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‘Injustice, fight over scarce resources, others are factors responsible for North-east conflict’

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in the North-East say socio-economic and political factors are responsible for most of the conflicts experienced in the sub-region.

In their responses to a survey conducted by newsmen in Bauchi,Yola,Gombe and Maiduguri, Dutse and Damaturu, Co-coordinators of the organisations said some of the conflicts were avoidable.

The stakeholders lamented the colossal loss of lives and property but expressed satisfaction with the cooperation they had been receiving in their effort to restore peace to the sub-region.

“Most of the crises are attributable to the economy generally; people are fighting over scarce resources.

“Again, the society is structured in a way that there is no justice and where there is no justice, there is bound to be threat to lives and property,” noted Mr Haruna Salisu, Chairman, Better Life Respiration Initiative, Bauchi.

Salisu said that such crises had negative affect on the political and socio-economic lives of the people, thereby retarding development.

“During such crises, the rural dwellers do not go to farm and cannot relate with their family members and counterparts,” he said.

According to him, under such situation, the CSOs are the “natural link” and they act as mediators in all aspects.

“This is because CSOs have general acceptance, especially where they resist taking side in a conflict situation,” he added.

Voicing the same opinion, Mr Sidi Ali of Bauchi Christians and Muslims Peace Movement, attributed the causes of most crises to unemployment, ignorance, poverty and radical preaching by some religious leaders.

He said his organisation had embarked on sensitising the public through media chats and jingles, as well as organizing forums where religious leaders talked to warring parties on the dangers of crises and radical preaching.

“CSOs always have wide acceptance due to the transparent posture they always adopt during mediation,” he said.

Dr. Umar Bindir, Secretary to Adamawa State Government said the state lost over N200 billion worth of property to Boko-Haram insurgency and communal clashes.

“We have about 81 different ethnic groups in the state and on monthly basis, we are experiencing and managing communal crises.

“Some of the crises are based on farmland dispute, while others are between farmers and pastoralists but the worst of the crises is Boko Haram insurgency, when seven local government areas of the state were temporarily occupied by the insurgents,” Bindir said.

On the involvement of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the management of the conflicts, Mrs Charity Garba, North East Coordinator, Inter-faith Mediation Centre, Yola, said her organization had intervened and settled many conflicts in communities within the state.

“We had been succeeding in resolving most conflicts because the rival parties believe in us and our neutrality; once the neutrality of is not in question, 80 per cent of your mission stands accomplished.

“In Michika and some parts of Madagali Local Government Areas, the organisation played a key role in bringing together, Muslim and Christian communities to dialogue and understand one another over contentious issues.

“The core objective of the organization is to enlighten the affected communities to live with one another in peace, trust and harmony,” Garba said.

Mr. Musa Umar, the Communication Field Officer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yola office, said from January to April 2017, the organization had resolved conflicts and re-united families who were separated as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

Musa said that the families were re-united following several contacts made by the organisation through telephones, photos and other available means.

“From January to April, 2017, we re-united 10 families from North-Eastern Nigeria, after they were separated and lost contact due to conflicts.

“Among them, three were cross-border cases,” Musa said.

In Gombe, Malam Garba Mohammad, Rescue and Rehabilitation officer, State Emergency Management Agency, said the state had been grappling with communal clashes that had affected socio-economic activities in the state.

He listed Billiri and Shongom Local Government areas as flash-points, identifying the distortion of history on land ownership as the major cause of the conflicts.

He said whenever there was conflict, SEMA collaborated with Child Protection Network, a Non- Governmental Organization, to bring together, stakeholders, to broker peace.

“Most times, we succeed in making the warring parties sheath their sword for some time, after which efforts are made to find a lasting solution to the problem,” he said.

Mr Bachama Yusuf, Coordinator of a Gombe-based association, Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, said the organization had been playing significant role in resolving conflicts whenever there were crises.

According to him, the organization has initiated football competitions between rival communities, as well as encouraged stakeholders meetings, to promote understanding and reconciliation.

Borno, being the state worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, experienced unprecedented displacement of people, as well as loss of lives and property, with 22 out of the 27 local government areas of the state, affected.

Newsmen checks indicated that the magnitude of the crisis attracted about 100 local and international organizations, working in areas of conflict resolution, as well as education, healthcare, economic empowerment and environmental sanitation, among others.

Mr peter Mancha, the UN WOMEN Program Manager in the state, said his agency was collaborating with UNICEF and other Civil Society Organisations to enhance support for women affected by insurgency.

He said that the organization had initiated a three-year programme tagged: “Promoting Women’s Engagement in peace and Security in Northern Nigeria.

Alhaji Abdullahi Suleiman, Deputy Commandant of Jigawa Vigilante Group, said their group engaged in purely humanitarian activities, with emphasis on ensuring security of lives and conflict resolution.

Suleiman said that the organisation mediated in conflicts between communities, families, groups and individuals.

“We always achieve results in conflict resolution without anybody going to seek redress in court of law,” he said.

Speaking on the damages incurred by Yobe as a result of the Boko-haram insurgency, Alhaji Abubakar Ali, the state deputy governor, said at a recent function in Kukareta village of the state that over 300,000 people were displaced and property worth N30 billion destroyed.

He said that in order to manage the crisis, Yobe government established a Resettlement, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation committee, to complement the efforts of the State Emergency Management Agency.



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