News / Africa

Governor of Nigeria's Violence-Wracked State Blames Army for Inaction

As tension mounts in central Nigerian villages after Sunday's bloodshed in three mostly Christian villages, the state governor says the army could have prevented the attack if it had responded to warnings of the raid.  
 
Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang says the army failed to act, despite intelligence suggesting an attack was imminent.  He spoke of how his personal effort to galvanize the troops into action yielded very little.

"I received a report at about 9 p.m. [Saturday night] that some movements of some people with arms were seen around those villages, and I reported to the commander of the army.  And he told me he was going to move some troops there," he said. "Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they have started burning the villages and people were being hacked to death.  And I started trying to locate the commanders; I could not get any of them on the telephone."

Governor Jang, a retired senior air force officer, regretted that state governors in Nigeria have little control over security forces, and yet are deemed to be in charge of security in their states.

"You are the chief security officer of the state yet you do not command even a fly," he said. "What do you use to stop anything?  The security people must have to double up their efforts, particularly the army that said they are now taking over the security of Plateau State because the police is unable to cope.  So I expect that the army should live up to expectation and stop the carnage in Plateau state.  If they cannot, then they should as well get out of the place."

The city of Jos has been under a dusk-to-dawn curfew enforced by the military since a similar crisis in January led to the death of more than 300 persons and thousands were displaced.  It is not clear how the attackers managed to elude the military curfew early Sunday.

Officials said more than 500 people from the mainly Christian Berom ethnic group were hacked to death by a Muslim clan in three villages early Sunday.  Thousands have been killed in recent years in Jos, located 350 kilometers northeast of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Already, some Berom gangs have vowed reprisal against the killers, adding to tension in villages in and around Jos.

Nigeria's acting President Goodluck Jonathan sacked the country's national security adviser on Monday.  The West African country is almost evenly divided between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south.  

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