In the continued search for permanent solution to the persisting attacks in Bassa Local Government Area which has led to loss of lives and properties, Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong has separately met with leaders of Irigwe and Fulani communities.
Governor Lalong at the meeting held at the Government House Rayfield Jos, frowned at the persisting clashes in Bassa LGA which has continued even till Tuesday night when five people were killed in Chando Zrreche despite the dusk to dawn curfew still in place in the Local Government.
During the separate meetings with the two groups held behind closed doors, the Governor expressed displeasure that there has been a lot of criminality in the area which has been given tribal and religious connotations that have snowballed into wanton destruction of lives and properties.
He recalled the efforts of the Plateau State Government in resolving the conflicts between farmers and herders in Bassa which led to commitments that have not been kept over time. This he said is disturbing as similar commitments have brought substantial peace to other Local Governments.
Lalong called on the leaders of the two groups to be frank and discuss why there have been consistent attacks resulting in the killing of farmers and herdsmen as well as destruction of crops and cattle.
Paramount leader of Irigwe land, HRH Rev. Ronku Aka, the Brra Ngwe told the Governor that his people are peace loving and accommodating, and willing to live in peace with other people including Fulani who they have coexisted together peacefully for many years.
The issues causing friction according to him are the persistent damage to their crops and attacks on farmers who have been impoverished and rendered homeless. He assured the Governor that despite the challenges of the past, his people are willing to forgive the past and live peacefully with not only Fulani but other people.
He also appealed for more presence of security personnel in the area and pledged to fish out criminal elements within his domain. The Royal Father asked Government to support those displaced or injured in the conflicts and those whose farmlands have been destroyed and are in distress.
During the meeting with the leaders of the Fulani community, Chairman MACBAN Plateau State, Alhaji Nura Muhammed said Fulani herders who have lived in Bassa for a very long time have continued to suffer attacks resulting in deaths, stealing or killing of cattle.
He said the issue of “farmer-herder clashes” is nothing but criminality which must be treated as such. According to him, those who engage in killing Fulani, Irigwe or destroying farmlands and cattle must be fished out and punished to serve as deterrence to others.
Alhaji Nura Muhmamed assured the Governor that his people are willing to peacefully live with other communities and also fish out criminal elements in order to ensure lasting peace. While calling on Government to look into the plight of herders who have suffered losses, he emphasised justice, tolerance and sincerity among leaders to guide the youths on the need for peaceful coexistence. He said Fulani who have been displaced are willing to return and live in peace.
After the closed door meeting, the Governor assured them that the concerns raised will be addressed by the Government but the huge responsibility lies with the two communities that must be determined to address all issues through lawful means and also commit to tolerate and accommodate one another.
He also informed them that the State will soon launch the Livestock Transformation Programme which will provide for Ranching and value addition to cattle rearing and associated businesses. This he said will reduce the stress on land and water which is shrinking with more demands.
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