Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
As the communal clashes between the Jukuns and Tivs in Taraba State continue to heat up, the Southern Taraba Youth Forum have given the Tiv people in the state a seven-day ultimatum to reopen roads in the state or risk closing any chance for peace between their communities.
Spokesman of the forum Mr Dodo Danlami, who addressed a press conference in Jalingo, said that the crisis has persisted because the Tiv people are “uncooperative” and have a “sinister motive”.
“We are of the strong conviction that the present crisis has remained intractable because of the uncooperative attitude of the Tiv, whose sinister motive is to promote their sophisticated, so-called ten point agenda, which they presented as a precondition for any meaningful engagement,” he said.
“We are giving the Tiv seven days to reopen the roads from Wukari to Takum, Wukari to Donga, Takum to Katsina Ala, Donga to Mararaba, Wukari to Kente and Wukari to Tsokundi, which have crippled economic and agricultural activities of the areas. At the end of this ultimatum, we will be left with no option but to conclude that the Tiv are not ready for peace.
“We also demand that the sons and daughters of southern Taraba who have been kidnapped, whose ransoms have been paid, yet are still in captivity of Tiv militia, should be unconditionally released immediately,” Danlami said.
He further noted that “prior to the ongoing altercation, silent killings, kidnappings, guerilla warfare, banditry and armed robbery perpetrated by the Tiv have become a daily occurrence for our people on the roads in the axis, and has systematically crippled economic, social and agricultural activities of our people.”
But in a swift reaction, the President General of Tiv cultural association in Taraba State, Mr Goodman Dahida, noted that the accusations made by the group were not only baseless but a clear indication that the Jukun youths were determined to make sure that the crisis continues to persist despite peace efforts.
“It is quite ridiculous that these young men have organised themselves to make sure that peace continues to elude us in that part of the state. Otherwise, why would they be making such frivolous accusations against the Tiv which they can not substantiate?
“They accuse the Tiv people of perpetrating kidnapping in the area. The notorious kidnap kingpin Hamisu Bala that was recently arrested is from that axis. Is he a Tiv man? So far, among all the persons that have been arrested in connection with the incident, is there any Tiv person among them?
“It is also on record, and so many people have experienced it, that it is the Jukun youths who often block the roads and bring out Tiv people on transit and slaughter them. A lot of commuters from all over the country can attest to that.
“Is it a coincidence that this funny press conference is coming on a day that the Tiv people in Donga are under attack and their homes are been destroyed and their property looted? This is to tell you that these are all well orchestrated plans to ensure that peace efforts fail as they continue with their bloodthirsty and domineering agenda,” Dahida stated.
Daily Sun reports that the crisis between the two dominant tribes of Tivs and Jukuns in southern Taraba has lingered since April this year, claiming over two hundred lives with property worth hundreds of millions, and has left thousands homeless and displaced.