Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State said on Tuesday that he was working tirelessly with his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom, to end the crisis between ethnic Tiv and Jukun in the border area of the states.
The media aide to the Taraba governor, Bala Abu, said this in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) following allegations by the Tiv Youth Council that the governor and retired defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma, were fuelling the crisis.
NAN reports that the TYC had on Sunday at a news conference accused Gov. Ishaku and Mr Danjuma of inciting Jukun militia to attack Tiv people in the state.
The Tiv/Jukun crisis which erupted from Kente, a border town of Benue and Taraba had led to the loss of many lives including women and children in the last three months.
The TYC president Mike Msuaan, had during the conference called on security agencies to investigate the governor and Mr Danjuma for their alleged roles in the crisis.
According to him, the Tiv nation cannot continue to be cannon fodder for the unity of the country.
Mr Msuaan added: “These worrisome developments have further exacerbated the humanitarian challenge in the nation as we now have to grapple with an even burgeoning number of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“The recent rape, maiming and killing of helpless Tiv students and workers of the Federal University Wukari is indeed one too many, deserving thorough investigation by the security agencies and enduring solutions to entrench peace.
“It is quite surprising that despite several attempts to extend the olive branch and make the warring parties embrace peace, the efforts have all fallen through midway with no tangible results,” Mr Msuaan said.
But Mr Abu said Gov. Ishaku and Gov. Ortom had adopted various methods including meeting with stakeholders from both tribes to ensure peace returned in the area.
“It is a grave allegation to say that someone in the status of Gov. Darius Ishaku and Gen. TY Danjuma will be sponsoring crisis,” he said.
“The truth is that there is history to the crisis between the two ethnic groups (Jukun and Tiv).
“I have visited the crisis area with the governor on five different occasions within two years that I have worked with him and our purpose of going there was to interface with the people living in that area.
“The governor and his Benue counterpart met with stakeholders in that area and all these meetings were targeted at bringing about peaceful coexistence among the people living there.
“So, what will the governor or Gen. Danjuma benefit from the killing of Tiv people and besides the killing is not one-sided.
“The two sides are killing each other, so why are Tiv youths accusing the governor for the crisis.
“Apart from the meeting by the two governors, the deputy governors have also met about six times; all these meetings were about finding peace; so, why the allegation that someone is arming the other people.
“I think the people making this allegation are the people who do not want the crisis to end otherwise both governors are doing so much to bring peace to the area.
“This allegation is false and it cannot stand. It is intended to smear the governor and Gen. Danjuma.
“There is no such thing involving these personalities and they are concerned about what is happening at the bother between the two states.
“They have nothing to gain arming one side to fight the other; it is unfair for them to undermine all the peace efforts and blame the government,” he said.
The governor’s media aide noted that the recent crisis was caused by a fight between two men from Jukun and Tiv who were quarrelling over a female friend.
He wondered why such an issue should warrant the killing of innocent people in spite all peace agreement reached by both parties.
“The people most desire peace just like the governors have done; this is the only way to achieve peace.
“On behalf of the governor, the warring parties should sheath their swords.
“This was part of the governor’s Sallah message on Sunday. He appealed to the people in the name of God to sheath their swords and embrace peace; these were the governor’s message, I am only reechoing it.” (NAN)