Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
Amid the global devastation caused by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the Taraba state police command has confirmed the death of at least 15 persons during the recent Shomo and Jole ethnic clashes in Lau Local government area of the state.
Spokesman of the command DSP David Misal, in a text message issued on Tuesday, said that 100 houses were also burnt down during the crisis.
However, a source from the area told our correspondent that 24 persons were killed while several others are still missing.
The source, who spoke in confidence said Marmi fishing pond has been a source of conflict between the two ethnic groups, who are fishermen, for decades now.
Both ethnic groups are allegedly claiming sole ownership of the fishing pond which is a source of livelihood for most of the people in the area and the tussle has led to violent clashes which usually claim lives from both ethnic nationalities, aside the series of court litigations for several decades now.
An elderly man, Mallam Musa Lau, said there was a time when Taraba State Government banned fishing in the disputed pond for a period of 10 years, saying politics influenced the lifting of the ban on fishing in the pond.
Mallam Musa said the state government should be bold enough to initiate a true fact-finding commission to reveal the true owners of the pond and handed it over appropriately.
He said lives will continue to be lost in clashes over the ownership of the pond if the state government fails to take decisive action on the matter.