Many feared killed in fresh Tiv/Jukun crisis

Nigeria Police officers are working with the military to counter insurgency.
Nigeria Police officers are working with the military to counter insurgency.

Many were feared killed on Saturday in a fresh crisis between Jukun and Tiv tribes in Wukari, south of Taraba State.

Fleeing residents said many houses were razed and several people injured in the clashes.

The conflict has affected some villages belonging to both tribes along Wukari Kwatan Sule, Chonku and border communities of Jootar and Vaase.

Trading blames

A Jukun community leader, Bako Benjamin, said despite the peace accord reached last week between the two warring communities, “Tiv ethnic militias have continued to launch pockets of attacks on our communities.”

“Just this morning in the wee hours, they struck at Chonku firing sporadically and razed down houses. They attacked four of our communities in the last three days and as I am talking to you, corpses of 15 people killed by Tiv militias have been deposited in Wukari and we have compiled their names.”

However, Orbee Uchiv, a Tiv spokesman, denied this.

“Our people are being attacked by Jukun ethnic militias in recent times. A peace meeting at Jootar, a border town between Benue and Taraba States convened by one Rev Father Dankaro and other priests to sue for peace was truncated.

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‘’Thursday morning, Vaase, a border town was attacked by Jukuns. More than 12 people were killed. Probably on reprisal this morning, Chonku, a border Jukun settlement, was attacked.

“As I am talking to you now, looting, arson and killing within and around villages of Tiv people is going on and hundreds of Tivs have fled to Benue state,’’ he said.

It was gathered that the misunderstanding was due to a long standing dispute between the two ethnic groups and it centered on cultural heritage.

The chairman of Wukari local government area, Daniel Adi, confirmed the outbreak of crisis in the area.

He also said many were feared killed and houses burnt in the last five days of fighting.

“I have since reached out to the Chairman of Ukum local government in neighbouring Benue and the Security Adviser to the Benue Governor and we are making efforts to stop the escalation of the crisis,” he said.

Reports also indicate that commercial activities have come to a halt at the popular Wukari Yam Market as shops were looted.

Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, David Misal, said security operatives “were on the top of the situation”.

“Security operatives have been deployed in the affected areas, though I am yet to confirm casualty figures in the latest attacks,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday.

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