By Ralph Madugu
The Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives (PIDAN), the umbrella body of all the 56 autochthones in the state, has demanded for justice, fairness and equity from both the federal and Plateau State governments and their security agencies in handling all cases of attacks on local communities.
It has also called for a quick assessment of cases of all those in Police custody without incriminating evidence be promptly released while those found guilty be charged to court for fair hearing and early adjudication of their cases.
In a 12-page document titled “The Plateau Killings and the need to keep the Public informed,” signed its President, Prof. Madaki JKA and Secretary-General, Comrade Gujor Nanle, and made available to Today’s Challenge, PIDAN also called on the Federal Government to strengthen security around the University of Jos and its environs so as restore confidence of the public in keeping their wards in the institution.
Lending its voice to the clamour for the establishment of a Mobile Police outstation close to the University in the wake of recent happenings around the institution, PIDAN said, “We call on the Federal Government to strengthen security around the University of Jos and its environs so as restore confidence of the public in keeping their wards in the University.
“We specially wish to request that a Mobile Police outstation be established adjacent the Student Village Hostel gate to provide security to the Student Village Hostel in particular and the University Community in general.
“Also, the Federal Government should provide special intervention funding similar to what was done to Moddibo Adama University Yola to enable the University of Jos to complete the fencing of its land.”
PIDAN while reminding all interest groups especially those claiming to represent Arewa interest to understand that Plateau is equally in the northern part of the Country, it however, warned that PIDAN will “not take kindly to people calling us names and issuing threats to the Plateau autochthones,” adding that PIDAN is “very much aware of their hidden agenda which is inimical to the Plateau heritage and the collective interest of the autochthones.”
“Anybody who mean well for Plateau State will definitely accord the autochthones respect for their heritage and Political autonomy.
“We wish to let the Northern oligarchy and Arewa interest groups know that we have never denied the fact that we are part of the North. Our struggle has been to maintain our cherished heritage and political autonomy and to exist as autonomous partners and not to be subservient to anybody or group.
“This has been the position of our forefathers and founders of Plateau and has remained non-negotiable. We hope you will respect our position and work with us as equal partners towards achieving the much-needed peace and development in the North.”
Making a case for displaced communities in the state, PIDAN said “We are also calling on the governments at both Federal and State Levels to relocate all the internally displaced persons in the LGAs of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos and Jos-South to their ancestral land and provide adequate security.”
On what the it tagged as “Genocide in the face of official manipulation and deception,” PIDAN stated that without any equivocation, “in the face of the massive killings and destruction of the livelihood of our people, the OPSH has been of very little help in most cases,” adding that the situation has been a case of “total abandonment of our people at the mercy of a deadly gang of foreign and local Fulani militia.”
According to the umbrella body of the 56 autochthones of Plateau, it is most disheartening to note that what is gradually and steadily consuming the whole of Plateau State has been “whimsically reduced into a deceptive gimmick of farmers-herders clashes by the Government and is being bandied out line, hook and sinker, by the mainstream media.”
On what it opined as Remote factors to the hatred and killings, PIDAN explained that Plateau has, at best, had a “hostile and unfriendly relationship with the Muslims North characterized by an unrelenting culture of deception and manipulation, from time immemorial.”
It recalled that the 1804 Jihad of Uthman Dan Fodio in Sokoto and its subsequent spread, “like a winter wild fire, across the northern part of Nigeria, met a decisive waterloo in Jos, at the famous Naraguta war of 1873,” PIDAN added that the present autochthonous ethnic groups of the Jos Plateau inflicted “a crushing defeat on the Jihadists.”
“Since then, the relationship between the northern oligarchy and Plateau autochthones has never been cordial.
“Over the years, technocrats of Hausa-Fulani extraction are known to have taken undue advantage of their positions in the Federal Government, to advance the scope and entrenched communal mistrust, suspicion and hostilities, between their settler kith and kin in Jos and the indigenes also known as autochthones.
“The flagrant abuse of the Federal Character principle culminating in the appointment of one Muktar Mohammed in June 2001, a native of Borno State, to head the Poverty Alleviation Program in Jos-North Local Government, the appointment of one Sanusi Mato, a Katsina indigene, as Sole Administrator of the same Jos Local Government, in April 1994 by the Mohammed Maina’s administration as vividly captured in the Fibiresima Commission report, 1994 heralded the outbreaks of violence and killings in on the Plateau.
“These few examples have deliberately not captured the generous patronage extended to residents of Jos, of Hausa-Fulani extraction, by their kith and kin in the Federal Government, in terms of lucrative job offers and contract placements, as well as the frustration meted out to Plateau indigenes in the Federal Service, by the same group,” PIDAN stressed.
PIDAN maintained that Plateau has become a home to all ethnic nationalities across Nigeria on account of the “receptive and accommodative character” adding that “To date, it is on record that none of the non-indigenes who have had to suffer losses in lives and properties in Jos during crises, did so in the hands of the autochthones.
“We state with every sense of pride that at the outbreak of hostilities in 1966, preparatory to the outbreak of the civil war, many fleeing Igbos in Jos handed over their landed properties to indigenes, while some did same to their Hausa-Fulani friends.
“At the end of the war, most of those who entrusted their properties to indigenes, got them back, some with the rents collected during the war period. Let the Igbos tell the World how many of them got back their landed properties, especially those along Bauchi road Jos or even in other parts of their neighbouring South-South states.”
Going down memory lane, PIDAN posited that the Hausa-Fulani were not the first non-indigenous ethnic nationality to step into the Plateau.
Said PIDAN: “In 1902, Col. H. W. Laws, a mining Engineer, was sent into the Jos Plateau by the Royal Niger Company, to further explore the possibilities of commercial mining in the Jos Plateau sub region. He came along with porters, made up primarily of Niger Delta indigenes and a detachment of soldiers, of Yoruba extraction.
“This explains the very strong affiliation between the people of Jos and these non-indigenous nationalities. It was after the colonial conquest of the indigenous ethnic groups and the restoration of pax Britanica, and with the development of the tin mining industry, that the Hausa mining labourers started coming into the Jos mines region.
“Surprisingly, it is the latter group that has constituted itself into the veritable agent provocateur by turning Jos and Plateau State in general, into a killing field today. This is because the Hausa-Fulani seem to have vowed to make Jos and indeed, the entire State ungovernable, unless they are accorded the status of indigenes and subsequently made to install an Emir in Jos.”
On what it tagged as “Contemporary trends of insecurity and the evolution of terrorism in the State,” PIDAN asserted that prior to the bloody riot of the 7th September, 2001, all the demonstrations that took place in Jos were limited largely to the city and usually nipped within a day.
“Also worth noting is the low casualty, involving injuries with no loss of lives, due largely to the use of crude instruments as sticks, cutlasses and cudgels. All this however, changed completely in 2001, as the cause of this outing was fierce and religious, involving the use of very sophisticated and deadly weapons by the aggressors from 7-13th September leaving approximately 1000 deaths and displacing at least 50,000 civilians as captured by the Human Rights Watch report 2001.
“The November 2008 outing following the Local Government election however, remains the baseline in lethality, viciousness and large-scale devastation, and indeed, a prelude to what was to come. This was not a demonstration but a well-planned and strategically implemented warfare, in contrast to previous episodes and claimed over 700 lives as captured in Human Rights Watch report 2009.”