Destruction of Dilimi
The violence in Dilimi did not start until Sunday, September 9. It was initially forestalled by Birom and Hausa leaders who worked together to prevent youths from both communities from taking revenge after hearing of attacks against their own people in other parts of Jos. A Hausa businessman and community leader explained: "On Saturday morning, indigenes from the town came to Dilimi saying their parents had been killed in Jos. They told indigenes in the village to take revenge on Muslims. We said: `No, we've been living together for the past eight years peacefully, therefore forget what has happened in Jos and protect our village from any crisis.' We got together with them and carried out joint patrols, Hausas and Biroms together, throughout Saturday."
They patrolled together successfully until the Sunday morning, when some Birom youths started challenging their elders. "They wanted to know why their elders were stopping them from fighting. They were asking them: `Why should these Hausas, these strangers, come to our area and become richer than us?' They asked their elders to let them take revenge for what had been done to their people in Jos." Several Hausa and Birom community leaders went to appeal to the police to send more policemen to the village, but were told that the police did not have enough men because they had been posted to the crisis in other locations. By the time they returned to the village at around 11.30 a.m., houses, vehicles and tires were already on fire. By about 2 p.m., large groups of Birom youths were rampaging through the village, shooting with guns, bows and arrows, and throwing stones. The Muslims residents were completely overpowered and had no choice but to abandon their houses and run for safety. The women and children left first; the divisional police officer eventually came and escorted some of the residents to a displaced persons' camp.25
Human Rights Watch spoke to residents of Dilimi who were living in a displaced persons' camp in Gangare primary school in Jos. The entire Muslim population of the village had had to be relocated there. An elderly village chief described how he survived the attack:26
The attack started on Sunday at about 10 a.m. I was in my house. I noticed Biroms-local residents-surrounding the place. When I came out, I saw about three cars on fire. I asked the Biroms: "Why is this happening after we agreed not to fight?" One man came with a spear and threatened to attack me. An elderly man intervened to stop him. The Biroms were saying: "We're ready to fight the Hausas, the Hausas should vacate the village."
As I made my way to meet the community leaders, a Birom woman stopped me on the way and sent me back, warning me that I would be killed. I managed to pass through but another group surrounded me. There were about ten of them, young men. They had bows and arrows, a dagger, a sword, and locally-made weapons. They said to me: "Say your last prayers, we are going to kill you." When I knelt down, two Birom women intervened. They implored the attackers not to kill me and said otherwise they should kill them too. One of the Birom women saved me; she took me to a Birom man's house. They locked me in a room and I hid there for twelve hours. At about 11 p.m. I left. I was afraid that if I went out after daybreak, I was more likely to be killed.
I went into the bush in the night. I came to a house near the airforce base. The house was empty. I stayed there until daybreak. In the morning, I found my people gathered at the airforce base; they thought I had been killed.
The nine people who were killed in Dilimi included six men, two women, and a three-month-old baby. Three of the men, Baba Jenja, Mallam Abdu, and Mallam Musa, were killed as they were trying to escape; Tsoho Mohammed died in hospital. The exact circumstances of the death of Yakubu Abubakar are not known. The death of Mohammed Abdullahi, a cow-rearer in his thirties, was not discovered until his body was found two weeks later; a pile of sand in front of a house in Dilimi marks his grave. The two women who died were Hajia Lemoji Abbas, aged about fifty, and Mrs. Mohammed, aged about thirty. Both women were attacked as they were trying to flee from Dilimi with a large group of other women and children. They were intercepted by a group of Biroms who asked them to surrender their male children. When the women refused, they killed Mrs. Mohammed and seriously injured Hajia Lemoji Abbas on the head and arm; she died about ten days later. A third woman, Hajia Al Majira, aged about fifty, was still in hospital several weeks later with machete wounds on her head and hand. The three-month-old boy was on his mother's back; he was beaten with sticks and died about six hours later.27
A forty-year-old woman who was with the group of fleeing women explained how they were intercepted:28
We managed to run into the bush but we were stopped on the way. They told us to go back to the village. I said: `No, let the women pass.' They said that we should leave the children behind and they would kill any male child. I have a baby boy. I disguised him as a girl by putting a cloth over his head. Then I knelt down to say my last prayer. I told the others that they should go, that I would sacrifice myself. I was holding my son. A man hit me on the shoulder with a piece of wood. I didn't feel the pain at the time but later I realized I was bleeding. One man who had a gun said he wanted to shoot me. Another man said no and they started arguing amongst themselves. I took advantage of this and ran away with my child.
In addition to the nine people killed, many were injured. Human Rights Watch researchers spoke to a forty-three-year-old man who had serious gunshot wounds on the side of his head. He was shot outside his house in Dilimi on September 9, at about 4 p.m. He said: "Three people attacked me. They had local guns; I still have the bullets. There were other people around but I was the only one they caught there. They didn't say anything. They just shot me. I spent thirteen days in hospital."29
A forty-year-old Muslim man from Watam, in Riyom local government area, survived with serious injuries after watching several of his neighbors being killed:30
Christians were rounding up Muslims in my area. It happened on Monday, September 10, at about 2.30 p.m. They killed eight people there. They asked us all to lie down outside a shop and poured petrol over us. I started running, but eight other men were killed. They were hit with machetes first, then burnt. I managed to drag one of them with me but he died later in hospital.
As I was running away, they came after me and hit me with their machetes on the back of my neck, on my elbow and back. There were about 200 of them, some young, some old, including a retired army officer. I recognized some of them. They are my Birom neighbors. We knew each other before. They attacked us just like that. I don't know what they were saying as I don't understand their language.
I stayed in the bush for four days before coming to hospital. I was hiding in the bush with my friend Adama Mohammed, the one who died in hospital. They had chopped off his hands and cut his face. I was trying to help him while we were hiding in the bush. I think he bled to death.
The others who were killed all died on the spot. They included Ya'u Zakary, Alhaji Adamu Isa, Mohammed Ammani, Iliya Abdu, and Mohammed Sani, a police officer. They were all my neighbors.
Alhaji Zakaria Haruna, a former civil servant from Dadinkowa, was killed on September 8; his body was burnt and dumped in the boot of his car. He was stopped and surrounded by Christian youths as he was driving into town. The youths were arguing among themselves, some saying they should kill him, others saying they should let him go. As he tried to start up his car again, a cassette of Islamic preaching was inadvertently switched on in his car. Hearing this, the youths began attacking him with machetes and setting fire to him. They left him in the boot of his car. Initially, relatives had difficulty finding his vehicle as the number plate had been removed. Eventually, a relative located it and found the burnt and shriveled body in the boot.31
Some of the victims were not even residents of Jos or Plateau State. For example, five Hausa men who were just passing through Jos on their way to Bauchi and Gombe states were attacked on September 8 at the bridge opposite the permanent site of the university. Only one survived by hiding under the bridge. He saw his brother fall off the bridge after being attacked with machetes. The attackers said: "He's alive! Let's follow him!" He tried to help his brother who had fallen but had to abandon him when the attackers caught up. They killed his brother with cutlasses.32