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50 killed in renewed Benue hostilities

Posted by By Terna Doki, Special, Correspondent, Makurdi on 2005/06/17 | Views: 336 |

50 killed in renewed Benue hostilities


Renewed hostilities between the people of Ikurav Tiev and Kusuv in Katsina Ala and Buruku local government areas of Benue State have claimed more than 50 lives.

Renewed hostilities between the people of Ikurav Tiev and Kusuv in Katsina Ala and Buruku local government areas of Benue State have claimed more than 50 lives.

The state House of Assembly has, therefore, summoned the chairmen of the two local government councils, Tseningo Abaneha and Tarfule Tijab respectively to explain their absence in their domains when the crisis resurfaced.

The Assembly has also set up a five-man ad hoc committee to investigate the crisis and report its findings to the House within one month.

The decision was taken after a thorough interrogation and briefing of the assemble by Hon. Tsenongo Abancha and Hon. Tartule Tijah, council chairmen of Katsina Ala and Buruku local councils.

The assembly had on Tuesday, summoned the two council chairmen to explain their absence in their respective domains for abroad while their territories were on fire.

When they appeared on the floor of the assembly on Wednesday, they were asked to explain the causes, background development and likely solution to the perennial crisis between the two communities.

Both council chairmen conceded in their separate submissions on the floor of the House that the crisis predates their administration and it is over 50 years old.

The council bosses also averred that the consistent outbreak of violence between the two communities has always erupted, despite remedial solutions that have been applied in the past.


Earlier before the assembly intervention, Tordue Yev (Katsina Ala West Constituency) had through an observation on the floor of the House intimated that the fresh crisis has resumed between the two communities, as the Assembly reconvened at about 3.00 pm, Wednesday.


He lamented that uncountable lives have been lost and that properties worth millions of naira have also been destroyed saying that the eight-day old blood-letting, started as soon as the demarcation of the boundary between the warring communities was suspended June 7, this year.


He also noted that the fierce clashes have not only resumed but escalated to an alarming dimension and regretted that in spite of the death toll, nothing has been done and prayed the House to intervene for an immediate cessation of the hostilities.


Also contributing on the matter, Clement Agbecha (Buruku constituency), informed the House that the Council chairmen of Katsina-Ala and Buruku local governments abandoned their duties for a foreign trip, as the House sought to know the steps taken by the council bosses to end the crisis.


Furthermore, Shimawna Azaigba (Koushisha Constituency) informed the House that the situation in Katsina Ala in the last two days climaxed into a near complete break down of law and order in the council headquarters. He lamented that the council chairmen who travelled abroad did not hand-over the reigns of power to their deputies, which made official response to stem the crisis impossible while displaced persons poured into Katsina Ala, in droves.


Another contributor on the observation Austin Awodi (Adoka/ Ugbouju Constituency) condemned the absence of the council chairmen in critical times when their territories were on fire. He submitted that the primary responsibility of democratic leadership is to provide for protection of the electorate and property and any leader who shuns this responsibility is unfit to govern.


Awodi, out rightly prayed the House to suspend the two council chairmen for gross dereliction of duty, negligence and official irresponsibility, pending their return from the foreign trip to defend themselves before the House, who will consider lifting the suspension or not.


Ruling on the observation, the Speaker, David Mzenda Iho said it is not good enough to convict someone in absentia, contending that it is always better to hear from both sides and avail someone the opportunity of defence. He said, the legislators should not allow anger to push them to take hasty decision and accordingly summoned the two council chairmen to appear before the House the following day to explain their absence and the security situation in the two areas.


The Ikurav Tiev and Kusuv communities drew their sword against each other just before the commencement of rains this year, over a disputed fertile peace of land on their border. The clashes claimed over 20 lives and destroyed properties valued millions of naira.


This forced the state security council to meet and review the security situation in the areas last month after which a ten-point resolution was announced.


Highlights of the resolutions were the speedy demarcation of the boundary between the two local governments, suspension of a District Head, for his complexity in the escalation of the crisis and a directive to the Executive Council chairmen to remain in their domains and work assiduously for the return of peace, but they jetted abroad thereafter.

Benue State House of Assembly therefore, set up a five-man ad hoc committee to investigate the crisis and report its findings to the House within one month.

The decision was taken after a thorough interrogation and briefing of the assemble by Hon. Tsenongo Abancha and Hon. Tartule Tijah, council chairmen of Katsina Ala and Buruku local councils.

The assembly had on Tuesday, summoned the two council chairmen to explain their absence in their respective domains for abroad while their territories were on fire.

When they appeared on the floor of the assembly on Wednesday, they were asked to explain the causes, background development and likely solution to the perennial crisis between the two communities.

Both council chairmen conceded in their separate submissions on the floor of the House that the crisis predates their administration and it is over 50 years old.

The council bosses also averred that the consistent outbreak of violence between the two communities has also erupted frequently, despite remedial solutions that have been applied in the past.

Tijah informed the assembly that the historical cause of the crisis a local government who has maternal kinsmen in Kusuv of Buruku.

According to the Buruku council boss, the Atsered had problem with his paternal kinsmen, what pushed him to seek for refuge in Kusuv maternal home. He was given the disputed piece of land to settle and farm, but later claimed the land belongs to his paternal kinsmen Ikurav Tiev II.

Tijah admitted that the sudden conversion of the land to that of Ikurav Tiev II was what the people could not condone. This has often led to clashes as any group within the two clans occasionally attempted to forcefully take possession of the land by uprooting crops planted by the rival.

Katsina Ala council boss also admitted that even Professor Martin Dent (The Asor Tar U Tiv meaning Peace maker) a former British District Officer of Tiv Native Authority also intervened in the dispute, but negotiation for peace failed.

Abancha averred that sometimes the boundary demarcation process itself sparks off fresh contentions and disagreements between the rival parties, leading to its stoppage.

Although, fighting is still in progress and houses burnt, but Abancha told the assembly that no case of death has been brought to his notice.

However, the two council bosses gave conflicting account of when the letter purportedly written by a district head of Mbayaka, Tyoor Sember Fan on June 5, 2005 of Kusuv, demanding the discontinuation of the boundary demarcation as directed by recent resolution of the state security council.

WhileTijah admitted in his explanations that he got the letter which was a threat to security before traveling but handed over the problem to TOR Buruku, Chief D. Afatyo. But his Katsina Ala counterpart Hon. Abancha informed the House that he traveled to Netherlands before the threat to peace resurfaced.

However, the two council bosses submitted that the only solution to the disputed land is for the state assembly or the state government to declare the area a buffer zone as even the present demarcation of boundary may not put an end to the crisis.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.