11 March 2010

Nigeria: Jos Crisis And the Imperative of an Emergency Rule


By the time you read this article, hopefully, a fresh "Panel of Enquiry" would have been set up to look into the "remote and immediate cause(s)" of the March 7 crisis in the Christian community of Dogo na Harwan in Jos South Local Council, and possibly decipher 'solutions to forestall future occurrences'.

Very appalling indeed that every now and then tax-payers money and perhaps their blood are been used to service successive panels of enquiry that remain fruitless at the end of the day, while the business of governance still goes on.

The incidence of violence is not new to Plateau State, but most of it had gone on without the perpetrators been brought to book or necessary measures done to avert future occurrences. But don't we think that a State of Emergency would be potent at this point in time to restore peace in Plateau State. It will be recalled that in May 2004, former president Olusegun Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau State over a sectarian crisis that led to the massacre of hundreds of Nigerian citizens in Yelwa. Though many may argue that that declaration did not restore total calm as expected, but it was evident that for the rest of that regime, no other major crisis was recorded - the emergency rule went a long way to instill sanity.

Accepted, declaration of emergency rule does not portend well for a democracy like ours, but do we fold our arms and wait for reports of panels of enquiry or rely on the incompetence of our police while citizens of this country are slaughtered at will in cold blood? No sacrifice can be deemed too much to pay to guarantee the safety and welfare of the citizenry, provided it does not circumvent the rule of law. The number of casualties that are recorded after each skirmish lays credence to the fact that stringent measures, like the declaration of emergency rule are required to put an end to these dastardly acts.

In just three years, the Governor, Jonah Jang has set an infamous record for the highest record of religious crisis in so short a time. But the explanation is not far-fetched; Governor Jang has proved his incompetence in efficiently coordinating the affairs of Plateau. A first occurrence can be waved aside an accident. A second one can be viewed as a coincidence. But for a third, one must be suspicious of the biblical hand of Esau in it. Since Jang has shown weakness and lack of authority in assuring his people of security, then he should resign immediately or be forced out. Let it be stated here that this is not all about bringing the Jang administration to disrepute, but the welfare of the citizenry should be placed above politics. Governor Jang has failed to draw a line between politics and governance.

Also the different crisis in Plateau State has further exposed the failure in our security system. One wonders how these crises are usually planned and executed in the presence of our security system. The nation was still commiserating with the victims of the January mayhem in Jos North, when she came face to face with a fresh attack. This goes to show the dearth of reliable intelligence reports in our security system.

To cut a long story short, a state of emergency should be declared in Plateau State. This may sound unfair, as it will deprive the people of Plateau State their democratic structures once again, for some time. But we should know that the lives and property of the people are at stake. The perpetrators of these dastardly acts would stop at nothing to achieve their inordinate aims, so lets stop at nothing to stop them.

Nnamdi Alozie Evan Enwerem University, Owerri.

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