Jos Crisis 2008 – Ajibola Panel Report – Exonerates Jang: WHAT AN IRONY!

Jos — The commission of inquiry led by former Attorney General of the Federation Prince Bola Ajibola which was set up by the Plateau State Government to investigate the Jos crisis of November 2008 has blamed elements of the Hausa Fulani Muslim community for initiating acts of violence that led to the crisis.

The commission's report, submitted to Governor David Jonah Jang four months ago, was obtained by the Press at the weekend. …

The Ajibola panel said in its 339-page report that "despite the coincidence of time, the local government election of 2008 was not the immediate cause of the unrest but the feeling that the Hausa Fulani had lost the election and had by that token lost access to one of the major opportunities for economic domination and advancement amongst their people, which pushed them to violence."

The commission recommended that major Hausa Fulani settlements in Jos should be acquired by the Plateau State government. The settlements which the commission suggested should be acquired by the state government include Gangere, Yan Tinka, Rikkos cattle market (Yan Shanu), Angwan Rogo, Angwan Rimi, Angwan Dalyop, Katako, parts of Ali Kazure and Dilimi. The panel advised the state government to create a modern city out of the settlements after the acquisition by constructing urban access roads through these settlements and opening up the slums with the provision of roads, housing estates, clinics and modern schools.

The Ajibola Commission also recommended that the police be made to investigate the activities of some prominent persons in the state, including former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, Alhaji Saleh Hassan, Sheik Yahaya Jengre, as well as former Minister of State for Information and Communications Alhaji Dasuki Ibrahim Nakande.

The commission recommended that Nakande and House of Representatives member representing Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency Malam Samaila Mohammed, among others, be thoroughly investigated by the police, saying their utterances before and after the crisis were capable of igniting more crises in the future.

The Ajibola commission also said it was not satisfied by the explanations of former President Ibrahim Babangida that he did not create Jos North local government to favour a particular group. The commission said it found out that the former President created Jos North local government in 1991 to favour the Hausa Fulani of Jos North as it was the Hausa Fulani community that demanded for the local government in the form in which it was created.

The Prince Bola Ajibola commission however absolved Plateau State governor Jonah Jang of any complicity in the 2008 crisis. It said "there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation that the governor in a statement gave a shoot-on-sight order" during the crisis, after which security agents were alleged to have killed so many residents.

However, the report advised the state government to readily take on security advice "as in the recent instance, when the scheduling of the elections for Thursday was advised against because it would mean that the results would be announced on a Friday, a Muslim worship day, with possible religion-inflamed consequences."

The commission in its final report also recommended that the state government reacquires the University of Jos land and hand over same to the university authority to fence and develop for its use. It said "over time some persons have acquired some parcels or portions of the University of Jos land by tribal sentiments, wrong issuance of Right of Occupancy and other titles including numerous illegal sales and purchases with the active cooperation of the Federal Government."

The commission also recommended that the Plateau State government should, after investigating individual culprits, set up a reconciliation commission for the purpose of allowing adversaries meet and to reconcile their differences. It said "those among them that come out and embrace the peace process should be granted amnesty from criminal prosecution" while the state government should investigate those who do not embrace the reconciliation commission.

The commission also recommended that the present Jos North Local Government be re-delineated into three sustainable local governments with an equitable representative number of wards within each local government, while "the state government should give due consideration to all ethnic groupings in appointments, nominations and promotions within the state."

In addition, it recommended that the state government should promote inclusion and participation through a 'State Character' principle similar to the Federal Character policy of the federal government, "as this would take into consideration citizen's right in any part of Nigeria that they may find themselves.

"This means that all persons who are bona fide citizens should have equal rights, opportunities and access and not to deny those designated as non indigenes of an area the access to some of the most important avenues of socio economic mobility be it government jobs, academic scholarships, university admission or fees."

The commission said it received claims of property destroyed totalling more than N43 billion while 4,815 structures as well as 167 cars were claimed to have been damaged during the unrest. It also said the actual number of persons who lost their lives in the 2008 Jos unrest stands at 312 as it could not verify claims by Human Rights Watch that the Muslim community recorded 632 deaths. The commission however agreed that the Muslim community "suffered massive casualties."

It would be recalled that the Hausa Fulani Muslim community had boycotted the activities of the Prince Bola Ajibola commission of inquiry into the November 2008 Jos crisis. It said Governor Jonah Jang, who set up the commission, was an interested party in the crisis and cannot be expected to set up an impartial commission of inquiry.

Jos, Feb 16, 2010. The contents of the report submitted by the Prince Bola Ajibola-led Judicial Panel of inquiry that investigated the 2008 Jos crisis to the Plateau State Government has vindicated its earlier stance that the panel was only set up to do a hatchet job, the Hausa Community in Jos said yesterday.

The 339 page report had indicted the Hausa Fulani community in Jos for the 2008 crisis while exonerating the state governor, Jonah Jang of complicity in the crisis. Spokesman of the Hausa Fulani community in Jos Alhaji Sani Mudi stated this yesterday when he visited Daily Trust Jos office to react to the report.

He said, "We were not surprised when the report indicted our community over the crises, because the panel acted according to the wishes and aspirations of the government, that was the reason why we said we will not participate in the panel." Alhaji Sani Mudi said the way the report recommended that government should balkanize the state and acquire mainly Hausa settlements in Jos for development purposes clearly shows the Plateau government's intention to ethnically cleanse Jos of the Hausa community in the name of development. He said it was no coincidence that Governor Jang has been saying lately that he will implement the Jos Development Master Plan.

Mudi said it was unfortunate that a legal luminary of Bola Ajibola's standing will recommend segmenting a group of people and barring them from enjoying social amenities like has happened in Gaza and other parts of the world where some people were denied basic amenities because of their religion.

According to him, "peace will only return to Jos if the governor and his cohorts carry everyone along and change their thinking of inciting the public through provocative statements and start being fair to all." Also speaking, Secretary of the Ulama Elders Council Barrister Lawal Ishaq said what Ajibola recommended was a slap in the face of the Judiciary because the panel was aware that the people indicted by it, such as former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir and former Minister of State for Information and Communications Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande have gone to court to challenge their invitation to appear before the panel.

He said it is a slight on the judiciary because both the panel chairman and members were dully served while Ajibola acted without waiting for the decision of the court over the matter and went ahead and indicted them.

Efforts to get the reaction of the Plateau State government failed as the phone lines of both Information Commissioner Gregory Yenlong and the Special Adviser on Media Dan Manjang did not go through when our correspondent tried to reach them.

They however told the BBC in a report monitored by our correspondents that the state government is yet to release the report of the panel and that seeing it on the pages of newspapers was a surprise to them. They intend to investigate it, they said.

Manjang was quoted to have said that the report has not been deliberated on by the government, hence it does not reflect the position of the state government on the matter, while Yenlong said the state government would investigate how the report leaked to the press.

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