Again, 10 Feared Dead, Houses Burnt as Jos Violence Escalates

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Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

At least 10 more persons were feared killed as the recent violence in Jos, the Plateau State capital, continued to escalate to other parts of the city yesterday.

This is even as several houses and vehicles were burnt by some irate youths to avenge the killings of their kinsmen.

Following the development, two socio-political groups in Plateau State, Miango Youths Development Association (MYDA) and Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO), have demanded an investigation into the allegation that fake soldiers took over the streets and perpetrated the killings.

Violence had erupted in Jos on Friday following the killing of 11 persons by some unknown gunmen at Rukuba road in Jos North Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

The riot however, turned ethnic and religious on Sunday, leading to an attack on a church and counter attack, which resulted in more deaths.

While the security agents battled to control the violence, it was however, gathered that the situation took a frightening dimension between Monday and yesterday when some people suspected to be fake soldiers in military uniform invaded Tina Junction, Dutse-uku and Nasarawa-Gwom communities and opened fire at the residents, some of whom were keeping vigil over their communities.

The fake military men reportedly shot indiscriminately at the people and set houses ablaze at random, holding the community hostage for close to two hours before the arrival of the real security agencies, which later repelled them.

It was also gathered that the situation got worse in the early hours of yesterday, when some Hausa/Fulani youths and the natives squared it up in areas like Rikkos, Dogon Dutse, Yan Shanu, Nasarawa-Gwom and burnt several more houses, including other places of worship.

A community leader in the area, Mishkaham Mupum of Nasarawa Gwom, Mr. Samuel Dawam, became a victim of the fake soldiers, who killed him in his house.

The Police have ordered that residents of these communities to remain indoors for 24 hours, while the city centre, especially the commercial area of Ahmadu Bello way is also deserted and commercial activities crumbled.

Consequently, two socio-political groups in Plateau State, Miango Youths Development Association (MYDA) and Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO), have demanded an investigation into the allegation that fake soldiers have taken over the streets and perpetrating the killings.

Spokesman of MYDA, Lawrence Zongo, alleged that residents no longer have trust and confidence in soldiers.

He alleged that, “Nigerian soldiers are killing innocent citizens; they may be fake or real, claiming that they are for peace keeping. This is too bad, Nigerian Army are colluding with the criminals and terrorist to kill natives of Plateau. We can’t trust them, their peace enforcement is one sided, favouring terrorists and criminals killing our people daily.

“Soldiers don’t kill criminals any more but kill innocent citizens and allow them (the killers) go free. From last year to date no fewer than 40 people have been killed by people suspected to be Nigerian soldiers.”

Also speaking, the spokesman of BECO, Mr. Sam Godons demanded an investigation into the allegation that soldiers were involved in the killings.

He said, “We need government to get to the bottom of this, if they are fake or real soldiers, let the government unravel this thing. The government is well equipped with machinery and has the power to get to the root of this.

“But why has it not been so? This allegation of fake soldiers has been on for a decade or more, but we don’t know why the government is quiet about it. Who else would confirm whether they are fake or real soldiers?”

Media Officer of the Special task force (STF), Major Umar Adam confirmed the renewed hostility in some parts of the state capital but declined comment on the number deaths and houses burnt. He also debunked the allegation that soldiers shot at the civilians.

Adam said, “I know some people were killed and houses burnt but the figures are yet to be ascertained. We don’t work with speculation. All I can tell you for now is that all the areas you mentioned are under control and our men are on top of the situation. When the figures are ready we would call you and brief you accordingly, but for now normalcy has returned to the affected areas.”

The Commander of STF, Maj. General Augustine Agundu, also dismissed the allegation that soldiers killed during the riot.

He said, “Nigerian Armed Forces are professional Armed Forces. It is you that don’t believe in the Armed Forces that you have.”