It is with a sick feeling in my stomach that I post this. One of my friends Godfrey Saeed Selbar, a Jos-based filmmaker, called me around 11:51am this morning, telling me that there had been “another massacre” in a village not far from where he lives in Jos. I immediately called my mother, who confirmed that this was actually the village of a family friend. The friend went to Maza at 5am this morning and personally saw the bodies of acquaintances.
According to news reports from Next, BBC, Al-Jazeera, AFP, and Reuters, it appears that between 5 to 10 people were killed last night in the village of Maza by attackers who invaded the village in the middle of the night, according to AFP, between 1:30 and 5am.
According to Al-Jazeera,
Seven houses and a church were burned in Mazzah village, near the city of Jos, the scene of previous acts of sectarian violence.
“Seven people were killed instantly with machetes while three others were seriously injured. One of them died on the way to the hospital,” Lieutenant Colonel Kingsley Umoh told the AFP news agency.
Next reports that
Mr. Umoh’s figure, however, differs with that of the State Government, who announced that 10 people were killed while another 10 sustained serious injuries.
Some reports said the dead included the family of a Christian priest.
Witnesses said the men attacked the family of Nuhu Dawat in the village of Mazah, 12km (7 miles) from the state capital of Jos, killing his wife, two children and a grandson.
The priest ran for his life, later telling Reuters: “I leave everything to God to judge.”
My friend Godfrey Saeed Selbar writes on his blog “Musings of a Lost Soul,” his own eye-witness account of what he saw when he went to Maza and has uploaded at least one photo of one of the victims. Warning, the photo he has uploaded is a graphic image of a dead body. He reports that “The pastor’s wife,children,and grandchild and the counsellor’s family amongst others were the victims.”
Recounting his ordeal, pastor of the burnt COCIN Church, the Reverend Nuhu Dawat whose wife, two children and a grandson were murdered said he heard a knock on his door at about 1.am but found nobody when he opened the door.
He said he later began to hear sporadic gunshots which forced him to escape through the back door to take refuge in a farm. By the time he returned he met his wife and the three children hacked to death.
“I watched as the attackers broke into houses and went after those who ran out of their houses with dangerous weapons”, he said.
Another resident, Adam Bala said “We were sleeping when we heard some movements. We cannot say exactly why they came to attack us. This incident happened between 1.am and 2.am. They came in with weapons and attacked some targeted houses.
”The personal house and family house of the councilor representing Mazah Ward Hon. Kankani Jaja were burnt, his parents and son killed, the COCIN church in the village was vandalized, the Pastor’s house burnt, his wife, child and mother murdered while another boy in the village was also murdered”.
Also speaking to journalists, another victim, Gaya Suna who lost his only daughter said he had to escape into the bush but his daughter who was deep asleep was hacked by the assailants.
District Head of the Area, Mr. Abamu Kaiwa said they made frantic calls for assistance but none came until the attackers left adding that those injured had been taken to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for treatment.
Seriki Adinoye of This Day reports:
Another resident of the village, Mr Gaya Suna, who narrated his ordeal said the attackers came with such a bright torchlight that they could locate where their victims hid. He was however able to escape with his wife but his daughter was killed. He said “People were sleeping when we heard some movement. We cannot say exactly why they came to attack us”.
The Community leader of Mazah, Mr Abamu Kaiwa, who spoke with THISDAY said “This incident occured between 1 and 2am, they came in with some weapons and attacked some targeted houses. The personal house and family house of the Councilor representing Mazah ward in the Council, Hon. Kankani Jaja, were burnt, his father and son killed”.]]]
[[UPDATE 20 July 2010. Mr. Kyle Abts, who is with the organization “Food for the Hungry” (USA) and is a coordinator with CRCWRC, sent me the following information he obtained by going to Mazah and talking to people there. I am sharing this information with his permission:
After talking to one of the church elders, the councilor and many residents, I have more questions than answers!
– Mazah is the correct spelling.
– It is very difficult to drive over the hills and down very bad roads over streams (many park near the main road and trek in on foot).
– Mazah is spread out along the valley (unlike Dogo Nahawa which has a concentration of buildings).
– Church was not burned (pastors house was burned).
– Serious weapons (apart from machete) they had machine guns (holes in metal, concrete, etc). I did not see shell casings, but the residents said detectives came and collected them.
– Councilor’s house was burned and several from his family was killed (he was out of town).
– Some attackers were known to the villagers (they didn’t just lure them out, they went inside specific homes to carry out killings and then burned them).
– They don’t believe that peace is an option (they want it, but say how could they if the other side does agree to it).
– Many (including councilor and church people) said that some youths killed a cow and they had discussed repaying the Fulani, but never did (one even said the cow gave birth before they killed it).
– The 9 arrested had been released.
– Army involved in (as in other attacks the villagers said the attackers spoke Hausa, carried army-grade weapons, knew where/how to attack).
This middle of the night attack echoes similar attacks that have occurred on villages around Jos from the January attack on Kuru Karama, the March attack on Dogo Nahawa and surrounding villages, and more recent attacks on the village of Riyom at the beginning of this month that have taken place in the past few months. Jos and surrounding areas in Plateau State have flared up into crisis beginning in September 2001 in Jos (there were small problems previous to 2001 but this marks the largest scale violence seen in Plateau State) and continuing in Yelwa and Shendam in 2002 and 2004. There was another large scale crisis in Jos in November 2008 and January 2009, and since January, there have been a series of attacks on villages, individuals, and “secret killings.”
For background reading see a series of detailed reports (mostly by Human Rights Watch). I believe that there is a white paper that has been released by the state commission on the 2008 Jos crisis, but I haven’t yet been able to find where it is posted:
Human Rights Watch. “Nigeria: Protect Survivors, Fully Investigate Massacre Reports.” 23 January 2010.
Philip Ostien. “Jonah Jang and the Jasawa: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Nigeria.” August 2009
Human Rights Watch. “Nigeria: Arbitrary Killings by Security Forces in Jos.” 19 December 2008.
Human Rights Watch. “They do not own this place: Government discrimination against “non-indigines” in Nigeria.” 26 April 2006.
Human Rights Watch. “Revenge in the Name of Religion: the cycle of violence in Plateau and Kano States” 25 May 2005.
Human Rights Watch. “Jos: a city torn apart.” 18 December 2001