Berom and Fulani communities in Jol and Mahanga; two contentious communities in Riyom local government area of Plateau State at the weekend resolved to end hostilities, 18 years after an ethno-religious violence engulfed the state.
Newsmen report that Mahanga, an enclave dominated by the Fulani which the Berom traditionally refer to as Rankum and Jol, a Berom community were in the past tagged “no-go areas” by each of the tribes due to incessant violence.
However, the two opposing parties on Saturday came together after several efforts by pro-peace international organization; Search for Common Ground (SFCG), to proffer solution that will enhance their co-existence.
Speaking at an Inter Dialogue section organized for the two communities, the Project coordinator, SFCG, Patience Chaimang said it was the first time the two groups were coming together to forge ahead, 18 years after the 2001 crisis.
Chaimang said they had met with the two groups separately at an intra-dialogue before bringing them together for the inter-dialogue adding that; “their coming together is a starting point for peace. We believe that peace is a process and taking this first step is very crucial as we intend to sustain it for a maximum and effective result.”
Also speaking, the National Peace Adviser, SFCG Ema Billings said many organisations had tried to bring the waring parties together but the two communities did not quite trust them.
“They responded to us because according to them, we are the first people to ask them about their grievances and we also went into their communities to find out for ourselves. I can tell that there is hope to an end to the wanton killings that have engulfed this locality,” Billings said.
Speaking to journalists, the Imam of Mahanga, Suleiman Ibrahim identified violent triggers as blocking of cattle routes by farmers, assaulting of shepherds by farmers which often results in injuries and sometimes death as well as hate speech amongst others.
On his part, the Youth Leader of Jol, Ching Samuel identified grazing close to residential houses, irrigation farms and burial grounds as key conflict triggers.
The two groups agreed to come up with a communique that will address the issues raised.