The two communities have waged attacks against each other for over a decade.
A senator representing Plateau North, Gyang Pwajok on Sunday reviewed the May 2013 peace deal between the Fulani and Berom in Plateau North and declared it “very fruitful.”
Mr. Pwajok who was speaking in Jos said that “the peace agreement has been successful.”
“It has yielded the desired fruits because there has been no gory incident since the two groups agreed to embrace and protect each other four months ago,” he said.
The two communities have waged attacks against each other for over a decade with hundreds of people killed while livestock, and farmlands were also destroyed.
The bloodbath persisted despite federal government intervention through the military’s Special Task Force (STF).
Mr. Pwajok initiated sessions of peace meetings between April and May during which the warring groups agreed to bury the hatchet and live in peace.
The senator said that he was particularly impressed with the resolve by leaders and the youth of both communities to respect and accept each other as one.
“I think the most impressive aspect of the resolve is the zeal to collaborate and collectively deal with conflict merchants out to disrupt the gains of the peace resolve. The communities have also found out that cow thieves and farm destroyers should be treated as individual cases and tackled that way without involving the entire community,” he said.
“There are still some elements of suspicion because villages that are routes of cattle thieves are seen as either abodes of the suspects or their conspirators which makes some villages vulnerable to attacks. But we are changing that impression with more enlightenment in the discussions. Again, with the attacks now very rare, the security agencies now have spare time to go after cattle rustlers and other petty criminals.”
Mr. Pwajok said some gangs, suspected to be responsible for cattle rustling, have been discovered and their operational tactics uncovered. He expressed optimism that the knowledge would help check the menace.
He said that community leaders were encouraged to settle cases of farm destruction by cattle with individuals involved rather than allow it to look like a communal issue that could rope in everyone.
“We have always said that such disagreements should never be communalized otherwise they attain wide dimensions that could snowball into major crises,” he said.
Mr. Pwajok advised Plateau residents to always be alert as “enemies” are always out to truncate the peace.
“Peace is not something you can easily get but where people are determined and can organise themselves to guard it, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel,” he stated.
The senator praised leaders of both the Fulani and Berom communities for living up to their resolve to protect and embrace each other. He noted that this had confirmed that they were sincere in their pronouncements at the peace meetings.
The senator also spoke on the reported influx of more people into Jos and environs and advised the STF to “critically study,” rather than celebrate the rising traffic in the city.
“Practically all roads and streets in Jos are recording very high traffic and I have often heard security agencies say that it signified a return of peace. I don’t agree much with that. I think it is rather a time to analyse this increase in traffic and the influx of more people because it could signal the arrival of insurgents fleeing from various directions.”
He said that such insurgents could take advantage of the peace in Plateau to re-launch their offensive and throw the state into fresh chaos, and advised security agencies to be “very alert.”
Mr. Pwajok particularly called for stiffer measures to safeguard Plateau borders with Bauchi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba.
“There must be a network of collaborative peace efforts; the STF must identify stranger elements and track down criminals by raiding their training grounds and camps.There must be improved and increased intelligence gathering to make for effective proactive steps so as to check criminals before they move,” he said.
The senator said special attention should be paid to the Bauchi border town of Toro and the surrounding settlements, and advised security agencies to comb “even the smallest settlements.”
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