Plateau State governor Simon Lalong has expressed in lasting peace and an end to recurring violence in Bassa local government area where attacks have led to loss of lives and destruction of properties, farmlands and livestocks.
Governor Lalong who witnessed the signing of the expression of commitment to peace between the Irigwe and Fulani communities in Bassa LGA said he was happy that there is a genuine and collective effort to address the spate of violence that has grossly affected people of the area and the state in general.
Lalong warned that government will not relent on its duty of maintaining law and order and ensuring that those who attempt to truncate the implementation of the peace agreement are dealt with according to the law.
He said, “Today’s gathering which is at the instance of the leadership of the Irigwe and Fulani is for these two communities to tell the whole world that they had tested the bitter pills that violent conflict serves but now willing, ready and able to chart a new course for themselves by first forgiving the past in order to reconcile the future”.
The governor said on coming into office in 2015, his administration inherited the crisis but was determined to confront the challenges head-on, which made it to develop a policy framework that moved from the reactive approach to being proactive.
“The nearly two-decade experience of violent conflict between Irigwe and Fulani of Irigwe Chiefdom has given my administration sleepless nights. Yet, we never for once relented in our effort and desire to expand the frontiers of peace and security in those communities in particular and, the entire Bassa local government area in general.
According to him, his personal involvement in the mediation of this conflict was hinged on the ongoing interventions of both the Plateau State Peace Building Agency and the State Inter-Religious Council who have worked closely with other stakeholders, including external actors to bring peace and stability in communities ravaged by internecine conflict.
While commending the Brra Ngwe for his personal commitment to the pursuit of peace as well as other stakeholders including the Fulani representatives, the governor urged the parties to take full ownership of this document.
“It is your document and you must ensure that you enlighten and sensitize your respective communities on the importance of respecting all the articles contained there-in. Be assured that on its own part, government will support and monitor your commitment towards the implementation of this agreement”.
In his remarks, the paramount ruler of Miango HRH Brra Nngwe, Rev. Ronku Aka (Rtd.) thanked the governor for his foresight in setting up the peace building agency and empowering it to work towards resolving conflicts and restoring peace and security among the Irigwe and Fulani in Bassa as well as other parts of the state.
He said the people of Bassa want to put the ugly events of the past behind them and live in peace and unity with one another to pursue their legitimate means of livelihood without molestation.
The chairman of Bassa Internal Peace and Security Committee, Mr John Power and the co-chairman Alhaji Ya’u Idris signed the peace agreement on behalf of the Irigwe and Fulani communities.
Those who also signed as witnesses include chairman Bassa local government; chairman Plateau Inter Religious Council, Prof. Pandam Yamsat; and his co-chairman represented by emir of Kanam; president Irigwe Development Association; chairman MACBAN, Kaduna Peace Commission, commander Operation Safe Haven, police commissioner, PIDAN, Inter Faith Mediation Centre, United States Institute for Peace among others.
The secretary to the state government (SSG), Prof Danladi Atu, said the governor has directed him and the attorney-general and commissioner for justice to immediately put in place machinery for Gazetting and working out the policy framework for immediate implementation.