About 300 houses have been set ablaze in the latest of the clashes between the Jukun and the Tiv in Taraba State.
Jukun militants are suspected of attacking a Tiv village – Tor-Damsa, in Donga local government area- in the early hours of Saturday.
But a Tiv activist in the state, Stephen Butu has urged calm, warning against reprisals by the Tiv.
Butu asked the Tiv to support Governor Darius Ishaku in resolving the age-long crisis between the two ethnic groups.
Eyewitnesses said thousands of people have been rendered homeless in the aftermath of the attack.
Terkuma Tsetim, a resident of the affected community, claimed that the attackers numbering 500 wore military uniform.
The Federal University, Wukari was recently shut down when the violence spilled to the campus.
The major cause of the crisis is the claim by the Jukun that the Tiv are “settlers,” in Taraba State, and therefore, have no ownership right to the land they occupy and should leave.
Governor Darius Ishaku, though Jukun, does not share the view.
“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 recently.
Butu hailed Ishaku for his “bold and honest pronouncement,” and asked the Tiv to support the governor in his peace efforts.
He advised them to shun the temptation of resorting to reprisals over the attack on Tor-Damsa,saying: “The Jukun/Tiv crisis is a source of worry to the governor. His wife is Tiv.
“Ishaku’s statement, that we are indigenes in Taraba, did not come to me as a surprise. He has only stated the truth, which I know him for.
“All the governors of Taraba State, including Darius Ishaku, were chosen by God. That is why when Taraba slipped into crisis, God brought Ishaku to steer Taraba.
“When Ishaku came onboard in 2015, Tiv were displaced in Gashaka, Bali and Gassol, and their lands were confiscated. His first project was to suspend traditional rulers who were responsible for the crime.
“The governor made sure all displaced Tiv people returned to their homes. That was when he coined his popular peace slogan: ‘Give me peace and I will give you development.’
“If Ishaku doesn’t love Tiv, he wouldn’t have done that. If he hated Tiv, he wouldn’t have married a Tiv woman and made her First Lady of the State.”
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