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Despite govt’s efforts, Tiv/Jukun crisis claims more lives, property

The level of destruction in the areas affected by the Tiv/Jukun crisis in Taraba State is beyond what Nigerians have been made to believe.  A…

The level of destruction in the areas affected by the Tiv/Jukun crisis in Taraba State is beyond what Nigerians have been made to believe.  A visit to Bali, Donga Wukari and Ibbi local government areas of the state showed that the situation is actually very worrisome.

From Gazabu village, located about 8 kilometers from Bali town, which is the headquarters of Bali Local Government Area, up to Suntai town, it was observed that all the Tiv villages on both sides of the road were completely razed down.

There were over 20 Tiv settlements, but none of them was spared, while their inhabitants fled.

A lot of destruction was also seen after Jatau town, down to Kungana, Maigoge, Zagah, up to Suntai area.

Another group of displaced persons in a displaced persons’ camp in Mutumbiyu town, Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba state

Some of the affected settlements also include Maihu, Sarkin Dutse, Igba, Galadima Juji1 and 2, Kwana and Tudun Ruwa.

Others are Yelwa, Yalwa Kutumbi, Gazabo Barkeji, Kudi etc. They were full of activities before the unfortunate crisis.

Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the worst hit was Annanum village, where more than 113 houses were destroyed and other property worth millions of naira carted away or also destroyed.

Remote parts of Bali and Donga local government areas, as well as parts of Wukari and Ibbi local government, areas were also affected.

Destruction was also seen along Wukari-Ibbi, Wukari-Kente, Wukari-Rafinkada-Donga and Donga-Annanum and Maraban Baissa roads, as well as Tsokundi and Sondi areas.

Schools and churches were also not spared during the crisis.

Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that, in an attempt to find solutions to the conflict, a series of peace meetings initiated by the Taraba State Government were held at different venues in Wukari and Jalingo (Taraba) Makurdi (Benue), Lafia (Nasarawa State), as well as Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Recently, it was reported that a peace accord was signed in Jalingo between the two warring factions and it was agreed that the use of militia men should be banned.

But few weeks after the accord, killings were recorded at different locations in the Tiv/Jukun areas of southern Taraba. Such killings include those of a cleric and his wife in  a farm at Maraban Baissa, two Jukun people and six Fulani, in an ambush along the Wukari-Rafinkada road.

Doowuses Ishor,Terkula Agush and Mtaernyi Ortamu were also killed on  June 29, 2020, at Jalo Takaliya in Bali Local Government Area by suspected militia men.

Similarly, Tse Juku was burnt down by suspected militia. Four persons, including a 9-year-old child, were killed last week.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday also revealed that suspected militia attacked and killed farmers in their farms farm in different parts of Wukari Local Government Area.

Both ethnic groups blame each other for the crisis, which has claimed over 100 lives.

Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, the national president of Ichen Cultural and Development Association, Dr Samuel  Bibinu, accused the Tiv of using militia men to attack his people. Ichen is a sub tribe of Jukun.

But the president of Tiv Cultural Association in Taraba State, Mr Goodman Dahida, alleged that the Jukun were violating the peace accord they signed recently.

He said the attacks by Jukun men on Tiv communities in Bali and Gassol local government areas in 1999 were still fresh in the minds of the victims. He said the killings were planned to eliminate the Tiv in Taraba, adding that the land dispute which triggered the crisis was a cover-up.

Reacting to the lingering killings and destruction of properties, the National Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA) in Taraba State said government was not doing enough to stop the crisis

Addressing newsmen in Jalingo recently, chairman of the association, The Rev Father Ephraim Sani, said there should be more efforts to address the situation.

Reacting to comments by the Catholic priest, Governor Darius Ishaku accused clerics in the state of inciting the crisis, and threatened to deal with anybody found doing so

He disclosed that when hundreds of Tiv were trapped in Kurmi Local Government, he quickly ordered for vehicles and security men to evacuate them to safety.

“When we received a report that some people were planning to attack the Tiv who were in parts Kurmi Local Government, l quickly arranged for logistics and security men to move them out. They are now in a refugee camp at Chancangi,

We also provided a borehole, medicine and food for them. We did the same things for refugees in Mutum Biyu,’’ Ishaku said.

According to the governor, his administration has done the best it could to resolve the crisis, including calling for peace meetings severally.

“It is wrong and reckless for anyone to accuse me or my administration of not doing enough to stop the crisis. What is happening now is an act of criminality, whereby bandits and kidnappers cause harm to people,’’ Ishaku said.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that there are over 20,000 displaced persons camped in Mutum Biyu and Chanchangi. All the displaced persons are farmers.

The Tiv/Jukun crisis in Taraba has been going on for the past 50 years, but the recent one, which started between Ichen and Tiv on May 5, 2020, appears to be the worst, in terms of human and material destruction.

As a result of the crisis, crops like maize, yam, groundnut, melon, beniseed, cassava and others were left to waste because farmers were displaced. If something is not quickly done to stop the crisis and bring peace to the affected areas, there will be food insecurity in the state, which is also capable of affecting the entire country.

Although mobile policemen are stationed in most of the affected settlements, the people are yet to return home.

Those who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday on the matter called on Taraba State and the Federal Government to ensure a safe return of all the victims of the crisis.

Mr Jacob Telu said unless displaced persons were helped to return to their villages, there would be shortage of food in the state because, according to him, “By the time these crops mature, criminals will come and harvest them, while those who spent money, time and energy to cultivate them will have nothing,’’ Telu said.

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