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04/19/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Last week, on April 14, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong visited the Irigwe chiefdom to give his condolences for recent attacks and to talk about attempts to create peace in the area. Twelve Irigwe Christian communities have been attacked and displaced by Fulani militants from January 2022 to date. Over fifty Rigwe Christians have been killed, their houses burnt, and their crops destroyed.

ICC was present at the meeting with Governor Lalong. Also attending the meeting were numerous government officials, the Irigwe Traditional Council, Christian leaders, Irigwe youth, and many others at the Miango Rest Home.

The governor said he failed to do a project in Irigwe because of the insecurity. “I am here to condole with you,” said Lalong, “and to preach peace,” he added. In his remarks, he did not name the attackers.

The National President of the Irigwe Youth Movement, Ezekiel Bini, thanked the governor for his visit and asked him to ensure a ban on open grazing in Plateau State, especially in the Irigwe chiefdom. “This will help to end attacks,” Bini said, “and ensure all houses are rebuilt.”  Bini also stressed the need for “security in all the villages and farms.”

“We are peaceful people,” Bini told the Governor. “Our enemies are attacking us, but we never go on reprisal.”

Bini also asked the Governor to ensure that vigilantes—village guards—are empowered to tackle terrorism in the community and pleaded with the Governor to ensure the Jos to Miango road is completed. Lastly, Bini asked for the quick passage of the Ranching Bill currently in the Plateau State Assembly to deal with the issue of open grazing that is at the center of the attacks and displacement in the area.

Lalong said that he regretted the loss of lives and properties and the displacement of people and promised that the government would assist those displaced to get their homes back as well as continue to provide relief materials and support to those whose lives have been interrupted by the attacks. The Governor said that terror groups want to bring hunger to Christians by continuing to destroy farms.

In his remarks, Reverend Ronku Aka expressed gratitude to Governor Lalong for his commitment to restoring peace on Irigwe land despite the many setbacks experienced and attempts by some to discredit him.

He appealed to the Governor to use all his powers to ensure that anyone who breaches the terms of the agreement is dealt with according to the law so as to serve as a deterrent to others. His people, Reverend Aka said, are tired of the unwarranted attacks and losses.

The Chairman of the Irigwe Development Association, Mr. Robert Dodo, in his presentation, said that the security forces had done their best but still operated reactively rather than proactively. He also asked the government to resolve the boundary adjustments within the area, which, he said, is also a factor in the level of insecurity in the area.

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