ON THIS DAY IN 2001, CRISIS SUDDENLY BROKE OUT IN JOS, PLATEAU STATE, NORTH-CENTRAL NIGERIA OVER POLITICAL DISAGREEMENT AND LATER SPIRALED INTO A CITY WIDE RELIGIOUS BLOODBATH THAT LED TO OVER 2000 DEATHS AND PROPERTY AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DAMAGE OF OVER 5BILLION NAIRA.
On this day in 2001, Jos, the capital City of Plateau State in North-Central Nigeria, became the scene of mass killing and destruction for the first time in recent history leaving over 2000 deaths with widespread looting including property and infrastructural damage of over 5billion naira.Tens of thousands were also displaced in less than one week.
The violence came to an end following massive military intervention on September 13, 2001. Violence suddenly erupted between Christians and Muslims in the Congo-Russia area of Jos-North local government area following a political disagreement.
Diverse communities had coexisted peacefully for over a hundred years and the City had prided itself on avoiding the inter-communal violence that had plagued neighboring states.
For over three months after the crisis, the inhabitants of Jos were still counting their dead and assessing the massive damage done to their homes and properties.
The violence in Jos coincided with the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington in the United States.
International coverage of the situation in Jos was inevitably overshadowed by these events. What little coverage there was prior to September 11 had tended to portray the violence in Jos as a religious conflict, with Christians and Muslims attacking each other because of their faith.
In reality, the conflict was more political and economic than religious. Opinions about who was primarily to blame for the outbreak of violence varied and were sometimes highly polarized.
However, all those interviewed by Human Rights Watch agreed on one conclusion: that the violence could have been foreseen but that government authorities failed to take action to prevent it. The Plateau State government adopted a passive attitude and appeared not to take seriously the numerous, explicit threats issued by both “indigenous” and “non-indigenous” groups in Jos in the weeks leading up to the crisis.
All those interviewed also deplored the lack of police presence and intervention during the crisis and the failure of the police to ensure protection and security for the population.
Eventually-but only after many lives had been lost-it was the military, not the police, who intervened to restore law and order.
Two commissions of inquiry were appointed by the federal government and the Plateau state government to investigate the cause of the crisis and both commissions began their investigations in November of 2001.
To this day no serious attention has been given to the outcome of the reports.
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