The Pontiff has condemned the killings of innocent citizens in Jos, Plateau State in the Central Nigeria, according to a statement issued in Rome.
“My deepest condolences to the victims of the atrocious violence which has bloodied Nigeria and which has not even spared defenceless babies,” Pope Benedict said in the short statement.
He cautioned: “Once again, with a sorrowful heart, I repeat that violence does not solve conflicts but only worsens their tragic consequences … I call all those in the country who have civil or religious authority to work for the security and peaceful coexistence of the whole population,” he said.
The latest unrest and eventual killing of more than 500 innocent villagers has been condemned worldwide and in another recent reaction, The United Nations, United States, rights groups and opposition politicians have all urged the authorities to ensure those responsible face justice and called on the security forces to protect civilians
As hoodlums took over the heart of the country engaging in sporadic killing of innocent people through petty excuses in recent times, the nation’s acting President is incapacitated with some cabals in the current government sabotaging his use of executive power to deal with the crisis, while engaging in underground threat to arm- string the acting President.
Acting President Jonathan has tried to assert his authority while ailing leader Umaru Yar’Adua remains too sick to govern.
The United Nations, United States, rights groups and opposition politicians have all urged the authorities to ensure that those responsible for the carnage are brought to book , urging Nigeria security forces to protect the civilian populace in the country.
Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang on Tuesday blamed the military, which took control of security in January, for failing to respond to his warning that movements of armed men had been reported by villagers shortly before Sunday’s attacks.
Police have made over 100 arrests but rights groups are concerned that those responsible may not actually be prosecuted.
More than 300 people were arrested in January and about half of them were due to be sent to the capital Abuja for prosecution, but it is unclear how many actually faced justice.
Local officials said many of those responsible for January’s violence were the same people arrested but no confirmation from the state authorities.
Fierce competition for control of fertile farmlands between Christian and animist indigenous groups and Muslim settlers from the north have repeatedly triggered unrest over the past decade.
Retaliatory attacks are not uncommon and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has put the security forces on red alert to try to prevent unrest from spreading to neighboring states at the heart of Africa’s most populous nation.
“Last night until this morning everybody kept vigil. Nobody slept,” said Felvis Aduba, a Jos resident who owns a shop selling electronic goods.
Jos was already under a dusk-to-dawn curfew after clashes between Christian and Muslim mobs in January which killed more than 400 people, according to community leaders.
Aduba said the city had been put on edge by SMS messages sent to mobile phones warning that militants from the Muslim Hausa-Fulani ethnic group, blamed for Sunday’s attacks, were coming from the northern city of Maiduguri to wage war.
Gangs of youths gathered in self-defense, witnesses said.
Gunfire also rang out from the Tudun Wada neighborhood of the city overnight, where residents said panic was sown when a resident from another state received a truckload of cows.
Many of the herders around Jos are Hausa-Fulani and when a vigilante group saw the animals, they took the man for a northerner.