Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nigerian Christians Allege Genocide, Army Denies Bias in Jos

Monday, January 25, 2010

Christians allege genocide, Army denies bias in Jos

From Isa Abdulsalami (Jos) and Mohammed Abubakar (Abuja)
Nigerian Guardian

ALLEGATIONS of bias by the military authorities in the deployment of troops in Jos, Plateau State have been refuted by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Armoured Division, Maj-Gen. Saleh Maina.

Through his Public Relations Officer, Lt. Col. Galadima Shekari, the Army boss said yesterday that it was not true that soldiers from a particular religion were deployed in the crisis-torn state.

He said: "You cannot but get such negative insinuations because every Nigerian will want us to deploy troops in front of his house. There is nothing like bias. We are the last hope of the people of this country and we cannot afford to be biased."

Also yesterday, a clarification came from the Army on the role of the police in the ongoing efforts to return law and order to the state.

In a statement, the military authorities in Jos, denied allegations that the police had been withdrawn from the patrol of the streets and roads in the entire state.

The Plateau State Christian Elders Consultative Forum, had yesterday accused Maina of genocide. The group alleged that Maina deployed only Moslem soldiers in Jos, who allegedly carried out acts of genocide.

It therefore urged Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly and the United Nations (UN) to investigate Maina for genocide.

On the alleged exclusion of the police in the peace operations, the Army said there were misinterpretation of a statement from a press conference held last Friday by Maina, where he said the Army had taken over internal security operations from the police following the breach of peace in some parts of Jos.

The Army, in a statement signed by Brig. Gen. Donald Orji on behalf of the GOC, said the police were at no time directed to withdraw from their regular duties in the state.

He explained that why the Army is in charge of the operations, the police are to offer assistance to the military and their participation co-ordinated by the military.

According to him, the commissioner of police will continue to deploy his officers and men in line for their regular duties and assured that no policemen or military personnel would be sent out without arms. Orji ordered police, military and other securities agents not on duty to respect the curfew hours.

As part of his peace initiative, Governor Jonah Jang, will today meet with more stakeholders in the state. Expected at the talks are former governors of the state, and their deputies, serving and former members of the National Assembly, present and former ministers, current and former principal officers of the state legislature, senior retired military, police and para-military officers.

Others are former ambassadors and all chairmen of political parties, former secretaries to the state government and erstwhile head of service.

The meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Main Conference Hall, Governor's Officer, Rayfield.

A statement by the Director of Press and Public Affairs, Mr. James Mannok, said the meeting was a continuation of the governor's interactions with interest groups in the state towards sustaining and building on the peace process.

Also, the state government has brought succour to the displaced corps members by presenting relief materials to the State Director of the NYSC, Nurudeen Baba Ahmed, for distribution to them.

Chairman of the Relief Material Sub-Committee and Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Sarah Yusuf, who presented the items to Ahmed, assured that the government would ensure the safety of corps members in the state.

Also, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Zone E from Bauchi State, has donated relief materials to the state government for distribution to the displaced persons. UNICEF Warehouse Assistant, Ajia Thomas, made the donation to the chairman of the State Relief Committee at Joseph Gomwalk Secretariat, Jos.

The displaced persons are in 40 camps across the state.

Meanwhile, Police Command has said its helicopters will begin patrol of Jos and the surrounding settlements. In a statement signed by Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mohammed Lerama, the police advised residents to remain calm and law-abiding.

The Christian leaders, who said Maina must face charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice, demanded a joint patrol of the police and the military as against "the only military patrol currently being organised by the power-hungry Maj.-Gen. Maina in the interest of national security."

In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, Bishop Andersen Bok, national co-ordinator and Dr. Musa Pam, secretary-general of the forum, opposed an all-military patrol.

"We want Maj.-Gen. Maina to face charges of genocide over Jos. We acknowledge the semblance of peace returning to Jos after a week of killing and mayhem but reject the efforts to militarise the state by withdrawing the police and imposing the Army.

"Only last week, we raised alarm over the activities of the soldiers in Jos under the watchful eyes and command of a man who was an aide to former head of state, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and now the General Commanding Officer (GOC), 3 Armoured Division in Jos, Maj. Gen Saleh Maina.

"For whatever hidden agenda, Maina has used his official position to organise the killing of Christians in this latest crisis in Jos. Instead of Maina mixing Christian soldiers with their Muslim counterparts in each patrol team, he has chosen to select only Muslim troops in patrol teams with the sole aim of carrying out a jihad.

"These all-Muslim patrol teams are killing our people everyday. Last Saturday, a young boy was gunned down in front of his father's house by members of this all-Muslim army patrol team in Tundun Wada, Jos, without any reason at about 6 p.m. These vengeful actions of the Muslim soldiers may spark fresh violence in Plateau State.

"We hereby call on Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly and UN to investigate Maj.-Gen. Maina and let him face charges of genocide in an International Court of Justice. We also call for a joint patrol of police and military as against the only-military patrols currently organised by the power-hungry Maj.-Gen. Maina in the interest of national security," Bok said.

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