From Gyang Bere, Jos
The Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Gyang Buba, has urged youths in Plateau to unite across ethnic and religious divides in order to end the circle of killings in the state.
The chairman, Plateau Council of Chiefs and Emirs, gave the advice at an event to commemorate the September 7, 2001 Jos crisis in Jos, yesterday.
A religious crisis erupted in Jos in 2001, where many were killed, scores injured and properties worth billions destroyed.
The event, organised by the Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), had the theme: “Our Plateau, Our Shared Experiences.”
The king said that the killings in the state had lingered due to the inability of young people to put aside their ethnic and religious differences and promote peaceful coexistence.
The traditional ruler, who insisted that no tribe in the state could exist in isolation, called on young people to take the lead in promoting love and togetherness.
“First, we must know that there can never be progress without peace and secondly, no tribe can survive without the other.
“We need each other to exist; we also need peace for our society to grow and develop.
“This simply means that we must learn to live together and for this to happen, young people must unite across ethnic and religious lines to move this state and country forward,” he said.
The Gbong Gwom also admonished the youths to stay away from drug abuse and other social vices, noting that such unwholesome attitudes had led many young people into crimes.
He urged religious and community leaders to preach peace, love and encourage their followers against all forms of criminal activities.
“Consumption of illicit drugs is one of the major issue destroying our youth and leading them into killing others
“So, I want to appeal to youths of Plateau to say no to drugs and bad influences that will lead you into doing evil,” he appealed.
Director-General of PPBA, Mr Joseph Lengmang, said the event was organised to reflect on ways to find lasting solution to crisis in the state.
The D-G decried continuous killings and wanton destruction of properties in some parts of the state and said residents must resolve to love in peace.
“No amount of military boots, policing, preaching from Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ja’amatu Nasril Islam (JNI) or even external intervention can restore peace on the Plateau.
“In the past 20 years, we have had a fear share of crisis in Plateau, lives were touched and properties were also lost.
“So, we have put this event together to reflect on where we were, where we are and where we want to be.
“We are here to interact as a people to reason together toward a peaceful and progressive Plateau that we wish to bequeath for the generation yet unborn.”
Lengmang explained that the event was supported by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP).
Speaking on behalf of USIP, Dr. Chris Kwaja commended PPBA for organising the event aimed at entrenching peace in Plateau.
Kwaja further advised that beyond dialogue, government should invest more on peace building than security.
He also urged government and the security agencies to intensify arrest and prosecution of criminals, and urged that criminal justice administration in Nigeria should be strengthened.