Jos, The Abridged Truth No One Wants To Tell —Prince Charles Dickson


A Tarokh adage translates, a child lacks wisdom, and some say that what is important is that the child does not die; what kills more surely than lack of wisdom? (A foolish child is not much better than a dead child).

It’s almost becoming a ritual that I would write about Jos, almost twice a year and sadly not because of any good news, but for all the wrong reasons.

I am forced again to shed light on the recent killings in Jos, not because I want to, but because truth must be told and tomorrow, I want to stand out and say I did not keep mute. Writing or telling the Jos, Plateau story is a difficult one, emotions are high, sentiments cloudy but irrespective of all these the salient truth remains.

It is that truth that we run from that has continually hunted and will keep haunting us on the Plateau. I do not expect commendation from this short take, because truth has very few disciples, especially in this clime where the truth has taken leave of us.

Some weeks ago it started out with an attack on a Muslim sect that had gone to pray in a Christian dominated section of the city. They had been warned by locals in the area not too. Fact! They went…Fact! They were attacked and lives lost. Fact! A failure on the side of government and its security apparatus, and there are no excuses.

There is no justification for the loss of lives. When the recent crisis started the State governor is still away in India, doing what, very few know, but at least many know that he did not hand over to his deputy before he left owing to a to brewing rift between both men.

Thus, it took four days for the deputy governor to officially chair a security session, Meanwhile, it was tough with a new GOC and STF commander, the state government was at loss on how to tackle the crisis.

There were retaliatory attacks. I lost a friend on his way from Zaria, he was a good Muslim, he was not from Jos, Plateau, and he was on transit. Killed by hoodlums who do not know Christ, we had worked together recently on a project in Zaria.

On the Bauchi road axis, I lost another friend, in fact a soldier; he was in transit from Maidugiri, a good Christian, killed by some thugs just after supposed prayers on Friday.

In most Berom villages, it’s been a war against Fulani herdsmen, a conflict that has history dating back several decades with even some cases still in the law courts of cattle thefts and murder dating to the 70s.

Yet over the years it has taken religious colouration and in recent times, in these villages where killings take place, Igbos have been targeted with the killing only last month of a complete family in Barkin Ladi. Local bombs are now common thing and it’s only a question of which family next.

In the Jos city centre, I am sure very many do not know there is a British-America junction route taken only by Christians and the Bauchi, Zololo, Angwar Rogo axis viewed as Palestinian and manned by Muslims.

Christians and Muslims in Jos, live apart and may never live together at the rate we are going, as in recent times even indigenous Muslims have been targeted by native hoodlums, and Yoruba Muslims targeted by settling hoodlums.

I have used the term, natives and settlers on intent because it is part of the Jos problem, who owns the land? Like the western media has dissected us to Muslim North and Christian South, in Jos, apart from being second only to Adamawa in terms of languages and ethnic groups have taken same road.

There are Beroms vs Hausas, Christians vs Muslims, Hausas vs others, natives vs Hausas, Beroms vs Fulanis, we vs them, Yoruba Muslims vs other Muslims, others vs Berom. This list is not exhaustive. I wanted to go and see my friend and big brother Dr. Aliyu Tilde in Fulden Bauchi but I was warned it’s not safe, I could be caught in the middle.

There is the theory that Jos is the heartland for an Islamization agenda by ‘them’. Well, it’s a theory of the naive versus the learned. In Jos, there is not only palpable tension but immense hatred.

Whichever way it is viewed the land of Generals, is a complete study in failure of leadership, whether CAN, PFN, PDP, JNI, JIBWIS, Army, Police and all those vested with the power to do something.

It’s strange that Useni, a general that leads the Arewa, is in Jos, and one of the key problems has become “a hatred for the Arewas”. How can Gowon be praying for Nigeria and cannot pray for Jos? Anyway, many see him as the Zaria Prince Why would Domkat Bali, Shagaya, Temlong and the rest just sit and watch the desecration of Jos by hoodlums on both sides.

Reason is simply, all these elite are either not even talking, or like I was recently told by one of them…”It’s Jang, he does not listen”.

In this year alone there have three relocations, all by the Igbos, first it was the motor spare parts market that moved from Dilimi, the printing business left Bauchi Road, and then lately the electronics market leaving Masclacchi Jumai axis.

In Jos, it has gone beyond clashes, to killings and sheer criminality, the amount of arms in circulation is scary as localities resort to local vigilantes that have no modus operandi other than kill the perceived enemy. The city map is being re-drawn…

Three days into the killings, a staff of a courier company was on assignment to Abuja, he was travelling with his wife, the car broke down at Mararaba, and he asked his wife to go back since they had barely started the journey.

She never got back to Jos…Her phone rang and it was picked by them…

A complete taxi from the Kaduna axis got missing with all passengers unaccounted for…killed by them.

Taxpayers’ money paid to security forces yet citizens have resorted to jungle warfare. Parents cannot allow their kids go to school and on Sunday, pews are half empty as bomb scare texts are spread via mobile and social media.

Everyone watches the other person as Friday prayers are on-going.

Interestingly some 10 local governments apart from political turmoil and hardship are peaceful in Plateau, not even aware of happenings in the state capital.

All these killings will sadly continue because, there is hate, it’s there, it will continue because no one is ever punished. It will continue because no one cares, life has no value.

In case no one said it, I say it again; in some parts of the city, human beings are killed and eaten. In some areas the Nigerian army cannot go there, in some areas there are no churches.

Christians cannot wear kaftan, and Muslims cannot jeans up and wear a T-Shirt.

Yet we all meet at the bank, use same MTN, Glo, Etisalat and co. to make calls warning each other and spreading hate.

A solution…Just one for now, Jos does not need a commission; there has been 7 on the last count .It needs a truth and reconciliation commission. However, the important questions will never be answered if the issues of employment and education are not tackled because we will always have idle hands, a devil and a workshop.

I make a very inciting sounding comment in ending this essay…for once, let all these bloodletting be targeted at leaders that have shown that they are not willing to lead and it may in itself be a solution too.

Revenge, retaliation, vengeance, to get even, reprisal, retribution, it’s a circle, someone needs to halt it. If not we will get to the point we may not know which will haunt us, the dead child or the fact it’s alive without wisdom.

•Dickson is editor,, Nigeria’s 1st online newspaper.