Today makes it twenty years since unbridled carnage was let loose on Jos. The cycles of violence since then have taken several shapes. This includes and has equally been spurred by state repression. Law enforcement agents were once again all set to wreak violent havoc on young women and men in Jos this morning. These youth had taken it upon themselves to organize a memorial procession in memory of the dead and to urge the rebirth of peace and harmony based on justice.
Organized as the September Seven Movement, they mobilized in their hundreds for a peaceful procession. But the police dispersed them, scattering the wreaths they came to lay for the dead. These policemen were seen drinking alcohol and smoking for hours before the procession was to commence.
They were acting on the order of the Plateau state government. The stage had been set with a press statement issued by Mr Dan Manjang, the state’s commissioner information yesterday evening. In it, he warned that “security agents have been placed on red alert to rise up to the challenge by arresting anyone who violates this directive.”
Is it young people who want to remember the dead that a serious state should be putting security agents on the alert for or bandits who have been having a field day in the same state; killing, maiming, and looting poor people?! Should the Plateau state government itself not be marking this historical day and filling it with hope for the rebirth of peace and harmonious social life in the state? CORE salutes the gallant youths of Jos and other communities on the Plateau.
The Plateau government’s response reflects the traditional pedestrian approach of the ruling class in Nigeria to a life and death issue which is equally reflected in their cynical manipulation of ethnic and religious sentiments. This is what has led to this situation of an endless cycle of violence and bloodletting.
The recent upsurge in herders/farming communities’ clashes, nationally has played out in a more gory and horrifying way on the Plateau with many communities suffering permanent displacement from their homes while hundreds of thousands of people are reduced to penury.
The youth’s attempt to draw attention to this situation and demand more concerted action by the government to rein in the criminal perpetrators of violence on all sides is the least we should expect. CORE therefore not only expresses unreserved support for the youth agitation but indeed calls on the state government to direct its attention and focus on resolving this festering crisis.
Thus, in the strongest of terms, we condemn the state government’s violation of the youth’s fundamental rights to organize, and freedom of assembly as enshrined in the constitution. We call on trade unions, civil society organizations, associations, and all bodies in Plateau state, Nigeria, and across the world who stand for peace and justice to raise their voices and stand up against state repression in Plateau state and across the country.
This state of siege on the populace must be stopped. A state which finds itself unable to stop reactionary insurgency and bandits but flexes its muscles against unarmed people and disperses peaceful protests is terminally ill. Our struggle for system change must thus be taken up with more vigor, as we, the oppressed masses, fight for our total liberation
Baba Aye Gbenga Komolafe