On 20th October, 2020, violence broke out in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, following weeks of protests by youths demanding the dissolution of the Federal Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
At least three people were killed and two worship centers burnt, but somewhere in Gyel, a completely Christian community in Jos South Local Government Area, locals shielded 13 Muslim youths until tensions subsided, and officially handed them to their leaders in Bukuru.
Touched by this, the Plateau State Peace Building Agency says it is planning a special honor for the community.
“This is a rare act of honor,” said the Director General of the Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengman on Monday, during a visit to the District Head of Gyel, Da. Dr. Nga Dangyang.
What happened in Gyel district is exemplary, said Mr. Lengmang. In the past, he said, “When misunderstanding occurs between Christians and Muslims in Plateau State, you’d only hear of bloodshed but what happened here is encouraging.
“For you to shield those 13 that got a place to stay in Gyel shows we have learned from our mistakes in the past. It is a new chapter that we have opened for peace in this state and the Governor is impressed with it.
“Three years ago in Gashish, an Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abdullahi did same. For it to happen again shows we are evolving. People are ready to even lay their lives for others, including erstwhile enemies.”
There is nothing greater than peace, added Barr. Auwal Abdullahi, the Executive Secretary, Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Jos.
“Without peace, we can’t carry out our daily businesses. Even religious exercises we can’t carry them out, and that is why this rare act of kindness by Gyel Community is worth celebrating,” said the Pilgrims Official.
The Leader of Lyoh-Gyel Community, Mr. Gyang Jatau Doji, in whose house the Muslim youths were shielded, said he felt obligated to preserve life based on his Christian teaching and relationship with Muslims.
“Once upon a time I shielded some two Muslim kids when conflicts broke out in Kerana. Another time here in Gyel, when there was conflict, I did same. It is second nature for us. This is what our Christian faith teaches, to preserve and not take life. After all, I’ve related with Muslims a lot. The man that first gave me ticket to Israel is a Muslim.”
The District Head of Gyel and Chairman, Jos South Traditional Council, Dr. Nga Dangyang blamed tribalism for the reoccurring violence in the State.
According to him, Christians and Muslims have more in common than their perceived differences.
“Islam and Christianity were brought to us by foreigners. Before then, we were all idol worshippers. Why then do we hate each other? Why can’t we coexist like before? Why can’t we break borders and restore that old mutual relationship?” he queried.
The Community Leader of Bukuru, Chindo Abdullahi, Chairman of Berom Youth Movement in Gyel, Mr. Chomo Emershal, that of Berom Cultural and Educational Organization, Mr. Yohanna Jok, and a Women leader, Mrs. Naomi Yohanna called for an end to drug abuse, kidnapping and farmland destructions to further peace and harmonious coexistence in the State.