together nomatter what it takes. Now we are planning to invite both Christians and Musilem living in flash points like Nasarawa Gwum, Anguwan Rogo, Gangari, and many other places like that in Jos north before we move down towards Bukuru axis and other local governments. A thing Salim or what ever he call himself is basking in the euphoria loots and the eagerness of eliminating innocent lives. We’ve grown beyond that. My advice to people of his kind is to look ealsewhere for a genue source of lifelihood and enjoy the serenity of the sweet PLATEAU.

  4. Usman N Isah permalink
    April 2, 2010 2:37 am

    Pls what are the possible causes of this crisis?

  5. ISAH MOH'D permalink
    March 25, 2010 1:45 pm

    I just went through peoples comment and iam so delighted to know that allot of people are interested in what is going on in the great city of JOS. I given birth in jos, exactly 22yrs ago. to be kinded the problem in jos was caused by the hausa fulani settlers,as a result of their some people’s selfish desire for power in which they cannot fihgt for using legitimate means. I am not a bayersed person; but a person who is not happy with the massive masacre that is taking place in jos now. To be open; STATE OF EMERGENCY is what the hausa community in jos is looking for, may be that will give them the oppurtunity to take part in the plateau state gov.My sincere appeal is that we should live in peace with one another as we use to even b4 now. Let those wicked persons hidding under the umbrella of ISLAM to steal,kill and destroy people be judge for they are not true muslems.
    To the youths we should NOT allow ourselves to be used by these lawless people to achieve there dreams of destroying nigeria with our own ” BLOOD ”. May the almighty ALLAH bless nigeria

  6. femi permalink
    March 21, 2010 8:45 am

    i am shocked with salim’s comment. is that a way to broker peace. since you tow that line pls answer the following questions.
    1. how many of this crisis were started by xtians?
    2. how many of the people arrested have been punished?
    3. how many of the hausa/ fulani are been shipped by their sponsors to cause confusion in jos
    4. do you know that your people are only trying to make jos ungovernable to cause confusion?

    well let me assume that you don’t know the background of the problem in jos. so shut up!
    jos crisis or any other will come to an end if justice is put in place because the perpetrators are doing this for their selfish interest. look at this crisis beyond religion and you will get the answer. any crisis in the north is always turned to be religious. will all of us be muslims or xtians? let people settle their differnces amicably because their must always be differences.
    God must intervene.

  7. Jones permalink
    March 20, 2010 3:37 pm

    i have lived in jos for quite a long time as a matter of fact, i was born there. i think we dont have to stand tall when dealing with this issues, i have always known jos as a very peaceful place and the problem here is not just a christian and muslim affair but we all know how it started very long time ago even in the days of sir Ahmadu bello. The hausa man is very attracted to power and as well he tries to extend such character in jos but didn’t get to succeed because he was out of numbers so he decided to initiate the religion thing in other to gain massive support. i stand here to tell every muslim that in the nov 28 crisis yoruba and other ethnic muslims were killed by hausa muslims in other to extend its territory by bringing in hausa muslims from other states to fill those conquered spaces. but if we keep on blaming christians and muslims then their will never be a solution to this unrest so lets try to give peace its position in our communities if not then a day will come when what is happening presently will only be compared to an atom of what will happen. and to SALIM better learn how to remain in silence when reporting what you dont understand

  8. March 18, 2010 11:54 pm

    Thank you ehase emeka and john, the people of jos leaved together for a very long time be it a muslim or a christian or pagan when suddenly in 2001 a wowan tries to trespass across muslim @ prayer which is not right, when someone tries to stop her not knowing they planned to attack them. Then out of the blues a group of youths emerge from all corners with their weapons and started the killing this is what history has record and can never be forgotten. Lets view this crises in a more civilised way let the coroner be blamed all this indirect way of blaming a group will not solve the problem we muslims are peaceful people except when we are oppressed and forced to turnback and strike. We lists of places in plateu state where muslim men, wowen, young and old were murdered, where a masjid or mosque is used as a toilet by some christians i know someone will blame me for bias or one sided but that is the fact there’s a comment i saw in a newspaper made by a rev.panyang of (cocin church) who claims that muslims snatch their land so they will not giveup even on radio sometimes blaming army officers like saleh maina as the one who perpetrated the killings long as the the federal government of nigeria did refuse to impitch the governor of plateu state and and bring them to justice plateu will not know peace.

  9. Prince emeka permalink
    March 18, 2010 8:16 pm

    Pls let us resolve this problem in jos.let their be peace btween the christains and muslim.let christains before the throne of grace.(prayers).u can call me on this number 08137662980.thanks. God bless jos.

  10. March 15, 2010 11:53 am

    Dear Ehase,
    Thank you for your excellent contribution to the resentment of wanton killings in Jos and its surroundings. I add my voice of opposition to these killings have become a perennial embarrassment to the good people of Plateau and Nigeria in general.
    The one and only beloved State with her picturesque landscape and epitome of love welcoming to all people irrespective of their race and creed. Such beauty has been turn into violence and hatred that cannot be justified by whatever reasons under the sun; constructed as ethnic, religion, settlers, and non-settlers. Those stereotypical characterizations must be resisted by people of good consciences.
    The bloody imbroglio becomes more unfortunate as it happened around yet another impasse at the echelon of our national leadership. A rather frustrating insight to the sordid crisis is that, there has not been significant and articulate strategy to prevent its recurrence despite the historical evidences of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria, be it in Ife, Kano, Maiduguri too many to mention. Rather, the typical ‘fire brigade’ approach to douse the ‘inferno’ and perhaps initiate some repairs. I stand to be corrected.
    Can one imagine how the world would be if we only treat diseases e.g. malaria, without also working out its prevention? I would suggest, a thorough social engineering that should include appropriate education of the people in schools, churches, mosque, villages, cities in their languages that violence MUST be abhor. Differences can be negotiated peacefully while we remain in the common humanity.
    Ime John

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