Gyang Bere, Jos
Following persistent violence that has claimed dozens of lives in rural communities of Plateau State, over 52 Christian and Muslim youths have staged a peaceful protest against the continuous killings and raping of minors in the state since 2001.
The youths, under the umbrella of “Naija United Project”, made up of young boys and girls between 12 and 16 years old, on Thursday, converged at Krispan Hotel, in Jos to protest incessant killings, religious intolerance, child labour, bulling in schools and rape in the state.
Project Coordinator of Search for Common Ground, Emmanuela Rita Atsen, said the youths were organised by Bezos Family Foundation to inculcate lost values in young persons of the two dominant religion.
She said the programme which was rounded up yesterday, started since July 2017 with the sole aim to engage and promote young boys and girls as positive agents of conflict transformation.
She said, “our aim is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of young girls and boys in transformative peace building and conflict resolution with the objective to promote the inclusion and active participation of girls and boys in transformative peace building and conflict resolution in their communities.
“This provided a safe space for youths from different ethno-religious backgrounds to enable young women and men to interact and learn more about leadership, peace building and communication as well as give them opportunity to find new areas of common ground across dividing lines”.
Goodness Odey, a student of Starlet High School Jos, said the programme has thought her the spirit of tolerance, brotherliness and wiped away hatred and negative perception she had about Muslims.
She explained that “52 Christians and Muslims, aged between 12 and 16 years were brought together from different schools and orphanages: we were thought about trauma awareness, resilience, dignity, respect, conflict resolution and transformation such as resolving conflicts through dialogue circle, transformative leadership, public speaking, advocacy and implemented community peace initiatives that promoted inter-cultural and inter-religious tolerance.”
Goodness said the youths also protest against incessant rape which has become common in the where elderly persons are defiled young girls without appropriate sanction.
“As we commit to contributing to peace in our society, we ask for support and cooperation from our parents, teachers, friends, religious leaders, and community leaders as we engage in conflict resolution within our homes, schools and communities,” she said.