Ganawuri has been spared the violence that has been part of Plateau state since September 7, 2001. This was not by accident as the Ganawuri people have certain values and traditions that discourage violence. For one, we don’t allow the shedding of innocent blood on our land, we don’t take booty during war, we don’t kill women or children or even the aged. Working with CAPP, the Atar Aten organized a series of peace activities five years ago to consolidate the peace using road shows, rallies and dialogue. We also established peace committees to report any tension, rumour or threats to the peace. We are also blessed with a Traditional Leader who believes in peace and dialogue and who has responded to every threat of violence by actively supporting dialogue.
This has worked very well till last Thursday March 21, 2013, when the Atakar people imported violence from Fadan Atakar in Kaduna state into Ganawuri. When they burnt Fulani houses that sad Thursday, the Atar Aten invited the STF, the Local Government Chairman and the Atakar and Fulani to help get to the roots of the violence and find a peaceful way of ending the violence. Yet the very next day, the violence escalated. Presently we are hosting both the Atakar and Fulani IDPs, feeding and caring for them.
What is very worrisome to the Aten people is the amount of arms displayed during this violence on both sides. Even the STF took some time before they could approach the theatre of this senseless war. The important question we are asking ourselves is , were these arms meant to wipe out the Aten people or what? The world must know that the Aten people have been under tremendous pressures from their neighbors to join the violence, which we have staunchly refused because we truly believe that this violence is avoidable and will not help anyone. We are serious farmers and have no influence in government. Because of our small population, it has been easy to ignore us, so we take our farming very seriously and we know as a fact that violence will not serve our interest.
There is an on-going campaign and conspiracy against the Aten for their stance against violence. We are sad that some of our religious leaders have been recruited into this ignoble army to destroy the peace loving Aten people, but we are confident that the God we serve never sleeps and Jesus never told us to kill in His name. What did He say about the Peace Makers? This campaign is shocking to us because no single religious group has visited Ganawuri to see for themselves, nor send words of support.
The Aten people have resolved to remain neutral in this conflict. First, because we do not know the source or the justification for this violence.Second, both the Atakar and Fulani have begged us to stay neutral. So who do those urging us to plunge into this senseless violence represent and
whose interest are they serving? Must the entire Plateau State collapse into violence? We thought Ganawuri was showing the way to make the peace and return prosperity to the state. So why the gang up, why the scheming to flood the Ganawuri peace valley with the blood of the peace loving people of Aten?
Jesus the Prince of Peace will not allow it!
Chom Bagu, President of the Aten Development Association