From right, Rev Frederick AG Onoja, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Zone 3 Benue state, speaking at a town hall meeting organised by the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) in Uturkpo at the weekend. Listening are Head of the IDFP Advocacy Team to the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Yahaya; Nigeria’s Country Expert for KAICIID Dialogue Centre, Joseph Atang; Elder Sunday Oibe and Dr Haroun O. Ajah. PHOTO: IDFP
Muslims and Christians in Benue state on Thursday declared that there is mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among them, saying the current killings in the state have nothing to do with violence.
Speaking when members of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) visited the headquarters of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at 2km Gboko Road Makurdi, the state capital, the CAN Chairman, Rev Augustine Leva, noted that both adherents of the two faiths enjoy harmony.
“We have no problem amongst us as we have in time past collaborated and work together for peace. When we staged a protest in support of the anti-grazing bill assented by Governor Samuel Ortom, we worked as a united force.
“We have always received invitations from our Muslim brothers during Ramadan to breakfast with them. We have an excellent relationship with them. We understanding one another very well and we all are united for peace.
“The only problem we have here in Benue is people coming to kill us in order to take over our lands. We have complained and we hope that your advocacy visit here will go a long way to assist us tackle this problem,” Leva said.
On what measures to be adopted to end the killings, the state CAN Chairman disclosed that the best way to end the herders/farmers’ clashes is for Fulani to adopt ranching of their cows.
On his part, the Chairman of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in Benue State, Alhaji Garba Baba (AGB), said as far as Benue State was concerned, there is no conflict between adherents of both religions in the state.
“I have three wives. Two of them are Idoma, and one is Tiv woman. We all are living in peace and we have no problem whatsoever. Sometime the media misinform the people and that s why we do have some misconception,” the JNI state chairman added.
The secretary of JNI, Alhaji Baba Ahmed, delivered a written submission to the team on ways of ending the killings. He welcomed the IDFP team to Benue and expressed hope that the visit will lead to resolution of the crisis.
Speaking earlier at the CAN state headquarters and later at the JNI headquarters, Head of the IDFP delegation, Alhaji Ibrahim Yahaya, said the team was in the state to rub minds on how to end the current crisis in the state. He said IDFP is being supported in its works by the Vienna-based KAICIID Dialogue Centre in promoting peace and dialogue in resolving crisis.
Among those I n attendance were Nigeria’s Country Expert for KAICIID Dilaogue Centre, Joseph Atang and Chairman of the Local Organsing Committee, Professor Peter Agogo, Alhaji (Dr) Haroun O Ajah, among several others.