From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi

Participants at a Peace Architecture Dialogue (PAD) meeting in Benue state has called for support of NGOs working in the state to ensure full implementation of the Benue Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law.

They said the full implementation of that law as well as the anti cultism law is a panacea to possible return of peace and order in all communities of Benue State.

They also called on government to create jobs for the growing population of youths in the country to curtail their their involvement in cult and other related crimes in the society.

The PAD meeting was organized by Search for Common Ground, an NGO funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands towards “Transforming the Herder/Farmer Conflict and Promoting the Freedom of Religion and Belief in Nigeria’s Middle Belt”.

The meeting has in attendance members of Miyethi Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria(MACBAN), led by their chairman, Zakari Mohammed, representatives of Benue State Planning Commission (BSPC), Mrs Nambativ Helen, the Benue State Vigilante Group, Dr Daniel Bo, AFAN, police, Civil Defense, DSS, Immigration and other stakeholders who pledged their commitment to the peace initiatives.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, James Agbo observed that if the Benue peoples open grazing prohibition law is faithfully obeyed as been implemented, peace will be inevitable in the state.

Mr Agbo encouraged the police and other security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities of ensuring that laws of the land are respected by all inhabitants, even as he urged ‘Search’ to take the sensitization to the rural areas.

The Ter Makurdi, Chief Sule Abenga employed NGOs such as Search and other peace advocates to adopt the Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law as a stand point to their peace crusade in Benue.

Chief Abenga expressed believe that NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, can help sensitize the people and concerned agencies towards advancing peace in the society.

He assured of the cooperation of the traditional institution at ensuring that the NGO records success in their set goals.Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police, Benue State. CP Mukaddas Garba noted that for peace to be achieved, the causes of crisis must be identified and tackled.

The Commissioner who was represented by the DCP. Ibrahim Zakari, identified some of the causes to include increase in the country’s population, use of  children as herders instead of experienced adults, encroachment  and destruction of farms and crops,  rustling among others.

He said the police have taken proactive measures, high visibility policing, patrols, stop and search and intelligence gathering to surmount the challenges

In a presentation titled, “Distinction between Cultism and Miscreant Activities to Breach of Peace in the State”, representative of the DSS, Benue Command, identified peer group influence, drug use, poor parenting, frustration, joblessness, laziness, thuggery, greed, and the like as major factors drawing the youth into cultism and other vices.

While commending the state open grazing prohibition law, called on government to create jobs for the youth to prevent them from becoming miscreants in the society.

He challenged the media to step up enlightenment programmes on the need for peaceful coexistence, even as he called for reorientation of students in the tertiary institutions against social vices.

Earlier, the State Project Coordinator for Search for Common Ground, Mr. Chorbe Joshua appreciated
participants for reconvening for the meeting saying their various contributions at ensuring the possible return of peace and the resolutions met at the meeting will enhance the next action plan of the organization.

Chorbe reiterated the role of the stakeholders towards the realization of sustainable peace in Benue state and urged the participants to synergy more across the different sectors; Government, Security agencies, Traditional rulers, NGOs and CSOs, religious and community leaders, youth and women associations, Persons with Disability and CSAD members.

“This will be a more appropriate avenue to exchange ideas and jointly develop action plans that would address issues faced in the communities.

He further stressed the importance of linking the CSAD issues to the PAD platform for more experts contributions and recommendation in resolving the herders/farmers conflict. He also sought for more collaboration across all structures on early warning response in Benue state.