Gbong Gwom Jos, Jacob Buba Gyang
By Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan’s fresh efforts at resolving the ethno-religious clashes in Plateau State may be heading for the rocks as major stakeholders have disagreed over the implementation of reports of previous probe panels considered critical to finding lasting peace to the perennial crisis in the state.
At the second stanza of his exploratory meeting with major stakeholders in the Plateau crisis, which ended in the early hours of Thursday at the State House, Hausa-Fulani leaders, who held talks with the president, disagreed with their Berom counterparts on the implementation of the reports of commissions of inquiry and other probe panels previously set up by the federal and state governments on the crisis.
Northern elders of Berom extraction, led by former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs, Jacob Buba Gyang, who is Gbong Gwom Jos, at the first leg of the meeting with Jonathan on Monday night, had told the president that the implementation of recommendations of all past probe panel reports would help in ensuring justice for the victims of the ethno-religious clashes.
Both meetings are to precede a larger meeting of all the stakeholders in the Plateau crisis aimed at finding a lasting solution to the frequent clashes between the Hausa-Fulani and the Berom. The National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), is supervising the latest peace initiative.
However, when the Hausa-Fulani met with the president late Wednesday night, they advised the Federal Government against implementing the recommendations of all past probe panel reports.
Rather, they canvassed for the implementation of the recommendations of only two committees out of the five that had examined the crisis.
The five committees, dating from 1994 to 2010, are: the Justice Aribiton Fiberisima Commission of Inquiry into the April 12, 1994 crisis in the Jos metropolis; Justice Niki Tobi Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Civil Disturbances in Jos and its environs of September 2001; Prince Bola Ajibola Commission of Inquiry into the November 2008 Crisis; Abisoye Panel of Inquiry of 2009 and the Solomon Lar Presidential Administrative Panel.
A representative of the Hausa-Fulani leaders and former Minister of State for Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, who spoke with State House correspondents after the three-hour meeting with Jonathan, said they demanded that only the recommendations of the Abisoye and Solomon Lar reports should be implemented.
He based their position on the fact that the reports of the three other panels are moribund and sub judicial, adding that to the Hausa-Fulani, the reports of the panels of inquiry set up by the Plateau State Government are not implementable.
The group expressed hope that the Federal Government would make use of the outcome of the meeting to decide on what next to do ahead of the expanded meeting with other stakeholders.
The Abisoye panel, whose report is yet to be made public, a source said, had looked into the issue of the involvement of federal agencies in the Plateau crisis in addition to the use of weapons and alleged use of mercenaries in the conflicts.
THISDAY checks revealed that the panel might have recommended that government should investigate the use of weapons by its organs and whether or not foreign nationals were brought to participate in the crisis.
On its part, the Lar Committee, in its 20-point recommendations, stressed the need for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, creation of new local government areas and districts in Jos North Local Government Area, an epicentre of the crisis, and the adoption of zoning and power rotation among the ethnic groups in the local government.
It also recommended that grazing reserve should be established in addition to finding a legal way to resolve the volatile problem of indigene-settler dichotomy.
Explaining further their discussion with the president, Nakande said: "We discussed and agreed to a large extent that most of the commissions of inquiry, especially those set up by the Plateau State Government, have lost contemporary relevance.
“But we have confidence in the ones set up by the Federal Government, especially the General Abisoye report as well as the advisory committee on Jos crisis headed by Solomon Lar. The rest (of the reports) are in fact, sub-judice and therefore cannot be implemented."
He said the Hausa-Fulani regarded the meeting as another initiative towards finding lasting solution to the protracted crisis in Plateau State, especially, within Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas.
"The discussion was the way forward, how best to tackle the crisis in such a way as to enhance tolerance, accommodation and respect for one another so that at the end of it all, the conflicts would have been put behind us. We also discussed mechanisms with which government will help to put in place so that each time there are conflicts, ways and means of resolving the conflicts amicably would have been used to resolve them," he added.
On his part, the protem National Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Sale Bayari, called on the Federal Government to settle the indigene-settler dichotomy once and for all.
“The Fulani also want the Federal Government to help resolve conflict between cattle rearers and farmers, which has been at the centre of the crisis. We have appealed to Mr. President to address this issue,” Bayari said.
He listed areas where he advised government to concentrate on as: Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Bassa Local Government Areas, adding: “the Federal Government should try and ensure that the conflicts are resolved. It is because we have the grazing reserves in those areas and with the grazing reserves, there is conflict between cattle rearers and farmers but with the intervention of government, it will be reduced to a minimal level; and when that is done, we are sure that the issue of conflict will be reduced also.”