Governor Darius Ishaku has declared that “Tiv are indigenes in Taraba State”.
He spoke at the weekend during his meeting with Tiv opinion leaders over the ongoing crisis with Jukun in southern Taraba.
The meeting, which sought to find a lasting solution to the communal feud, was held at Government House, Jalingo.
The Nation gathered that the major cause of the Jukun/Tiv conflict is the claim by Jukun that the Tiv are “settlers,” not indigenes in Taraba, and therefore, have no ownership right to the land they occupy.
The Tiv, on the other hand, use the longevity of their stay in Taraba to repel their settler status to claim land ownership, traditional and political rights.
These seeming claims, passed on to Jukun/Tiv offspring, are generating bloody scenes.
The Tiv/Jukun crisis is one of the protracted inter-ethnic feuds in Nigeria, reverberating in intervals of 10 and 20 years.
The conflict first erupted in 1959. It reoccurred in 1980, 1990, 2001 and 2019.
The ongoing resurgence, which began on April 1, has become a source of worry to the Federal Government.
Many had thought Tiv and Jukun will enjoy the best of their interaction these days, owing to the fact that Ishaku is Jukun, who is married to a Tiv. But instead, the two closely tied ethnic groups are having the worst of hostilities against each other.
Many have criticised Ishaku and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, for not doing enough to stop the crisis.
“They (Ishaku and Ortom) have not visited the scenes of killings since the crisis began over five months ago.
“Both Jukun and Tiv want the two governors, hand in hand, to be visiting the affected homes and affected persons, seeking a truce. They have not done that,” one analyst posted on his Facebook wall.
Mike Msuaam, who led the protest by the Tiv Youth Council Worldwide (TYCW) in Abuja, accused Ishaku and former Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma of orchestrating the crisis, for their prolonged silence over the attacks and killings in the state.
It was gathered that the Jukun/Tiv crisis, with cases of kidnapping and other insecurity issues in Taraba State, is gradually obscuring Ishaku’s landmark achievements.
Hundreds of lives have been lost and properties, including economic trees and foodstuff, estimated at billions of naira destroyed.
The Federal University, Wukari has been shut down as killings spilled to the campus.
Several homes have been razed, plundered and reduced to rubble. Both Jukun’s and Tiv’s militia groups have been blamed for the hostilities.
The consequences are so much that Jukun no longer travels to the east or south through Katsina-Ala-Makurdi Road. They follow the Ibi-Nasarawa route. Similarly, Tiv going to Jalingo, from Makurdi, pass through Jos.
Those who were unlucky were fetched from vehicles on the highway and massacred.
It was gathered that Ishaku, who is at a crossroad between his in-laws and kinsmen, wants the crisis to stop.
Ishaku had on Saturday, through the House of Assembly member from Wukari II Constituency, Josiah Aji, invited the Tiv community for the peace talks.
The lawmaker, it was learnt, met with former Commissioner for Environment, Rebecca Manasseh, who came up with a list as directed by the governor.
The governor’s wife, Anna Ishaku, also selected some “Tiv sons from the villages”, who joined in the meeting with the governor.
Tiv stakeholders at the meeting included: Dennis Orkuma Nev, David Mtuem, Manasseh, Jime Yongo, Stephen Ikyaa, Emmanuel Orabunde and Goodman Dahida. Also in attendance were Aji and Douglas Ndatse, representing Donga in the Assembly.
Tiv leaders presented their grievances to the governor at the meeting.
“Our Jukun brothers do not want the Tiv people to be identified as bonafide indigenes of Taraba, in spite of the long history of our existence, numerical strength, socio-political and economic contribution to the state’s development.
“The refusal to issue to Tiv persons the Certificates of State of Origin since the beginning of the conflict (in 1959) and the renaming of Tiv villages, as well as the non-recognition of our traditional institutions are some of the problems.
“The way forward: there should be an attitudinal change on the ‘settler’ status by our Jukun brothers. Jukun should have confidence in us, recognise and accept us as their own brothers,” they said.
The governor thanked his guests for “being frank” in their presentations. He stated that the Tiv were indigenes in Taraba.
“Tiv have been in Taraba for long. They are indigenes and that is why I appointed them as commissioners, special advisers and senior aides in my cabinet,” he said.
It was also gathered that the governor might have consulted his godfather and former Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma, before making the pronouncement, which is going to be legally gazetted that Tiv are indeed indigenes in Taraba.
The Tiv urged the governor to fast-track the process that would enable displaced persons to return to their ancestral homes “unconditionally”.