From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has described the resurgence of violence that took the lives of 23 people in an attack on commuters in Nigeria’s hilly Jos, Plateau state, on Saturday 14th August 2021 as unwarranted and senseless.
While stressing that the killing is one too many, it called for investigation into the killings and that perpetrators must be brought to justice.
The Executive Director of CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, in a statement expressed sadness that the attack set the tempo for identity-related unrests in the state.
He note thank although the state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew to restore normalcy, “the latest Jos crisis is a clear testament to severe identity-related conflicts within this state. “From farmer-herder crisis to ethnoreligious wars and indigene-settler dichotomy, the state is a hill of identity-based violence. Collated data from the Nextier SPD Violent Conflict Database shows that about 68 people have been killed in 17 incidents in the first half of 2021. The state periodically suffers from deep-seated violent identity and communal clashes.
“CISLAC, the Nigerian chapter of Transparency International, entirely condemns these unwarranted and senseless killings in Jos as well as any other violent act across every part of Nigeria. This killing is one too many and must be investigated and perpetrators need to be brought to justice. Every Jos crisis is a reminder of unresolved violent identity-based conflicts that exist in the state. It is also a call to action, dialogue, and proactive peacebuilding measures that will blur ethnic sentiments, end group suspicion and set the tempo of durable peace.
“On the government side, it indicates reactive security efforts that have come short of preventing attacks and reprisals. Therefore, increased intervention efforts must be centred on community-led approach to building peace and efficient securitisation of crisis-prone locations”, he said.
Rafsanjani said that CISLAC/Transparency International Nigeria urged the Nigerian Government to cultivate the will to disincentivise identity crisis in the state.
“Such aggression has moved beyond the political space to literally all aspects of the civilian life; inter-group squabbles have turned violent, and reprisal attacks are always almost inevitable. The weekend mayhem and revenge attacks that followed are evidence of this.
“Increased efforts towards promoting justice and peacebuilding in communities will curtail the growing proclivity towards violence. Intervention focus in deeply divided societies such as Plateau state should increase peace education at the grassroots level. To ensure sustainability and local ownership, there is a need to create change champions in communities where peace intertwined with strong education efforts is implemented. The imperative of peace education and peace ambassadors is to promote dialogues at the community level and maintain or even reinstall a sustainable path of peace.
“Government’s approach to peace is very much the key in deeply divided societies. Governance measures must be seen as unbiased and not aligned to any group. This will promote public trust and come in handy in implementing conflict resolution strategies to forestall peace among groups. Additionally, community-based dialogue platforms are essential in triggering locally-led peaceful approaches to conflict and contextualising inherent conflict types and people-led solutions. ”CISLAC quoting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), said employing dialogue is essential for achieving peace, fostering mutual understanding, self-expression, and reconciliation. The central idea for community dialogues is to counteract the factors that promote rural violence and resort to meaningless revenge and only fuel gasoline to the existing cycle of vengeance.
“Lastly, security measures in Nigeria, especially in deeply divided states and violent-prone locations, must be proactive. Security measures must be adequately efficient to protect lives and livelihoods. Also, avoidable violence must be managed to avoid reprisals based on negative group perceptions or ethnic divisions. Essentially, security agencies must implement early warning measures to prevent attacks and reprisals.
“The implementation of peace ambassadors will be beneficial to notify security agencies of growing schemes that may exaggerate to avoidable deaths and losses. Continuous violence in Plateau state is a clarion call to cultivate good governance, social justice, proactive peacebuilding, and proper securitising of violent vistas.”