By Thompson Yamput
Jos – As stakeholders intensify efforts to curtail attacks on Plateau communities, lawyers in the state have cautioned its elites against allowing themselves to be used to cause disaffection among the ethnic groups.
The lawyers, under the aegis of the United Mwaghavul Lawyers Association, in a statement on Sunday in Jos, noted that all ethnic groups were victims of the attacks, and advised the elites to desist from actions that could pit the victims against each other.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the lawyers were reacting to a recent press briefing by Chief Sylvanus Lot, former Secretary to the Plateau government.
Lot, who addressed newsmen in Jos on behalf of “Plateau Patriots’’, had blamed a particular ethnic group for the invasion of the Plateau Government House, Rayfield, Jos by women and youths protesting the continued attacks.
He also blamed the ethnic group for the attack on Governor Simon Lalong’s convoy when he visited one of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), camp at Anguldi, in Jos South, on July 14.
The IDPs, who had alleged continued neglect by the governor, had hurled stones at the convoy, damaging some vehicles in the process.
Lot further alleged that there were political motives behind the invasion of the Government House and the attack on the governor, claiming that they were carried out “with the active involvement of some highly placed people’’.
He threatened that his organisation shall mobilise other ethnic groups against any tribe that resorted to violence while reacting to the attacks on rural communities.
But the lawyers, in the statement signed by two Trustees of their association – Messrs Philemon Dafi and Alfred Danbaba – described Lot’s claims as “strange and worrisome’’.
“We, as Mwaghavul lawyers, are worried about such provocative and highly emotional statements made by Lot, a Mwaghavul elder.
“We are also disturbed about the factual inaccuracies contained in the claims and have been wondering what purpose they were intended to serve.
“As critical stakeholders of the Mwaghavul nation, we wish to dissociate ourselves from both the content and motive of Lot’s claims, and wish to tell the world that the lingering crises on the Plateau is targeted at the entire state,’’ it said.
The statement pointed out that “any attempt to pit one Plateau ethnic nationality against the other is a trap the enemy of our common heritage will like us to buy into, to our collective detriment’’.
The lawyers declared that the Mwaghavul nation would always share the pains and anguish of every victim of attack in the state “no matter his tribe’’, asserting that “the statement by our elder is not representative of the thinking of the Mwaghavul nation.’’
“Anyone conversant with the happenings on the Plateau cannot attempt to limit the violence to one particular ethnic nationality because virtually all the groups have been hit at one point or the other.
“The attackers have hit every part – the Irigwe people in Bassa, the Ganawuri in Riyom, the Mwaghavul in Mangu, the Tarok in Langtang, the Goemai in Shendam and the Ron/Kulere in Bokkos, where a First Class Chief was killed in 2016. No one has been spared.
“As a people, we must resist every provocation and inducement to turn against ourselves; we should not dissipate energy on name calling. We must unite and protect each other,’’ they advised.
The lawyers said that Lot’s claims were contradictory, wondering how he could acknowledge that all tribes were affected by the crisis, only to turn round and single out one group as responsible for the protests against the attacks.
While condemning mob reactions to attacks on some communities, they however, said that it was “not right’’ to see them as politically motivated.
“Such stance may lead to sacrificing the truth on the altar of political correctness,’’ the lawyers opined.
The association appealed to elders in crises-ridden communities to always prevail on angry youths not to turn their anger on innocent passengers, and urged stakeholders to sincerely dig into the root causes of the attacks and proffer solutions.
It urged Plateau elders to initiate measures that would ensure the immediate return of the IDPs to their respective homes “considering the horrible state of the 31 IDPs camps spread across Mangu, Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, Riyom and Jos South Local Governments’’.
The lawyers appealed to genuine Plateau patriots to “do everything humanly possible’’ to unite the people toward building a peaceful and prosperous state.