May be because the killings between the Jukuns who are a majority ethnic group in Taraba State and the Tivs who are equally a majority in Benue State have not been blamed on certain groups, it has not attracted the kind of condemnation it should naturally get. Also maybe because they are mostly people of the same faith, we cannot tell, however what is obvious is that the crisis in Taraba and especially within the Wukari general area has become an embarrassment to the country. What we cannot shy away from therefore is that, it appears to have become the norm that any crime not linked to herdsmen won’t get the necessary attention, condemnation and action. We are consequently dealing with the danger of premeditated interest and unconvincing stereotyping of a tribe in a country where there is multitude of tribes and different tongues.
Just last week in Wukari, the government of Benue State transported back home hundreds of students from the Federal University there who are of Benue origin. People are being decimated in Wukari, Taraba State in a sustained deadly conflict between Tivs and Jukuns. When will the deadly internecine war between the Junkuns and Tivs come to an end?
Today it is difficult to recall who and what number has been killed between the two neighbours in recent past. The scary number of deaths has been recorded and the tally is on a frightening increase. The Federal University in Wukari, an institution that has revitalised the local economy of Wukari and its environs, has been shut down indefinitely as a result of the renewed clash with state governments evacuating their citizens schooling there. If this isn’t scary, then nothing else will be.
There are many questions to ask in the circumstance. What is really going on? Why are they killing themselves with such hateful determination? How come people do not talk about this? Where are the ethnic and religious merchants? To start with, what would make two tribes with thin ancestral, cultural and religious differences engage in the vicious trade of killing each other? Why is the world silent to the sustained deaths going in Taraba? Why the dead silence by the rights groups and religious bodies, even opposition parties? Why isn’t there any accusing finger pointing at the Federal Government? Why are the governors of the two states silent on the killings of TIVs and Jukuns?
We urge that this time the Federal Government and the Nigerian Police move in and resolve the conflict. Those two states and the people who are constantly slaughtered are Nigerians. The hypocrisy of their leadership notwithstanding, the Federal Government must step in since the two states have shown incapacity in dealing with the crisis. We cannot continue to treat threats to our young, students in university owned by the Nigerian people with levity. Whatever has caused the closure of the school is of big consequence and effect.
As enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the first responsibility of a state is the welfare and security of the people.
Any state that fails to secure its citizenry is headed for doom and therefore does not quality to be called a state or country. Wukari is in violent crisis at the moment and it’s incumbent on Governors Darius Ishyaku and Samuel Ortom to ensure that peace is restored to the troubled spot. Also, the perpetrators and instigators of the latest crisis must be arrested and prosecuted for murder and wanton destruction of properties.
It should be clear now that we do not gain anything when we unwittingly for political or religious reasons politicize issues of insecurity around the country. it always has a way of paying us back.
We recall at a time the governors of the two states were everywhere showing their bitterness against a particular ethnic group or trade association. Every appeal to them fell on deaf ears. They preached isolationism but today they cannot even talk. What is more, the crisis, according to our investigations began many years ago over land related issues. Jukuns were said to have been offered land for farming to their Tiv neighbours. Later Tivs refused to recognise the land owners more so with the modern state creation where although there are sprinklings of Tivs in Taraba, Jukuns want Tivs to “go”! As a result, the killings always come up after one trigger or another. The issues can be resolved if our people are a little bit less selfish. But the criminality in the whole process must not be swept under the carpet.
State governments must attune themselves to resolving communal tension rather than allowing it lead to unnecessary bloodletting.