President Muhammadu Buhari has called for dialogue to achieve sustainable peace in Plateau State following recent attacks in the state.
The President made the call in an interactive session with stakeholders in the state on Monday at Government House, Jos.
The Nigerian Inter-religious Council and members of the Nigerian Governors Forum also attended the meeting aimed at seeking lasting solutions to the insecurity in the state.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the President said that to attain the process of peace, “the strategy must be inclusive, diverse and transparent and sustained”.
He stressed the importance of the critical role of traditional, religious and community leaders in galvanising peace, and commended Governor Simon Lalong for establishing the inter-religious council in the state.
He said the objective of the meeting was to lay the foundation for the execution of dialogue to facilitate ethnoreligious tolerance, justice, strengthen the confidence of the people and end the cycle of violence in the state through collaborations.
Buhari said at the end of the interactive forum, it was expected that substantial assurance would be realised to restore peace and dispense justice.
“Assurance that government remains determined to continue to protect all peaceful law-abiding citizens and their communities.
“Assurance that the government is determined to continue to promote peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance through dialogue and engagement.
“Assurance and determination of the government to apprehend and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
He condoled with Lalong and the people of Plateau over the recent attacks, describing the loss of lives, livelihoods and properties perpetuated by criminals as inhumane.
The President assured the people of the state that his administration was determined to put an end to the insecurity by ensuring justice to the perpetrators, adding that more security personnel were deployed to the state as part of the efforts.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, commiserated with Lalong over the recent attacks, urging him not to be distracted in the pursuit of peace and mutual understanding among groups in the state.
He called for justice to the perpetrators of the evil acts to serve as a deterrent to others, saying, “the path of peace is justice, and the path of justice is equity and inclusion”.
In their remarks, the Co-Chairmen of NIREC, the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; and the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Olasupo Olakunle called for mutual understanding and religious tolerance amongst the two major religions in Nigeria.
The Sultan said, “No religion preaches violence, anyone that does it is going straight to hell”.
He noted that some religious leaders used their platforms to make inciting comments to their followers and urged them to desist from such acts, adding that perpetrators of attacks should be publicly prosecuted.
Similarly, the CAN President called for quick dispensation of justice, and also charged security agencies to step up their efforts in the discharge of their duties.
He urged the government to improve on its surveillance and intelligence gathering technology approaches to enable it to track criminals and their hideouts.
He appealed to Plateau people to love one another, saying they should allow God and law enforcement agencies to handle security situations.
Olakunle also appealed to the government to take care of the plight of victims of the attacks and called for concerted efforts to address the security situation in the state.
In his remarks, Lalong at the end of a closed-door session, thanked Buhari and his colleagues for their support, saying he would deal with religious leaders who made hate speeches.
He said peace was critical for rapid development in the state while calling on religious leaders and the people of the state to intensify prayers for the restoration of sustainable peace in the state
Other governors that attended the event were Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger State and Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.