President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed displeasure over the escalating Tiv/Jukun crisis, calling on the parties in both Benue and Taraba states to end the killings immediately.
The President asked governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Darius Ishaku of Taraba State as well as religious and traditional rulers to convene meetings to find solutions to the conflict.”
One of the latest victims of the crisis was a Catholic Priest, Rev Fr David Tanko, who was killed at Kpankufu Village along Wukari Road in Taraba.
The President noted that the killing of the clergyman “highlights the urgency of addressing this embarrassing and persistent conflict.’’
In a State House statement on Friday, Buhari asked the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka of Wukari to intervene in the crisis.
President described the wanton killings and destruction of property by the Tiv and the Jukuns as “unacceptable”, warning that the Federal Government could no longer watch the two ethnic groups to continue with the mindless killings.
The statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, read in part, “I have watched with trepidation and disbelief how hate and bigotry have inhabited the human soul, resulting in brothers killing brothers.
“On behalf of the Federal Government and the entire people of the country, I offer my condolences to the Catholic community, the government and people of Taraba over the losses arising from recent incidents involving the warring communities.
“The persistent deaths and destruction and the seeming desire by the warring sides to push each other to extinction is embarrassing, and this is against the essence of our ethnic and religious diversity in the country.
“Progress is impossible where violence and destruction are allowed to dominate our daily lives.”
The President observed that the Tiv/Jukun crisis was one of “Nigeria’s most persistent and intractable security problems”, noting that the Federal Government had a responsibility not to leave the victims to their fate “or treat cases of communal violence with levity and indifference.”
He added, “The deployment of security men can only provide a temporary solution.
‘‘The long-term and lasting solution to this deep-seated antagonistic relationship between the warring factions depend on the willingness of those involved to listen to reason and give peace a chance.
“It is time for leaders of the ethnic groups to come together and draw up a road map for lasting peace. The impact of this persistent violence on the social and economic life of the people is incalculable.”
The Presidency said the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, had been mandated to raise an intervention committee comprising religious leaders, community heads and security operatives to “examine all issues underlying the conflicts in the hope of finding a permanent solution.”