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Arrest violence in Taraba now

The circle of violence in Taraba State which began in the past few weeks took a turn for the worse last week following the killing…

The circle of violence in Taraba State which began in the past few weeks took a turn for the worse last week following the killing of six military men and one police personnel in Tarti area of Takum Local Government Area. An army officer was also declared missing.

The police spokesperson in the state, DSP Usman Abdullahi, told Daily Trust in Jalingo on Wednesday that the security personnel were conducting an operation during a bloody clash between the Kuteb ethnic group and Fulani herdsmen.

DSP Abdullahi alleged that Kutep and Fulani militia were responsible for the killing of the military personnel and the mobile policeman.  According to him, militia from both sides had engaged each other in bloody clashes over the weeks and that the situation worsened on Tuesday, leading to the deployment of more soldiers and police operatives.

This is coming one month after three policemen were killed in Takum during a clash between Kuteb and Jukun over the Kuteb annual cultural festival. Taraba has over the years been experiencing one form of violence or the other. It has been experiencing series of inter-ethnic clashes, the most prominent being between the Tiv and the Jukun ethnic groups which has been intractable over the years.

These were followed by inter-religious clashes which often ended with loss of lives and destruction of property worth millions of naira.  Similarly, the state recorded spates of kidnapping where a number of people were held hostage until ransom was paid. In some cases, the victims were killed in the process of being kidnapped or for failure of their relations to meet the ransom demands. Some were also killed after ransom was paid.

As if that is not enough, the violence in the state took a different dimension with bomb explosions at strategic points. It has recorded a number of bomb explosions targeting innocent people. Since the beginning of this year the state has recorded four explosions at public gatherings and in a military barracks. According to a compilation by this paper, no fewer than 70 persons died in 15 incidents since the beginning of this year as a result of ethnic clashes, kidnapping, banditry and series of explosions in the state.

The 15 incidents occurred in 10 local government areas of the state, which, unfortunately, showed that the attacks were not confined to particular areas. But more worrisome is the recent attack and killing of soldiers and a policeman mentioned earlier. It is more disturbing that the incident happened as the officers were trying to bring peace between two ethnic communities who have been killing each other.

This is a situation that should not be tolerated by the authorities. For too long innocent lives have been lost in the state due to the inability of communities to live peacefully with one another. But where local militia is becoming bold to attack and kill security personnel is just crossing the red line. It, therefore, behoves the relevant authorities, especially the military and the police, to not only put a stop to this dastardly acts, but ensure the arrest and prosecution of those behind them. For too long our security agents have been paying the supreme price in the hands of militia, hence it is time government takes measures to put a stop.

Again, we already have crises in many parts of the country, we must not allow Taraba to join the fray. All efforts must be made to arrest the situation as soon as possible. Furthermore, Taraba, being a bread basket of the nation due to its agricultural potentials, cannot be turned into a war zone by ego-carrying ethnic bigots. Therefore, all stakeholders should come together and find a lasting solution. Efforts should be made to ensure all those engaging in the violence and their sponsors are brought to book. We believe much responsibility to ensure peace in the state falls into the hands of state and local authorities. We, therefore, urge officials of both tiers of government to cooperate with security agencies in the state to arrest the situation. Similarly, community and religious leaders have an important role to play in this task. They must be seen to be on the side of peace; not on the side of their people who take pleasure or profit from disputes and mayhem. They are, therefore, required to cooperate with the relevant authorities to expose troublemakers, as well as engage in resolution of disputes before they escalate. There is so much bloodletting in the country and we must all come together to stop it in the interest of the nation.

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