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As Taraba IDPs Languish In Bali, Amidst COVID-19, Jukun/Tiv Crisis

Published by Leadership on Wed, 03 Jun 2020

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Taraba State are currently languishing in pain and hardship, as their camps lack basic human necessities. This is in the back drop of the atrocious Jukun/Tiv killings in the state which has extended to the federal highways within the southern zone, JOHN MKOM reports.Over 20,377 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located in different camps across the southern and central zones of Taraba State, were found languishing in hardship following the Tiv/Jukun crisis that lasted persistently for close to two years.The palace of the Ter Tiv Bali, in Bali Local Government Area in central Taraba State when visited by LEADERSHIP Sunday was filled with smoke from various cooking points, it was not any traditional ceremony going on, but struggle by the IDPs to continue with life after they were chased away from their homes by the crisis.Children and women were seen crying uncontrollably of hunger and health issues, a scene full of anguish. It was obvious that the even the little they have eaten was not enough to quench their hunger, what's worse, the sick had no one to care for them, in terms of treatment.The Caretaker Chairman Donga Local Government Council, Hon Nashuka Ipeyen told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the displaced persons from his local government were numbering in hundreds.He could not give the exact number of them at the various camps but said they were located in Kurmi, Suntai, Donga, Maraba and Nyivu. Ipeyen said the Taraba State government has concluded arrangements to convey relief materials to the IDPs.The local government boss said there has been calm in the area for three days now, as both parties have not advanced any attacks.According to Mrs Scholastica Anyamhula, one of the displaced and a mother of four, the camp at the palace, houses up to 705 IDPs, out of which 369 of them were children and 346 adults. These IDPs he said, had no food to eat and no access to hygiene.Anyamhula said feeding 369 children daily was not a child's play, equally lamenting at the challenge staring them in the face, of coping with the trauma of losing loved ones in the crisis.'All we want is for the government to talk to the stakeholders and see the possibility of ceasefire to enable us return to our homes.'I am a business woman trading in second hand clothing and grains. I have lost everything in the crisis, here we are without the basic needs of life.'Living here in the camp has not been easy. Just yesterday a woman gave birth here, she needs medical attention but we can't afford the bills. 'We buried three children from an unknown ailment two days ago. We don't know whether they died of coronavirus or any other disease,' she stated in anguish.At NKST camp, LEADERSHIP Sunday visited the children, who were mostly between the ages of three (3) and (10) and without cloths. Several of the children looked malnourished at the time of the visit.Zaki Abraham Anyam, who led his people from Zaga village when gunmen attacked their community, told our reporter that the attack was baseless. He attributed the current crisis in Bali to a spill over of the Jukun/Tiv crisis which started in Kente, in Wukari LGA on April 2019.Anyam explained, 'The issue is not about land dispute but the question of indigeneship.'The Jukun people feel that all the Tiv who are originally from Taraba, should leave the state for them and go back to Benue.'Incidentally, many of the Tiv people in Taraba have no lineage in Benue and that has been the problem. 'This crisis that has forced us into IDPs camp started in Gidan Adamu, where a Tiv and an Ichen man were having a disagreement over land.'The Tiv man, Mr Mernyi Chivir was attacked on the farm and in the process one of the attackers was killed. The Ichen people then started attacking Tiv villagers in the neighbouring communities.'The Tiv people, in reprisal, attacked and burnt some Ichen villages. Since then, attacks and reprisals have continued,' he said.The community leader, now a displaced person, appealed to the government at all levels to come to the aid of the displaced people. Speaking to our reporter in the camp, Pastor Tor-Adi, the pastor in-charge, NKST Nachigh Bali, condemned the attacks and displacement of people, calling on the Federal Government to provide a lasting solution to the crisis. 'This crisis started over a year ago and in one of the peace meetings in Abuja, the Governor said the problem was an internal affair of Taraba which was not above his capacity to handle.'But more than six months after the peace meeting, there is nothing concrete on ground to suggest that the state government was ready or capable of solving the problem. 'Since human lives are being lost on a daily basis, the Federal Government should step in and preside over the peace process,' stated.Pastor Tor-Adi complained that the people under his care were above his capacity to feed, calling on government to assist the people with relief materials and medical services. The Ter-Tiv Bali, Zaki David Gbaa Tela who took our correspondent round the three camps in Bali, wondered why a minor disagreement over land will spark off another round of killings. Zaki Gbaa however, blamed the renewed attacks on the inaction of the state government in addressing the crisis.'The Governor had during the peace meeting in Abuja, presided over by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the crisis is an internal affairs of the state and that he has the capacity to handle.'But months after, the state government is yet to issue a statement on the joint peace committee report submitted to the government since December 2019.'Security of lives and property is the primary responsibility of any government and the state government should take this responsibility very seriously.'Lives are being lost, people are suffering and our economy is crumbling. The Federal Government should come and help end this crisis.'Look at the crowd here, we can't maintain social distancing as government is campaigning. Yes, people have run away from bullets but they might be killed by coronavirus pandemic if care is not taken,' Chief Gbaa lamented. Speaking with our reporter in an exclusive interview, the President, Ichen Cultural Development Association (ICADA), Mr Samuel Bibinu said that over 2,500 Ichens people have been displaced and are taking refuge in peoples homes.Most of the IDPs it was gathered, came from Donga, Bali, Kurmi and Takum.Bibinu expressed worry over the plight of the people, who he said were suffering as a result of the displacement and called for assistance from government and well-meaning Nigerians, to help provide food, shelter, drugs and water to the IDPs.'I want to call on government to provide the people with security, relief materials, shelter, and most importantly intervene in the crisis and restore peace so that people can return to their homes.The renewed Tiv/Jukun crisis started on April 1, 2019. Since then it has spread across the Southern part of Taraba State, with Bali and part of Donga LGAs being the latest battle ground. No fewer than 20,000 people are rendered homeless, while the humanitarian situation in IDPs camps deteriorates. LEADERSHIP Sunday reliably gathered at present that, IDPs were in various camps in Bali, Maihula, Suntai, Takum, Baissa and Peva are groaning over their plight. They were discovered to be in dire need of food, shelter, medics and water.Majority of the people who spoke with our reporter attributed the lingering crisis to the Taraba State Government's lack of political will in handling the crisis. But the Special Adviser to Governor Darius Ishaku on Media and Publicity, Mr Bala Dan-Abu disagreed, insisting that government inaction was not the cause of the continued attacks. 'The government is making efforts to end the crisis, but the two groups must make efforts to embrace peace. 'Just recently, the state government organised a peace meeting in Lafia, all in a bid to bring peace between the two groups and the people themselves must embrace peace.'The Governor has consistently told the people to give him peace and he will give them development. The Governor has done a lot and is doing what is expected of him to do.'All that the people need to do is to support the governor in his quest to bring development to the state, because no investor will want to invest in an atmosphere of chaos,' he said. If the resolutions reached at the end of another round of peace meeting held at the Exco chambers of the Taraba State Government House are anything to go by, then the people can have hope of returning to their homes any time soon.At the meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, Engr Haruna Manu, with representatives of Jukun and Tiv, the meeting resolved that all forms of hostilities should stop and that the government should deploy security to the affected areas, among others.This is even as the government pledged to provide relief materials and support IDPs returnees with farm inputs to return home without any form of restriction. But whether these resolutions will be implemented is what time shall tell.Tiv/Jukun Killings Extend To HighwaysThe killings in the Tiv/Jukun crisis has extended to the federal highways within the central and southern Taraba. The caretaker chairman Wukari local government council Hon Daniel Adigrace, recently accused the Tiv militia of killing eight (8) persons on Wukari/Rafinkada road.Adigrace said the Tiv militia ambushed the passengers along the Wukari-Takum federal Highway, at Rafinkada village where they killed eight persons.In a swift reaction, the president general Tiv Cultural and Social Association TCSA Goodman Dahida, accused Adigrace of creating falsehoods on the Tiv nation by fabricating lies that the Tiv people blocked and killed eight persons in Wukari. Dahida said Adigrace could not give details of his claims. He urged Adigrace to come out clear and tell the world when, how and those involved in the killings in specific terms, rather than creating falsehood on the entire nation.Goodman further said it was on record that in less than a week when the state government called for a ceasefire among Tiv and Jukun, three Tiv people were removed in a passenger vehicle and slaughtered between Wukari and Doruwa on Katsina ala Jalingo Highway. He said the three vehicles belonging to Tiv were burnt and the debris left within the area for people to see.'The military at Maraba in Donga will attest to what I am telling you, seven Tiv persons boarded a vehicle from Gashaka, while they were heading to Mararaba. The youths there blocked the road, removed all of them, fortunately, five of them ran to the nearby military checkpoint, the remaining two were killed in Mararaba just yesterday being Wednesday.'Ever since the ceasefire agreement in Jalingo, no Tiv youth has been said to launch an attack, rather the Jukun is reported to have continued to advance their attacks on Tiv houses in Bali, Donga and Wukari local government areas.
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