Another day, and yet more violence in Jos.
News outlet are reporting that several hundred people have been killed in the city of Jos in Plateau State. The New York Times claims as many as 500 people have been killed – so far. Many of the victims are women and children and were murdered with machetes.
What is the Violence About?
Jos has been the scene of much violence recently. The violence is a mixture of religious clashes between Muslims and Christians, politics and the “settler” versus “indigence” dichotomy in Nigeria.
Settlers v Indigenes
Jos lies on Nigeria’s religious “fault line” between the mainly Muslim north and mainly Christian south. The city has a mixed ethnicity population. However there has been tension between settlers and indigenes. The indigenes are the mainly Christian Birom ethnic group and other Christian groups. The settlers are Hausa or Fulani Muslims, who migrated to Jos from further north.
Settlers have limited rights to state facilities such as education, scholarships, bank loans and employment. Being an indigene is a key that unlocks full entitlement to such benefits. Thus settlers are aggrieved because they feel excluded, and some indigenes regard settlers as encroaching on their land.
These differences are amplified by political disputes in Plateau State. The Plateau State Governor, Air Commodore (retired) Jonah David Jang, is a Birom Christian, and a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. His political rivals are the mainly Muslim All Nigeria People’s Party. Thus political rivalry in the state also takes on an ethnic and religious dimension.
Jos residents claim the latest violence was perpetrated by Fulani men who first fired shots to sow panic, then cut down fleeing residents with machetes.
Watch this space. Previous violence in Plateau State forced the federal government to depose the former Governor Joshua Dariye and impose a state of emergency in the state.