From Austine Tule, Makurdi
The Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty Orchivirigh Professor James Ayatse on Monday led a high powered delegation of his traditional council members and government officials to a peace meeting at Wukari, in Taraba state.
The Tiv Paramount ruler who also had on his entourage the acting governor of the state Engr. Benson Abounu, immidate past governor of the state Dr. Gabriel Suswam among others meet with the Paramount ruler of the jukun Kindom , the Aku Uka of Wukari and Taraba state government officials at Federal University Wukari.
The meeting comes on the heels of consistent attacks on Tiv communities by people suspected to be Jukun Militia.
Atleast, not fewer than 20 persons were at the weekend reportedly killed in Vaase and Lumbuv by the Militia in coniveance with people suspected to be Fulanis herdsmen in an attarcked that lasted for several hours according to locals.
The meetings is expected to seek for ways through which two weeks long crises can be put to a permanent end.
Only few days ago, an indegin who gave his name as Jeremiah Iorngaem said five persons were killed on Friday night while 15 more persons were allegedly murdered Saturday night.
But the Special Adviser to the Benue state governor on Security Lt. Col Paul Hemba (rtd), while briefing newsmen in his office said only about ten persons were killed in the attacks.
Hemba said police dispatched to the area were still combing the place and may recover more dead bodies.
He noted that 3, 000 persons have so far been displaced and were camping at Jootar another border town in Ukum local government.
The security adviser said since the begining of the crisis last week in Kente Taraba state, he had visited the place three times to hold a meeting with the Traditional ruler in Taraba the Aku-Uka of Wukari, the Tor Sankera Abu Shuluwa, and chairmen of the affected local government to find a lasting solution to the problem.
He expressed regrets that the crisis after efforts by both government and traditional rulers to calm the situation continued, saying both Tiv and Jukuns in the affected areas have lived, together as one, and even inter-married with one another.
“Since the crisis started in Kente, I have traveled there three times to hold a meeting with traditional rulers in Benue and Taraba together with the chairmen in the affected local government areas but after the meeting we noticed there was still killings in the villages.
“Both Jukuns and Tiv people are trading blames against each other. The Tiv people particularly accused Jukuns of coniving with Fulanis to attack them.
“I also got information that the herdsmen were planning to attack Vaatse and because of the porous security situation in the area, I alerted the Police commissioner in the state who sent DCP incharge of Operation to the area to check the situation. However, this morning I got information that there was attack on the place.
“Both Jukun and Tiv in the places affected live together and you cannot differentiate one from the other. They understand both languages and speak them fluently, they inter-married and share common markets. The fight is uncalled for and we are trying our best as government to end the crisis, ” he added.
Chairman of Ukum local government Area Hon. Ibellogo Tor-Ityokyaa told newmen that the situation was getting out of hand and called on security againcies to intensify efforts.
The chairman, said he had rescued a jukum lady trapped within a Tiv community and personally took her and handed her over to the Aku Uka of Wukari in Taraba state as part of the cease-fire agreement that was reached recently between the warring parties , but expressed shock that the jukun were still attacking Tiv villages.
He named the communities attacked to include Vaase and Lumbuv, where he informed a combination of Jukun Militia and fulani herdsmen were launching the attacks.