By John Akinfehinwa
A renowned cleric, Bishop Joshua Gwatana Zhiya has cried out over the lingering communal crisis between Bassa, Kogi and Toto Local Government Areas of Kogi and Nassarawa States.
Bishop Zhiya who spoke to Journalists on Friday, against the backdrop of the existing fragile peace in the areas, said the lingering feud between the Bassas and Igburras was not healthy for meaningful development.
Zhiya who is in charge of Goshen Royal Covenant Church, Lokoja, called on both the Federal and Kogi State government to enforce lasting peace between the aggrieved parties in the two states.
While acknowledgeding that the government has been trying its best in ensuring peace in the areas, noted that more is needed to be done to entrench permanent peace which can attract development to both areas.
The Clergyman noted that the crisis reached its peak in January 1999 leading to the burning of houses, business premises and the loss of hundreds of lives.
He maintained that the situation has stampeded development in both Council Areas in Kogi and Nassarawa State.
Continuing, Zhiya said ” Hundreds of indigenous residents in Nassarawa and Kogi State have lost their lives while properties worth millions of naira have been lost as a result of this crisis. Since these two states share a boundary, the communities have been at loggerheads with each other.
“Because of fear, these indigenes cannot return to their homes because of fear of attack. The two state governments should come up with a template to put an end to this communal crisis. If urgent action is not put in place, it might snowball into something else which might go out of control”
He averred that both the Federal and State government should set up a reconciliatory committee made up of traditional, political and religious leaders to bring both the feuding sides of Bassa and Igburra to a round table peaceful talk.
He called on the Federal government to give more support to the existing military formations at Oguma in Kogi State and Toto towns in Nassarawa State to entrench permanent peace in the Areas.
The clergy also called on the Kogi State government to rehabilitate Odenyi – Oguma – Abejukolo road to beef up security in the Areas.