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Task Force ‘will not rest until Farmers-Herders Crisis ends in Plateau’

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

The Commander of the Special Military Task Force (STF) in Plateau State, Major General Augustine Agundu has reiterated the determination of the force to ensure that the menace of farmer/herders clashes which had hindered development and socio-economic harmony in the Plateau is brought to an end.

This is just as the Plateau State Police Commissioner, CP Isaac Akinmoyede said that the Police would work in synergy with the military to end the farmers-herders crisis.

Both security chiefs spoke at a training workshop in Jos on Wednesday with the theme ‘Transforming the farmers-herders conflict and promoting freedom of religions’ and belief in Nigeria’s Middle Belt’.

The workshop was organized for media practitioners by the Search for Common Ground (SFGC), a non-governmental organization working to prevent violence and destruction of lives and property from protracted conflicts in the country.

According to the STF Commander, the two commands were working very hard in partnership with other sister security agents and other stakeholders to restore permanent peace in Plateau state.

Agundu who was represented at the event by his deputy, Emma Ado, vowed that the federal troops stationed in the state would not rest until permanent peace was achieved in Plateau.

His said: “We are happy that this kind of training is coming at this time because we are all stakeholders in peace. Looking at what Plateau used to be in terms of violence and what obtains presently, you will agree that violent conflicts have reduced drastically among the people. Even during the recent election, there was no violence in the state.

“So, for us at the Operation Safe Haven, we are working hard to end farmers-herders conflict in Plateau State and if an election could be conducted in the state and no gunshot was fired or anybody was killed, it means that achieving peace between the farmers and the herders is also possible.”

On his part, Plateau State CP, represented by DCP Aliyu Tafida stressed the need for stakeholders, particularly the journalists, to cooperate with security agencies by promoting peaceful coexistence between farmers and herders in their reportage so as not to erode the gains already recorded in the state and other parts of the country.

Also speaking, the Director General of Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Mr. Joseph Lengmang, said the role of the media on peace building cannot be over emphasized, saying that Journalists have played major role in dousing the crisis between herdsmen and farmers.

He said, “We cannot compare the crisis of 2008 that engulfed Plateau to what we are experiencing today. The crisis is being better managed and what we are hoping is to consolidate on peace effort already on ground.

He said the promotion of peace should not be left in the hands of government alone, adding that organizations should continue to engage the media on peace journalism.

Further, the Senior Program Manager and Head of Office Middle Belt, SFCG, Mrs. Falade Olutoyin, posited that the overall goal of the workshop is to “contribute to preventing violence and the destruction of lives and properties resulting from protracted violent conflicts between farmers and herders while combating impunity and promoting the freedom of religion and belief in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria”.

Meanwhile, Major General Agundu used the occasion to commend a Non-governmental Organization known as Search for Common Ground (SFCG), for engaging Journalists on a 3-day Conflict Sensitive Training on farmers/herders reportage.

He said the training could not have come at a better time than now, when the State is consolidating on the relative peace gained as a result of the hard work from security agencies.

Agundu said: “This workshop couldn’t have come at a better time than now when peace is being consolidated”.

On his part, the Director General, Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA), Mr. Joseph Lengmang, said the role of the media on peace building cannot be over emphasized, saying that Journalists have played major role in dousing the crisis between herdsmen and farmers.

“We cannot compare the crisis of 2008 that engulfed Plateau to what we are experiencing today. The crisis is better managed and what we are hoping is to consolidate on peace effort already on ground.

Olutoyin explained that the (project) workshop which is funded by Kingdom of the Netherlands, is been implemented in selected local government areas in three states; Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue, all located in central Nigeria, which has been embroiled in the violence and the loss of human lives and property as a result of farmers/herders conflicts.


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