'Nigeria must punish Jos attackers'

Many of the Nigerians responsible for the sectarian clashes that killed hundreds in Jos last week were the same people arrested but not prosecuted.

'Nigeria must punish Jos attackers'

Many of the Nigerians responsible for the sectarian clashes that killed hundreds in Jos last week were the same people arrested but not prosecuted after similar violence in November 2008, a state government spokesman said.

Mosque and government officials pulled more bodies from wells and sewage pits in a village near the Nigerian city of Jos, victims of what Human Rights Watch said on Saturday appeared to have been a targeted massacre.

Politicians urged Nigerian authorities to prosecute the community leaders and gangs behind the fighting if it wants to prevent future conflicts.

"We are afraid the same situation will occur again. They were moved to Abuja last time, but were never prosecuted," Plateau state government spokesman Gregory Yenlong said.

"As it is now, we hope those arrested will return to Jos where they can be prosecuted."

More than 300 people were arrested in last week's clashes and about half are expected to be sent to Nigeria's capital Abuja for prosecution, police said.

But many of Nigeria's prisons are overcrowded and the legal system overburdened with cases. It is not uncommon for communities to punish criminals themselves and blame their actions on the country's weak judicial system.

"This is not the first time that the government has promised justice but the government has not prosecuted those responsible," said Corinne Dufka of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. "The world is now watching. It is time to act."

The opposition Action Congress party blamed local politicians for the Jos violence, saying they helped stoke tensions and should be punished.

"These politicians who aid and abet these destructive acts for their own selfish purpose have always worked behind the scenes to shield those behind the senseless orgy of killing, maiming and destruction," Lai Mohammed, the party's spokesman, said in a statement.

"If the federal government is sincere about ending the violence, it must start today by bringing those behind the latest crisis to book immediately," he added.

Hundreds of troops and police have restored order in Jos and a curfew has been relaxed further to between 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) and 6 a.m. beginning this week.

Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang is expected to meet with former and current state government and military leaders in Jos on Monday to develop a strategy to prevent future clashes.

Agencies


Related news reports:

HRW calls for probe on massacre of Muslims in Nigeria / PHOTO  

Nigeria death toll rises to 500 after four day of clashes

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 09:47
Add Comment