By Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
The Plateau State Inter-Religious Council (IRC) on Monday said Government and Religion are on trial in the public court of the state.
The IRC equally said the two religions (Christianity and Islam) that made up the membership of the Council are on trial by the same Public Court, “because, they too have been accused of being the source of the crises that have bedeviled the state since 2001 in particular”.
This was disclosed by the co-chairman of the Council, Rev. Pandang Yamsat, while delivering his address at the inaugural meeting of the IRC, held in Jos, the State Capital.
It would be recalled that Governor Simon Lalong had on the 8th February, 2021, while inaugurating the IRC said, “The inauguration of this non-partisan body is a further demonstration of our administration’s commitment to repairing the broken social fabric of our society through the provision of a structured platform for religious, community, youth and women leaders to play active roles in fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between citizens regardless of ethnic and religious differences.
He stressed that working closely with the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, the State Inter-religious Council will critically think through issues and build consensus on challenges that threaten “freedom, tolerance and peace”.
The Co-Chairmen of the Inter-religious Council are Rev. Pandang Yamsat, former COCIN President and His Royal Highness Alh. Sambo Haruna, Emir of Wase and Chairman JNI, in the State.
The members of the Council cut across Christians and Muslims adherence.
Meantime Yamsat said, “I tagged this address, Government and Religion on Trial in Plateau State. They are on trial by the Plateau Public Court.
“Even though the present government has gone extra mile in the area of peaceful co-existence with full determination and has further shown this by inaugurating the Plateau Inter-Religious Council to make Plateau truly ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’, the Plateau public is still on the watch to see if government is going at it to its logical conclusion.
“Government is on trial by the ‘Plateau Public Court’, because government and its security outfits have been accused of being complicit in the growing security crises in Nigeria.
According to him, “People say this from the premise that it is inconceivable that terrorists and armed bandits can outrun a nation’s or state security outfit.
“But by establishing an Inter-Religious Council, composed of eminent spiritual leaders, government is demonstrating that its security outfits and governing authorities will muster the requisite political will to bring this menace to an end”, he explained.
The Co-chairman added that, “In addition, the two religions that compose this Council are on trial by the same Public Court, because, they too have been accused of being the source of the crises that have bedeviled the state since 2001 in particular.
“This widely held view has led the public to tag the seemingly unending crises, ‘religious crises’ since inception.
“If the Council members work as a team and in harmony and partner with the government to achieve the desired objective, both government and religion will be acquitted by the Plateau Public Court of being the source of lack of peace on the Plateau.
Yamsat further stated that, ” Government has established this Council with the responsibility of fostering peace in the state on a 50-50 basis and not based on population of followers to tell us members that we must work as a team and not base on who wins or lose as we partner with government and its security agents to ensure that the good are rewarded and the wrong are punished so as to ensure that peace and peaceful co-existence reign in Plateau at all cost, as God will want it.
“And we Council members by agreeing with the 50-50 composition, we are agreeing that the Council is not going to be a forum for win or lose by any group, but to mutually deliberate on issues bordering on peace and peaceful co-existence with true religious eye or divine touch.
“This means that this Council should be in a position to identify the religious, political, ethnic, cultural and economic nature of the crises and proffer solution and make recommendations to government what is in her power to deal with”, he maintained.
In his remarks, the Director General Plateau Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang, said some of the issues that could have led the crises that have bedeviled the state might not be religious, but was given a religious connotation.
Lengmang urged the Council to ensure that the solutions/recommendations it will give will bring lasting peaceful co-existence among the citizenry.