By Stephen Ubanna
Those who think that President Muhammadu Buhari will direct Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff to mobilise his infantry soldiers and move in to the troubled Jukun and Tiv Communities in Taraba and Benue , states , to end the communal clash which had claimed many lives and property over the last two decades and now should have a rethink.
Given his military background, the Katsina born Nigerian President appears to have known that soldiers may not really do much to restore the much desired peace in the area without the involvement of governors Darius Ishaku and Samuel Ortom of Taraba and respectively, James Ortee Ayayse , a professor and Tor Tiv, Aku Uka of Wukari, as well as religious and other Community leaders in the two states to find a permanent solution on the crisis as stakeholders on ground.
Appealing to the governors and the other key stakeholders in the two states to meet urgently, he noted that ‘’it is the only through their participation in the peace meetings that will bring an end to the persistent violent clashes between the warring tribes. Recall that the recent crisis that erupted in the state started in Kente, a Border Community between the state and Benue which spread like wild fire in Wukari local government area and some Tiv Communities in Benue state.
Analysts believe that the crisis was an offshoot of years of lingering feud on a claim by the Jukun that the’’ Tiv are settlers’’in Taraba state and which the people could not take. The relegation of the people was so pronounced that the Jukun made the people to know that they have no ownership right the land they occupy occupy and therefore should leave.
The President was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that it is not how to deploy troops to the troubled Communities in Wukari local government area in Taraba or the local government affected in Benue state with the violence that is the problem as’ ‘’it can only provide a temporary solution’’. His worries was informed by the killing of, David Tanko, a Jukun , from Wukari, and Clergy man, in Okpakufu , a Wukari village by alleged Tiv militias. Many believe that the crisis could have escalated if the Jukun had carried out a reprisal attack. The intervention of the state Police Command , was said to have saved the situation.
Mohammed Adamu,the Inspector General of Police, IGP, has vowed to get the killers. He was said to have directed the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, to provide additional forensic and other investigative assts to the Taraba state Police Command to be able to track the Parish Priest
Meanwhile , the Federal University of Wukari , in Taraba state has been shut down by the Universities following a protest by the students over the abduction and killing of three undergraduates and a University Staff. The closure came on the heels of the Benue state government evacuation of 812 Tiv indigenes from the University, to avoid falling into the waiting hands of the Jukun militia seeking revenge over the killing of of the priest..
Indeed, security watchers had expected the President to apply his Constitutional powers as the Commander –In –Chief of the Armed Forces, to deploy soldiers to the two states as he did in Zamfara, Katsina and sokoto states, in the north west geo=political region , to flush out the Bandits terrorizing the three states.
A s a prelude to getting to the root cause of the conflict between the two warring tribes, the president, according to Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, disclosed in a Statement that he has giving a matching Order to Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the government to set up a Committee to look into the root cause of the Jukun-Tiv violence and proffer solution that would be implemented.
Many believe that Jukun/Tiv crisis had defiled successive Administrations in the country. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo had brokered peace between the two tribes in 1991 until the recent eruption of another crisis in the area, after about 17, years of fragile peace. An unhappy Buhari, wants those involved in the Jukun and Tiv crisis to ‘’listen to the voice of reason and give peace a chance’’.
Ishaku, the governor of Taraba, a state that has produced one of the most notorious kidnap kingpins in the country named, Hamisu Bala, popular Wadume, was said to have initiated moves to restore peace between the two warring tribes .
It was learnt that the Taraba state governor and Ortom, his Benue counterpart had met severally on the Jukun and Tiv crisis at the Border Communities under heavy security to see things by themselves and how to go about solving the problem.
The Benue state governor , was said to have gone a step further to send a powerful delegation to Jalingo, the Taraba state Capital to hold meetings with the key stakeholders ,in Wukari local government area, including the Chairman and the Aku Uka, the paramount Ruler of Wukari.
Note that worried by the persistent communal clash between the two tribes scattered in Taraba and Benue states, some aggrieved youths from the Tiv tribe , under the aegis of Tiv Youth Council, Guardians of Democracy and Development , joined by civil society organisations had embarked on a peaceful protest on August 15, 2019, at Abuja, to draw the attention of the presidency to the violence and the plight of the people .
Mike Msuaan and Solomon Adodo, who were instrumental to staging of the protest want the President to use his powers to deal with those alleged to be undermining the peace process in the two states and other states experiencing similar problem.
The duo had given the impression that the masses of Jukun and Tiv Communities are willing to embrace peace and live in harmony for the economic growth and development of their Communities to thrive buregrets that the elites were not helping matters. According to the duo, the ‘’elites in the two tribes’’ ‘’stoke the embers of violence to achieve their unpatriotic ulterior motives’’.
It is not surprising why the leadership of the group has called for the arrest of Ishaku, the Taraba state governor and Theophilous Danjuma, a retired Lt. General and former minister of Defense over their alleged roles in the violent clashes between the two tribes. The group may have dragged the governor and Danjuma, the retired Army General into the violence to crate bad blood between the them and the President.
The Tiv Youths Worldwide had stopped short of saying that the Taraba state governor and the retired Jukun Army General who is regarded in business circles as a billionaire, were sponsoring the violence, ostensibly to discredit the Buhari Administration.
They may have their reasons of thinking along so. Msuaan, the President General of the Association and one of the masterminds of the Abuja protest, said Danjuma, particular, had not done much to ‘’stop the clashes which had claimed many lives’’, an indication that he supports what the Jukun are doing to the Tivs.
He Lamented that the General has suddenly lost his voice now that his Jukun brothers were killing Tiv people in his home state. The Tiv Youth Worldwide President- General had alluded to a call made by the retired Army General to Nigerians to defend themselves as the ruling All progressive Congress, APC, government , led by Buhari, could no longer protect lives and property in the country . He believes the call may have emboldened the Jukuns to resort to killing the Tivs to force them out of their ancestral homes in Wukari local government back to Benue to join their kits and kins.
But Bala Abu,a Media Aidde to the Taraba state governor had dismissed the allegations of the Tiv-Youth World wide group against the governor and Danjuma, describing it as the handwork of mischief makers.
He wondered how who could come out with such grave allegation that the Taraba state governor and Danjuma would be involved in sponsoring violence that would claim lives and property in the state. He revealed that the governor and Ortom, his Benue counterpart , had adopted various measures including meeting with stakeholder from the two warring tribes to end the crisis.
Appealing the leadership of Tiv Worldwide to watch their language, Bala, said no amount of provocation will deter the state government’s plan to solve the Jukun and Tiv crisis once and fall all.
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