Muslim communities in the crisis ridden Jos North local government area of Plateau state Sunday rose from a stakeholders’ meeting with a promise to give necessary cover to churches in their areas.
They said the decision became imperative as stakeholders had realised some politicians were using religion to achieve their selfish ends.
The meeting was an aftermath of the killing of some Muslim faithful of Ondo state origin returning from Bauchi state where they had gone to attend an Islamic function, but attacked in Jos by some miscreants.
Also last Friday, the state’s deputy governor, Mr Sunny Tyoden, led a high-power delegation to Ondo state where they handed over 49 survivors of the attack, and also sought for forgiveness from the Ondo people.
In a communiqué after the peace parley at the conference hall of Jos Central Mosque, the meeting called for peace and resolved to support efforts at achieving a return to normalcy in the state.
The meeting was at the instance of Jasawa Community Development Association (JCDA), an umbrella body of Hausa and Fulani Muslims of Jos.
Addressing journalists after the parley, JCDA National President Shehu Ibrahim Masallah said this became necessary following the recent killing of some 28 travellers around Gada-biyu-Rukuba Road.
In a nine-point communiqué read by its national secretary, Alhaji Aminu Mato, the meeting agreed to protect all churches in the area.
He said: “We have resolved to protect all Churches within Muslim communities. It is our resolve that nobody should, should destroy, burn or vandalise any church within us. This is so because we have realized that some politicians are using this kind of opportunity to achieve their surreptitious objectives knowing full well that religion is very sensitive.
“This will go a long way to preventing further occurrence of crisis in Jos and its environs. We have equally resolved that vigilante groups within our domains will work and assist the security agencies to ensure peace and harmony within Jos and its environs and agreed that anybody caught attacking innocent citizens or causing trouble will be handed over to the security agencies.”
The communiqué further urged the state government to be proactive before a crisis escalates in any community and ensure justice for the aggrieved.
“We urge parents to ensure adequate and proper monitoring of their children and ward’s. We all resolved that the issues of school dropouts amongst our youths and jobless amongst them will be looked into aim at reducing the menace of criminality.
“We will liaise with the necessary agency of government to also ensure rehabilitation of those youths that engaged themselves into illicit drugs,” the communiqué further stated.
In attendance at the parley were religious and community leaders within and outside Jos, as well as other stakeholders.
Ogun evacuates students
In a related development, amidst the rising threat to lives and property in Plateau state, the Ogun state government has evacuated University of Jos (UNIJOS) students who are of the state origin.
The killing of scores of travellers, including four students with many injured in Jos by suspected hoodlums, forced UNIJOS management to suspend the ongoing second-semester examination for the 2019/2020 academic session.
Special Assistant to the governor on students’ affairs, Mr Azeez Adeyemi announced this while speaking to journalists in Abeokuta Sunday.
Adeyemi said Governor Dapo Abiodun provided five buses and security escorts to ensure the safe return of the stranded students.
He said the evacuation was carried out in conjunction with relevant stakeholders including security agencies, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS).
“In line with the policy of Governor Dapo Abiodun on the protection of lives and property of every Ogun State indigene, the Governor has ordered the immediate evacuation of all the indigenes of the State studying in the University of Jos.
“This followed the crisis which erupted as a result of the killings of four students of the institution.
“We have provided five buses and security escorts to bring our children back home safely.
“No indigene of this State will be allowed to suffer or be abandoned irrespective of their political or religious affiliation. They are Ogun people and it is our duty to ensure their safety,” Adeyemi said.
Also speaking, NAOSS President Oluwagbemileke Ogunrombi said the state officials had already evacuated about 80 students and some corps members who are indigenes of the state from the trouble areas.
“We requested for two buses, but the state government magnanimously released five buses, not only buses but with a military escort. So, the students have been evacuated and taken to a safe haven.
“As at last time, we spoke with the team, about 80 students have been evacuated. Then, they said some Corp members are also joining them,” Ogunrombi said.
ASUU decries attacks
Meanwhile, the University of Jos chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the attacks and killing of students and members of the university community during most civil unrests in Jos.
UNIJOS ASUU Chairman Lazarus Maigoro said this in a statement Sunday in Jos.
Maigoro described the recent attacks on students of university as “sad and unfortunate.”
He said: “ASUU in University of Jos, with serious concern and sadness wishes to bring to the notice of the general public the recent developments in and around Jos and how it has impacted negatively on the University.
“We have suffered untold damages in relation to loss of lives and property, in addition to the regular suspension of academic activities each time there is a security breach in Jos and as a union, we have tried to understand how the university community is always at the receiving end of each crisis in Jos.
“In spite of all the provocations, we have continued to offer community service to all, irrespective of religion, culture and tribe; the university administration has over the years made overtures to host communities in terms of undergraduate admissions and staff employment, yet our students and staff are killed at the slightest provocation, however far the epicentre of the crisis from the institution.
“The University is a citadel of learning which houses various categories of people regardless of ethnic and religious affiliations, as such, should be spared anytime there is breach of security in other parts of Jos.
He also expressed worry that the suspension of academic activities and closure of the school would pose a serious setback to the students’ academic sojourn.
“The ongoing examinations have been suspended and the students are asked to go home thereby abruptly destabilising the semester and the academic session in general.
“This equally means longer stay in school for the students in the face of current harsh economic realities in the country.
”As teachers, our hearts go out to these students, particularly families who lost their loved ones.
“They are equally our children and no parent will want his child killed because he went to the University to acquire a degree.”
The ASUU leader called on the government and security agencies to intensify efforts and end the circle of violence in the state, particularly in the rural areas.
Maigoro further appealed to the government to deploy more security personnel to the university to ensure the safety of its staff and students.
He advised the government to compensate all those who suffered any loss during the recent attacks and ensure justice for the dead.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Acting Vice Chancellor of University, Gray Ejikeme, had confirmed the killing of a student of the university in the recent attacks in Jos, adding that investigations were ongoing to ascertain the real state of things.
Mr Ejikeme, however, promised to make available detailed information on the number of students killed and those injured during the recent attacks. (NAN)