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PEOPLES DAILY, FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013

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EDIT ORIAL EDITORIAL

R

The curse of Wukari

esidents of Wukari, Taraba state's second largest city after Jalingo, the capital, have not ventured outdoors for almost a week now since the government slapped a 24hour curfew following sectarian violence that broke out on May 3. It was the second deadly clash between the Jukun Christian and Hausa Muslim populations of the town. The first outbreak was in February. Wukari was the capital of the once powerful Kororafa Empire, which at its zenith in the 13th century, occupied the whole of modern Middle Belt, extending as far north as Kano. The present chief, the Aku Uka, is still influential because he is a first class chief and the chairman of the Taraba state Council of Emirs and Chiefs. However, the town's history of violence has whittled down his influence of late, with people asking why he should continue to preside over the council when he cannot hold his people together. The May 3 crisis, according to the police authorities, claimed 39 lives and displaced over 3000 persons, now housed in camps. It came a day after, the state's acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, inaugurated a seven-member committee to probe the violence in February that left one man dead and a lot of public and private property, including places of worship, destroyed. While the spark for the February mayhem was an argument at a football training session involving Christian and Muslim youths, last week's violence was ignited by the pelting of a Jukun funeral procession in the Muslim section of the town. According to the police, it is the tradition of the Jukuns that when a

member of the royalty dies there should be a funeral procession round the town before he is taken to his final resting place. This time the funeral procession for a title holder on May 3 had proceeded in peace until it reached Karofi Street, dominated by the Hausa. There the procession was allegedly pelted with stones by youths; the mourners ignored the provocation and continued their march to the burial ground, but on their way back they went violent at the very spot where the procession had been attacked. In no time,

we believe the government's tardiness in investigating the February crisis did indirectly fuel the latest violence the fighting deteriorated into utter bedlam and mayhem. Speaking on the latest violence, Public Relations Officer for the Taraba Police Command, Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Joseph Kwali, described the situation as one "under control". The police said the same thing in the wake of the February violence. They claimed "enough policemen" had been deployed in the town to avert a repeat of the sectarian violence. Yet it did not take quite three months before the latest round of killings and destruction erupted. Two things can

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be inferred here. It is either the security personnel deployed was too small in number to police a town as large as Wukari or they were ill-equipped and so were overwhelmed by marauding youths. Whatever was the case, the investigation that acting governor Umar has ordered should get to the root of it. The panel has also been tasked to investigate the role played by religious leaders and traditional rulers in keeping Wukari on the boil. The town, of the late, has been a hotbed fundamentalist Pentecostal evangelism which draws a lot of Jukun followers. This development has forced the small Hausa Muslim community into a defensive cocoon. It perhaps explains why a purely traditional funeral procession so easily turned into a deadly ethno-religious confrontation. While we by no means advocate an abridgement of people's right to profess their faith, we definitely urge a curb on religious activism that sets one faith against another. That said, we believe the government's tardiness in investigating the February crisis did indirectly fuel the latest violence. We believe if it had acted much quicker, it would have been able to take measures to avert last week's. As it is, which will the panel investigate, the February crisis or the May one? Will there be another panel to probe this latest violence? No easy questions for the acting governor whose position is too weak to handle the turmoil in the state's southern senatorial district of which Wukari is the capital. Such power still resides with Governor Danbaba Suntai, bedridden in a hospital in Germany as a result of a plane crash last October.

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Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013 Edition

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013 Edition

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