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Jos Crises and Its Effects on Gospel Events

Since 2001, violence has erupted in Jos city, capital of Plateau state, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. The ostensible dispute is over the “rights” of the indigene Berom/Anaguta/Afizere (BAA) group and the rival claims of the Hausa-Fulani settlers to land, power and resources. Indigene-settler conflicts are not new to Nigeria, but the country is currently experiencing widespread intercommunal strife, which particularly affects the Middle Belt.

The Jos crisis is the result of failure to amend the constitution to privilege broad-based citizenship over exclusive indigene status and ensure that residency rather than indigeneity determines citizens’ rights. Constitutional change is an important step to defuse indigene-settler rivalries that continue to undermine security. It must be accompanied by immediate steps to identify and prosecute perpetrators of violence, in Jos and other parts of the country. Elites at local, state and federal level must also consistently implement policies aimed at reducing the dangerous link between ethnic belonging and access to resources, power and security if intercommunal violence is to end. Since the end of 2010, security has further deteriorated in Jos because of terror attacks and suicide bombings against churches and security targets by suspected militants of Boko Haram, the Islamist group responsible for an unprecedented wave of terrorist attacks in the north. Thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced internally and billions of dollars of property have been destroyed.

Following the Killing Of 22 Travelers on the 14th of August, 2021, Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong directed the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in Jos North Local Government Area from 2pm on Sunday 15th August 2021 to contain further security threats. A good number of Gospel Events which were scheduled to hold within Jos metropolis on that day (15th August 2021) had to be postponed because of this recent development. This curfew lasted until Thursday morning, 19th August, when it was relaxed to 12 hours daily (6pm to 6am).

The Plateau State government re-imposed a 24-hour curfew on Jos North Local Government Area (LGA) on Wednesday, 25th August 2021 following tensions sparked by the attack on Yelwa Zangam – a village in Zangam District of the state. This second phase of the 24-hour curfew lasted until Monday morning, 30th August, 2021 when it was relaxed to 12 hours (6pm to 6am). Gospel Events scheduled to hold within this period had to be postponed and churches within Jos North Local Government Area were unable to hold service on Sunday, 29th August, 2021 as a result of the 24-hour curfew.

As a result of these concurrent conflicts in the City of Jos, a number of Gospel Events had to be discontinued, some postponed, and for others, a time adjustment had to be made due to security challenges in the state. Programs which have been holding at night such as vigils and evening weekly meetings (6pm-9pm) have been halted as a result of insecurity. Generally, the turnout for gospel events has dropped drastically because of the issues mentioned earlier. The Jos crises did not begin this year, and have been affecting gospel events for almost a decade. Some annual events have been canceled as a result.

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