*He says hatred, suspicion must be done away with
*Conflict denigrated rule of law, equity, justice, says Bishop Hammawa
By Daniel Tyokua
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has pleaded with the Tub and Jukun in Benue and Taraba states to sheath their sword and embrace peace.
He also described the protracted conflict as “a stubborn boil that refused to go away”, saying killings and destruction have no place in human existence.
He spoke on “Tiv and Jukun Women: Veritable Instruments in the Search for Peaceful Co-existence” at a Women Peace-building Conference in Abuja organised by the Foundation for Peace, Hope and Conflicts Management (FPHCM) on Thursday.
He noted that “suspicion, distrust and hatred are so strong that some Jukun and Tiv people have become allergic to the name of the other”.
Bishop Kaigama called on them to avoid prejudice and stigmatization, but to see themselves as one image in God.
Archbishop Kaigama commended the gathering of Tiv and Jukun Women to seek solution to the protracted conflict, describing the development as “a very positive step and a wonderful boost to peaceful co-existence among the two ethnic groups”.
He told them: “Dear Jukun and Tiv women, please tell your children, husbands to drop their arms.
“They should avoid prejudice and stigmatization and learn to forgive and see in one another the image and likeness of God”.
He called for deep examination of ethnic “historical factors such as colonialism, the reality of the Kwararafa Kingdom and the sensitivity of ethnic identity”, pointing out that it is a tragedy that Jukun and Tiv people kept moving along parallel lines, each claiming to be right and to be the victims each time crisis occur.
He also urged the clergy, traditional and community leaders to “avoid getting sentimental, or taking sides” but to use the advantage of theological studies and quality cultural practices, to stand apart from parochially divisive narratives that strain relationships.
Kaigama advocated more moderate and reconciliatory utterances or statement from political leaders, traditional and religious leaders and elders who should speak the language of peace instead of war.
In his opening address, the Bishop of Jalingo diocese, Most Rev. Charles Hammawa, noted that “conflicts undermines social trust, the rule of law, human rights and ultimately give license to impunity”.
Represented by a lecturer at the Veritas University, Rev. Dr. Peter Kamai, lamented that homes and communities have been destroyed, and thereby exposing their peoply to increasing poverty, crime and exploitation.
He said that in pursuing peace and development, the role played by women remains crucial “as women suffered most in places affected by conflicts, and so remain the agent and catalysts of change who make a durable peace possible.
“Please, women of Benue and Taraba state, rise up and write your names in gold and contribute to building trust, acceptance and peace among the fighting ethnic groups in our States.
“Prevail in whatever means to stopping this protracted carnage, an ill wind that blows no good to anyone o group,” he urged them.
Earlier the Executive Director of the Foundation for Peace, Hope and Conflicts Management (FPHCM), Rev. Prof. Anthony Bature, explained that the aim of the conference was to assist the women undergo series of workshops and seminar to be equipped with the knowledge of peace-building.
According to him, “the women that would be endorsed as Peace Ambassadors at the end of the conference will carry out research to other women at the grassroots level, assist with the data collection aspect, and report to the field teams after which the reports will be harmonized and published for reference purposes”.
FPHCM was established in 2019 with the soul aim of having a society where peace, justice, trust and harmonious co-existance prevail.