Boiling Plateau: Residents clash over praying ground

by Reuben Daba

When things used to be sweet between the Hausa Muslims and Berom Christians in Barkin Ladi Local Council of Plateau State, a certain Berom man gave out his land to be used by the Muslims during their prayers and festivities.
Those days of peace are only found in memories now, as Barkin Ladi, and
indeed most of Plateau State has turned into a bed of crisis and tension.

Yesterday there was a clash between the two groups, over that land, which
is now a subject of dispute. Vehicular movement in and out of the town was
halted. And one person was allegedly killed, although the police is yet to
confirm this casualty.

The land in question is located on Kwot Street of Barkin Ladi town. During
the last Eid-el-Fitri, when the Muslims attempted to clear and use the
land, which they had since fenced, they were resisted by some Berom youths,
who informed the Muslims that the land owner didn’t want them using his
land anymore for their prayers.

However, the Hausas argued that they had bought the land, and said that
they had documents to prove it. The landowner however denied their claim,
saying that he only gave them the land to use without any string attached
when the relationship had not gone sour, and hence reserved the right to
reclaim his land when he wanted.

During the last Muslim festival, the local council prevented the Hausas
from using the land, to avoid a clash. The council informed them that since
they’d taken the case to court, they should hold off on using the land
until after the matter has been resolved.

However, on October 9, the Hausa went and erected the demolished fence.
Following the recent attacks in Riyom in the night of October 9 where no
fewer than 15 persons died and that of Barkin Ladi where three persons were
killed, the Berom youths demolished the erected fence in the morning of
October 10.

This led to increased tension between the two groups with both menacingly
marching towards one another.

According to an eye witness, security operatives moved in to douse the
tension: “There was no movement of vehicles in and out of Barkin Ladi. But
before noon, normalcy had started to return. They were throwing stones at
one another before the arrival of the security operatives which resulted in
one death.”

“It would have been a full-scale war if the Special Task Force (STF) and
the police had not been drafted there.”

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