Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "For over two years now, Plateau State has enjoyed happy and peaceful coexistence... but peace has unfortunately been rudely interrupted by the outburst of recent killings in Bassa Local Government between the Fulani and the Irigwe", denounces His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides. On October 16, at least 29 civilians, many of whom women and children, refugees in an elementary school, were brutally killed in Plateau State, by a group of armed men who attacked the building.
"The attacks come on the heels of a national spiritual gathering of Catholics all over Nigeria in Benin City to re-consecrate our dear Country to the Blessed Virgin Mother and pray for peace, unity and reconciliation among Nigerians", recalls the Archbishop.
"The occasion marked the conclusion of the centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima in 1917, when the world was experiencing the terrible effects of the First World", the Archbishop underlined.
Recalling the failed reconciliation attempt by the governor of
Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, Mgr. Kaigama points out that "it is however still not too late" to seek peace, highlighting the points of contact between the two populations.
"It is a fact that many Fulani speak the Irigwe language and many Irigwe speak the Fulani language which goes to show the long period of peaceful coexistence, but the events of the past week indicate that the peaceful, harmonious and fraternal coexistence has been severely wounded", the Archbishop says. "The two tribes offering the olive branch to each other is what can restore normalcy, healing, trust and confidence. The burial on Monday 16th October in Nkiedonwhro of 29 persons shows that a lot more needs to be done by both tribes to face their collective future with greater optimism".
"Our thoughts go to all those affected, with fervent prayers that God will grant them all the needed consolation and the ability to say “never again” to the destruction of human lives, animal lives, farm produce, houses and all others means of livelihood. May the dead rest in peace", says Mgr. Kaigama.
The Archbishop finally denounces the responsibility of the law enforcement in preventing the massacres: "It is so worrisome that despite the presence of security agents people could still be killed in a primary school where they took refuge, even during the hours of a curfew imposed on the Local Government".
The army is strengthening its military presence in the area and even the military airforce is deploying some fighters to try to block clashes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/10/2017)