CLEEN Foundation has shown that investing in community-focused initiatives that will improve the ability of residents to lead in the prevention of crimes and conflict resolutions in their area is another sure way of addressing insecurity.
Buruku community in Bukuru Local Government Area of Benue state has become a good reference model. The community affected by violence as a result of Fulani-Herdsmen crisis for over three years, has been able to utilize traditional justice system as an effective means of conflict resolution and entrenching peaceful co-existence among residents.
Prior to CLEEN initiative, “community resilience project” there was a predominance of animosity, mistrust and suspicion that existed among community residents, with little or no social interaction particularly amongst Christians-Muslims, and non- existence of community structure that brings them together to discuss and resolve issues affecting the community.
According to Mr. Yunusa Abubakar, a Zaki-traditional leader of the community, “in the last three years, it was impossible to have the traditional leaders, religious leaders, women leaders and youth leaders come together to forge a path way for the community, but, as a result of CLEEN intervention, the community residents now live in peace and have built a structure for peace and conflict resolution… and also fostered peace, unity and collaboration in the community. The project reconciled different ethnic groups and promoted mutual cooperation thereby bridging the gap created by ethnic and religious sentiments in the past. The peace in the community had led to extension of electricity to other villages as a sign of love and mutual cooperation”,
For Mr. Herma Nwosu, a community youth leader, “The youth of Buruku community have embraced peace and eschewed violence which was evident during the 2019 general elections as the youth refused to allow themselves to be hired for political thugs, , giving room for peaceful elections in the community.” He added that as a result of the project, the community has put in place, early warning signs and alternative dispute resolution as means of addressing all forms of conflicts.”
Mr. Olisemeka Hyacinth, a Religious Leader recounted how “inter-Religious Exchange”, an initiative of the project, enlightened him on the different doctrines of religions and brought about peaceful co-existence among them. “Prior to my participation in the project, I was always afraid of associating with the Muslims, my participation in various Inter-Religious Exchange deepened my understanding about Islam and now I can associate freely with Muslims” he said.
For Mrs. Hembergo Nyickwa a community women leader, the Women in Peace Building initiative of the project helped in the restoration of peace in the community. “there is now an improvement in women inclusion in decision making in the community and women are now given opportunity to speak and express their views on issues affecting the community” she added.
In the last two years, Bukuru community has enjoyed peace with no record of violence as residents continue to utilize peace building structures established through the project initiative to resolve issues arising among them.