The Gbong Gwom of Jos and Chairman of the Plateau Council of Chiefs, Jacob Buba Gyang, has said on Friday that the state governors do not have the authority to redefine traditional boundaries.
According to Jacob: “I am not aware of any authority by a governor to redefine traditional boundaries. Government cannot redefine boundaries where there is no problem”.
The Chief, who spoke at the “Nzem Berom 2019”, an annual cultural festival of the Berom ethnic group of Plateau, was reacting to a Thursday circular in which the state government established two traditional councils out of the Jos Traditional Council.
The establishment of the two traditional councils – Jos North and Riyom – has effectively whittled down the powers of the paramount ruler who superintends traditional rulers in the four local governments that make up the Jos Joint Traditional Council.
With the split, the Gbong Gwom is left with only two local governments – Jos South and Barkin-Ladi.
According to the circular, the Attah Aten of Ganawuri will chair the Riyom Traditional Council, while the Chiefs of Anaguta and Afizere would be in charge of the two traditional stools in Jos North.
Jacob continued by saying: “There has been government pronouncement and actions to do with the traditional institution even when there was no problem. We have no problem with our neighbours and we have been in peace with one another.
“The traditional boundaries existed even before the existence of Nigeria as a country and every tribe on the Plateau has a defined territory.
“We want to appeal to politicians to respect these territories,” Mr. Buba stated.
The chief further said the country had a Land Use Act with the customary rights of land ownership embedded in it.
Speaking further: “All over Nigeria, land belongs to communities, families, and individuals. We want to appeal that government must not take actions that will bring security challenges to Plateau.
“Yesterday night, I had to appeal to the Berom nation and its vibrant youths to please calm down.
“I told them that as sensitive as the issue is perceived, it has not gone beyond the Berom traditional institution, the elders and the Berom organisations.
“We will sit with government and educate government about what it is; we hope we will have the listening ear of the governor to make amends where they have made errors.
“There is no human being that is perfect, we all make mistakes.
“We appeal to the Berom nation to please calm down. We will follow due process, and we are absolutely sure that God will not forsake us,” Jacob added.
Jacob pointed out that people were craving for peace because there would be no development without it.
He said he had the cause to write to the state government reminding it of reports of three judicial commissions of inquiry between 1994 and 2009.
“All the judicial commissions of inquiry agreed with the position that Jos belongs to the Afizere, Anaguta and the Berom.
“I wrote a letter last year reminding the governor of this and requesting him to allow traditional rulers of these tribes to sit with the state boundary commission to determine everybody’s boundary.
“I am still appealing to government to look into this.
“We don’t want a situation where government policy will bring chaos between neighbors, brothers and sisters that have lived together in peace over the ages,” Jacob said.
Jafaru Wuyep, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, who represented the Governor of Plateau State, in his remarks, promised to convey the message.
The Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy acknowledged that the cultural festival was a unifying force that also promotes peaceful coexistence, adding that it was an avenue to project the Berom cultural identity, attract tourists and promote socio-economic activities.
The cultural festival entails many cultural activities by different groups and tribes, as well as the exhibition of Berom technology.
Awards were given to two Berom personalities that had distinguished themselves and contributed to the development of the people.
The awardees included Barnabas Dusu, now late, who received a posthumous award for being instrumental to the translation of the Holy Bible into Berom language.
The other recipient of the award was Marie Nyam, who is famed as a major contributor to the educational development of many sons and daughters of Berom land.