Plateau: Living in the shadow of fear

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
May 24th, 2014
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A calm atmosphere prevails in Jos after the twin blast of last Tuesday, but the people are living in serious apprehension and tension due to rumours and fear of motor vehicles, YUSUFU AMINU IDEGU reports.

Jos, the Plateau State capital was unusually calm days after the twin bomb blasts that led to the death over one hundred people last Tuesday. There was no violent reaction from any sections of the state as a result of the incident. This is an exceptional case because in all such cases in the past, the city witnessed days of continuous carnage perpetrated by youths in the name of reprisal.

But last Tuesday’s twin bomb explosion which occurred in a market in Jos central area could not be attributed to any religious group most especially as victims of the blast cut across all ethnic and regions divides in the city unlike other bomb explosions in the past like that of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Some aggrieved sections of the state actually waited for the next day to confirm the extent of casualties before reacting. The Christian community and its Muslim counterpart waited to know if there are more Christian victims than Muslim or vice versa. The adherents of both religions went round hospitals and mortuaries around the city to discover that everyone is in deep grief.

Equal losses

A sympathizer at one of the hospitals Mr. Samson Auta said, “It was actually suspected that such attacks are the handiwork of Boko Haram sect, which is suspected to be a child of Islamic religion. But the situation at the mortuary now is that there are good numbers of Christian victims and Muslim victims among the dead. So it will be difficult for anyone to think of reprisal.”

At the morgue of the Plateau Specialists Hospital, several Muslim families came in search of their missing relations. So also the Christian families; children were searching for body of their mothers, husbands were looking for their missing wives, friends, class mates were looking for their loved ones and so on.

In this scenario, rather than anyone thinking of reprisal, both religious adherents were united in grief, they became united in the prevailing gloomy mood of the moment. In spite of the mutual suspicion among both religions, they were emotionally moved to console one another at the mortuary. When someone broke down on discovering the body of loved ones, other around will gather to console the other.

At the morgue of Plateau Specialists Hospital, the first vehicle that came to pick an identified body was a Muslim van. As they picked some from there, they were heading to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) to pick another one.

In this obvious circumstance of mutual grief, the idea of indicting the other as source of the attack became weak and baseless. This made the city calm after the incidence, all the fears around town of possible outbreak of violence never happened.

But not to take anything for granted, security was beefed up by security agencies. Armed police and soldier were promptly deployed to all the nooks and crannies of the city to forestall any outbreak of violence. There was serious security surveillance at indentified volatile sections of the city so as not to be taken unawares.

Dousing the tension

Leaders of both religions also became sensitive and cautious; they warned their youths against participating in any form of violence as a result of the blasts. The Nigerian Aid Group of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) moved as fast as possible to issue statement warning against violence, so also the state branch of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

Lawal Ishaq, state secretary of the Muslim group said in a statement, “The Nigerian Aid Group of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Plateau state branch was shocked by the unfortunate twin bomb blast at terminus market, Jos. The organisation condemns this dastardly act and reiterates its position that whoever is behind such act should be enemy of humanity. Surely God in His infinite mercy will visit His wrath on every single evil doer both here and hereafter.

“We seize this opportunity to condole those that lost their loved ones and pray for the quick recovery of those involved. In the same vein, youths in all parts of Jos are enjoined to exercise restraint and desist from blocking roads and harassing innocent passersby in the name of reprisals. Surely whoever is behind these bomb blasts is a common enemy of all irrespective of faith or ethnic background.”

In the same vein, the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in a statement said, “The state chapter condemns unequivocally the twin bomb blasts that killed many traders mostly women, dozens of commuters and others at Terminus, a busy market in Jos.

“This mindless, heinous and unwarranted wickedness against innocent lives that have been cut short in another unexplainable orgy of bloodletting cannot be allowed to continue. Security agencies should go extra mile to bring those behind this dastardly act justice and beef ip surveillance around busy areas in the city.

“The state officials of CAN have gone round the hospitals and mortuaries in Jos where the victims are receiving treatment. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the families that have lost loved ones as well as those injured. You are not alone.”

The position of leaders of both religions went a long way in dousing tension and discouraging any violent move against the other. At the end of it all, it was calm everywhere in the volatile city.

However, as religious leaders and security teamed up to prevent post-explosion violence, they could not prevent the spate of rumour been peddled around the city. Almost every other car on the streets of Jos are been suspected to be explosive-bearing car. This fear is obvious because, the twin explosions were planted in vehicles which were abandoned by those that brought them before the explosions.

Since then, the fear of abandoned vehicles in the city has become the new wisdom. Any car seen parked at the road side for 30 minutes without the owner there will be forced people within the neighborhood to invite the police. Several of such cases have continued to cause unnecessary chaos, apprehension and tension in the city since the last Tuesday’s blast.

Though there is calm after the blast but citizens are not moving freely as usual as a result of the fears and suspicions all over the city.

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