US urges Nigeria to act on Jos killings

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The United States of America has urged the Nigeria government to investigate the Jos killings and bring those involved to justice.

Media reports vary on the number of people killed in the villages of Zot and Dogo-Nahawa and neighbouring village of predominant Christian inhabitants. But many in the Nigerian media have reported that more than 350 people are said to have been killed in the crisis.

Hilary Clinton, US secretary of state said the Nigeria government must arrest and try the people that participated in the killings. Clinton who urged the Nigerian government to respect human rights said: “The Nigerian government should ensure that the perpetrators of acts of violence are brought to justice under the rule of law, and that human rights are respected as order is restored.”

The Nigerian acting president, Goodluck Jonathan has already fired his national security adviser, Sarki Mukhtar, whilst a curfew has been imposed in the villages, and armed police officers are patrolling the affected areas of the state.

The killings which were reported to be a revenge for the January crisis, where most of the victims are of the Hausa/Fulani clan, has brought unease to the state capital itself, Jos, and many traders and shops are forced to close down, bringing commercial activities to its knees. But reports also suggest calm has been restored as the military continue to mount surveillance.

Human Rights Watch has already written to the Nigerian government to place human rights as the cornerstone of its government and has written to the presidency to investigate the killings. “This kind of terrible violence has left thousands dead in Plateau State in the past decade, but no one has been held accountable. It’s time to draw a line in the sand. The authorities need to protect these communities, bring the perpetrators to book, and address the root causes of violence,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Nigeria is divided by ethnic and religious affiliation and Human Rights Watch said: “Non-indigenes are openly denied the right to compete for government jobs and academic scholarships. Members of the largely Muslim Hausa ethnic group are classified as non-indigenes in Jos and surrounding communities, though many have lived there for several generations.”

Human Rights Watch further urged “the Nigerian government to take concrete steps to end policies that discriminate against “non-indigenes” – people who cannot trace their ancestry to those said to be the original inhabitants of an area – which fuel tension and underlie many of these conflicts. The federal government should pass and enforce legislation prohibiting government discrimination against non-indigenes in all matters that are not purely cultural or related to traditional leadership institutions.”

However, the Plateau state police spokesman confirmed that about 98 people have been arrested. Mass burial has been conducted for the victims of the crisis.

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