Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MPAC Calls On Gov. Jonah Jang To Be A Partner For Peace
The recent crisis that engulfed Jos in Plateau State was one too many as it again left in its wake tears, blood and sorrow, which will reverberate for a long time to come. The unfortunate victims of this crisis are still counting their loses and wondering why the cruel hand of criminal elements visited fate on them. The wanton destruction of life and property was on a scale unimaginable and appeared premeditated. What was originally a political supremacy battle got mismanaged and snowballed into ethno-religious matter which inflicted heavy losses both sides of the political and religious divide.
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) has consistently condemned this penchant for resorting to violence in resolving political matters and regularly calls on all the stakeholders to find amicable ways of settling matter so all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic or religious views, could live in any part of the country with no let or hindrance. It is however sad to note that at a time that various bodies and the government at federal level are looking for a way out of the recurring crisis, the Plateau State Government is out on a campaign of calumny against Islam and Nigerian Muslims, even when the report on the findings of National Assembly committee paints a different picture. The report among others states that “One of the immediate causes of the Jos North Local Government Election crisis could be attributed to alleged attempt by the ruling Party in the State to manipulate the results of the Chairmanship election to its advantage.” The report further states that the State Governor failed to heed three separate intelligence reports from the State Security Service, SSS, forewarning of imminent threats to security in the state.
MPAC is aware of some clandestine moves of the State Government to enlist the press in its battle against Islam and Muslims. The Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang was recently in Lagos on ‘a private visit’, in the company of the CAN Chairman in Bauchi state among others, to meet with key editor-in-chiefs, editors and deputy editors of major newspapers where copies of CDs and other materials purporting to contain “incriminating evidences” against Muslims in Jos were handed out with the obvious and dishonest intention to place the blame of the crisis on the doorstep of Muslims. It is sad and dangerous that a state government adopted this policy of “smearcasting” to affect news standards and reporting.
This is cheap propaganda which has failed before it even started. The Governor is attempting to rubbish the good work that various religious and inter-religious councils are doing to bring peace and harmony to the flash-points of religious crisis in Nigeria. It is embarrassing and shameful to try and whip up sentiments by dragging the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) into his plans by coming to the meeting with the CAN Chairman in Bauchi state. This is pure deceit as the governor ought to be aware that both the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the national body of CAN are both united in fighting this scourge of religious intolerance, which are majorly precipitated and manipulated by politicians, such as the governor. The various security reports before the crisis were enough foretelling.
Apparently not satisfied with the responses from the media, the State Government has embarked on a media blitz to bring its agenda to fruition, as can be gleaned from planted news items in the Saturday March 28 edition of Punch newspaper titled: “Plateau govt alleges fresh plot to distabilise Jos” wherein the DG of Research & Planning in the Governor’s Office, Mr. Gyang Pwajok tried very hard to convince the reading public that the Central Mosque area is the hotspot where trouble flare in Jos. MPAC knows that it is all too easy to make a career in the Islamophobia industry but the Punch newspaper’s decision to uphold this bizarre propaganda strikes us as peculiar. Media should seek various points of view, but the message of the Islamophobes cannot possibly comport with the standards and practices that should constrain media outlets from airing smears against a religious group. It is a different thing to find people peddling islamophobia on street corners or on online discussion fora, but when people who have powerful platform at their disposal, or are allowed unfettered access to powerful platforms by reporters and editors in what is considered a mainstream publication, national security, not only Muslims, is put under threat.
We call on the Plateau State governor and its officials to be partners for peace, to read and review the report of findings of the National Assembly and sit down to do its work of governance and crisis management, rather than following the easy but cheap and counterproductive path of blackmail.