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Benue: 2 towns in fight-to-finish • For 46 yrs

Posted by Sun News on 2006/03/07 | Views: 479 |

Benue: 2 towns in fight-to-finish • For 46 yrs


The hostage crisis in the Niger Delta and the cartoon-occasioned killings in the North may have stolen public attention from the internecine conflict in Benue State, but they have nonetheless diminished the festering carnage between the two warring communities, the Ikyurav people of Buruku and the Kusuv of Katsina Ala Local Government Areas.

Benue: 2 towns in fight-to-finish


The hostage crisis in the Niger Delta and the cartoon-occasioned killings in the North may have stolen public attention from the internecine conflict in Benue State, but they have nonetheless diminished the festering carnage between the two warring communities, the Ikyurav people of Buruku and the Kusuv of Katsina Ala Local Government Areas.

The conflict which first erupted between the two clans in 1960 over a piece of land resurfaced in February 1994, after several peace treaties brokered by the government with the warring factions. It, however, resurrected in February 2005. Since then there has been attacks and counterattacks between the two communities.

The crisis emanated from counter claims over Kungwaazov a stream the Ikyurav-Tiev claim is part of River Katsina Ala, and supposedly theirs. They also claim that the Tombo people belong to the Ikyurav and not Kusuv.

The Kusuv in their arguments equally lay claim to Kungwaazov and insist on their ownership of the land.
And since January 5, 2006 the inhabitants of Katsina Ala, have been gripped by fear as sporadic gunshots rend the air. Slain relations and neighbours, burnt and vandalized property are common sight. Mercenaries from outside the state are believed to have been recruited by one of the factions in the conflict. Everyday, the fear of the Ikyurav-Tiev is heightened by rumours of planned attack by the militia allegedly at the service of the Kusuv people. The Ikyurav-Tiev have also alleged plan by the militia to burn their settlements of Ayuwa and Ikowe in the outskits of Katsina Ala town.
The crisis has since thrown up refugee problem. On the beaches of the River Katsina Ala could be seen hundreds of shacks erected by displaced families .

Although conflict has a long history, its resurgence has assumed a frightening dimension as it has been fought uninterruptedly for 10 months, having broken out in March last year.
According to one of the factions, since the outbreak of hostilities, the law enforcement agencies have apparently turned a blind eye, just as the Benue State government, determined to shield the crisis from public, has pretended as if it meant nothing to it, probably for obvious image problems.

Since this crisis came to light, the Benue State Government is believed to haves made several attempts to resolve it, but that has remained far to be achieved. Between 1969-1973, the government instituted a commission on boundary dispute, among other conflicts in Tiv.

The Tiv Traditional Administration had set up no fewer than three panels at several times but achieved nothing as a result of the inability of the two communities to agree on settlement .
A committee headed by the paramount rulers of Buruku (Ter) and Katsina Ala (Ter) with the chairmen of Buruku and Katsina Ala Local Councils as members and the Surveyor General of the state that saw the beacon 1-4 in place.

According to Sunday Sun investigation, the security situation has degenerated so much so that police Sgt Clement Keghator posted to Tarka Local Government Area, who strayed into the area was allegedly captured and killed by unknown persons. Eyewitness account on both Ikurav and Kusuv side spoke of casualties running into a hundred persons.

In the Kusuv-Tiev II Ward which is the main theatre of the clashes, the damage has been considerable. The ward which has a voting population of over 6,000 persons has been devastated with farms and economic tress destroyed, houses razed with only 27 still standing. Not even schools were spared in the orgy of violence that has continued unabted. All the primary schools, as well as the only grant-aided Community Science Secondary School in the area; ultra-modern community hall and comprehensive health centre were reduced to ashes. The damage on the Kusuv side is also considerable, though not on the scale of Ikyurav-Tiev.

One notable dimension of the conflict is the sophistication of the arms and weapons freely in use by the two communities, which gives it the character of a war beyond the resources of the inhabitants of the area who are primarily poor peasants. This shows the obvious involvement of the political elite. The conflict has further fueled political and personality differences, as these are now ironed out through the conflict.

This probably explains the cautiousness and apparent lukewarm attitude of the Nigerian Police in responding to the security challenge posed by the recurring conflict. The Benue Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Samuel Jinadu defended the Police thus: “The Police Command in Benue has been vigilant over the crisis and even now that I am talking to you, the men of the Mobile Force are stationed in those places for surveillance.” Asked whether the Police are aware of the recent heavy fighting in the area since January 7, he said: “We are yet to receive any report from our men on ground of such a devastating attack.”

At the insistence of the Benue State government, the Benue State Boundary Committee was manadated to carry out a thorough investigation of the crisis and come out with a report:

Apart from the disagreements from the feuding communities, the demarcation work which was supposed to have begun in ernest was, however, suspended on the ground weather and other conditions.
Spokesmen from the warring communities, according to Sunday Sun findings, were quick to point our that irrespective of the issues involved in the conflict, it was the statutory responsibility of the government, both state and federal, to protect lives and property. They, therefore, called on the government to take prompt and decisive action to restore law and order to the affected communities.

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.