Irigwe and Fulani ethnic groups in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau, have signed a peace pact, as part of efforts to end attacks in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the document was signed by the Chairman of Irigwe/Fulani Peace Committee, Rev. John Pawa, the Co-Chairman, Alhaji Yau’u Idris and the Chairman of Bassa Local Government, Mr Stephen Igmala, at Jebbu Bassa.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General of Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Dr Joseph Lengman, said that the document was produced by a 16-man committee, comprising the two ethnic groups.
According to him, the groups are from Irigwe chiefdom in Miango district of Bassa council area.
He said that the committee held a series of consultations, conducted investigations on the causes of the conflicts, did impact assessments and proffered modalities for sustainable peace.
Lengman said that the document stated that humanity should be the fulcrum for sustainable peaceful co-existence through which disputes would be resolved through dialogue and mutual respect for values, while individual beliefs would be raised above parochial interest.
He thanked Gov. Simon Lalong for the peace initiative, aimed at ensuring peaceful co-existence between the two communities.
The director-general also commended the ethnic groups for signing the documents, coupled with their resolve to co-exist peacefully in spite of their differences.
In his remarks, the Mbra Ngwe Irigwe (paramount leader) of Irigwe nation, Rev. Ronku Aka, said that peace was critical to the progress of any society.
According to him, the two ethnic groups have mutual benefits to derive from living together.
He thanked the state government, non-government organisations and other key stakeholders for their peace efforts in the area, while calling for prayers to ensure adherence to the agreement.
In his remarks, the governor said that the signed document could be used for future interventions, either by state or non-state actors in the council area, urging the ethnic groups to enlighten their members on its content.
“It is your document and you must ensure that you enlighten and sensitise your respective communities on the importance of respecting all the articles contained therein,” he said.
Lalong said that his administration would support the implementation of the agreement, especially the recommendations that required appropriate policy response, to address the root causes of the inter-communal conflict.
“Similarly, I have also directed PPBA to work in conjunction with security agencies as well as local and international partners to support the safe return and resettlement of all the victims of violent conflict in Miango and environs.
“This also involves the provision of pyscho-social support and additional trainings to youth groups and women,” he said.
The governor thanked members of the committee, traditional and religious leaders in the area, NGOs, security agencies and other stakeholders for their efforts at mitigating the violent clashes which had lingered in the area for more than two decades.
“We are proud to note that there is a general decline in the spate of ethno-religious crisis and violent attacks, far lower than the scale witnessed before we came into office,” he said.
The governor said that the agreement was the product of the voluntarily commitment between the two warring communities to finding solutions to the recurring violence, stressing that the state government only facilitated the process.
NAN reports that representatives of the two ethnic groups promised to sensitise their people on the need for peaceful co-existence and called for measures against any defaulter.
Other signatories included: the two chairmen of Plateau State Inter-Religious Council (PSIR), Rev Pandang Yamsat and Dr Muhammadu Haruna, as well as the director-general of PPBA.
Many NGOs, ethnic groups and religious organizations, such as CAN and JNI, attended the event.