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AFRICA
Nigeria vows to tackle violence
Security officials will be held responsible for future massacres, says police chief.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2010 21:43 GMT

Nigeria's police chief has said that police officials in Nigeria's central Plateau state will be held responsible for future violent incidents.

Ogbonna Onovo made his comments while on a visit to the region, which has seen two massacres in just three months.

"Henceforth, DPOs [district police officers] will be held responsible for any such attacks in their areas of jurisdiction," Onovo said on Friday.

"We will provide more logistics and incentives to the police in Plateau State for the effective maintenance of law and order in the state."

He urged police officers to act promptly on intelligence reports on such attacks and promised to help the state police command in its operations.

More than 500 people, predominantly Christian villagers near the central city of Jos, were killed last week in an attack blamed on Muslim herders from nearby hills.

In January, hundreds of people, mainly Muslims, were killed in similar clashes in the region.

'Deep divisions'

Nigerian authorities have arrested nearly a 100 people in connection with the attack on Christians.

Ibrahim Mantu, a former senator from Plateau state and chairman of the People's Movement for a New Nigeria, told Al Jazeera on Sunday the government is doing everything possible to restore confidence.

"I know that arrests have been made of the perpetrators of this crime," he said.

"We are against this crime. We don't want any blood shed anymore. We want to live in peace as we used to live, both Christian and Muslims."

IN DEPTH

  Timeline: Tensions in Nigeria
  Nigeria's sectarian crisis
  Video: Jos violence

Commenting on the domestic situation, Mantu denied that there was a political vacuum.

Jonathan Goodluck, the acting president, had been granted authority by the courts and people recognised him as the commander-in-chief, he said.

Referring to Goodluck, Mantu said: "There is no power vacuum; somebody is in control and in charge."

Whatever the political reality, David Zounmenou, an expert on Nigeria at the South African Centre for Security Studies in Pretoria, cautioned there is a real danger the violence seen in Jos could spread to other parts of the West African nation.

"There are deep divisions in Nigerian society and some people within communities still feel excluded from access to power, resources and if you look specifically at Jos, what is happening is a clash between those who feel they are settlers and those who are nomads who feel cut off from their land," Zounmenou told Al Jazeera.

"As a result, those issues faced in Jos, the Niger Delta and southern parts of the country need to be dealt with carefully if Nigeria is to stand the test of time."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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