By Peter Duru
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has condemned recent communal crisis between Jukum and Tiv communities on the border of Benue and Taraba states, which claimed lives and forced many out of their homes in search of safe haven.
Recall that two days ago, at least five persons were feared dead, including an aged woman who was reportedly burnt alive in her house while over 300 houses and farmland were also razed when alleged armed Jukum militia from neighbouring Kente community in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, invaded Atsenga village in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State.
Ortom regretted that the conflict, which started as a minor disagreement between individuals led to the loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and appealed to the feuding parties to embrace peace.
The governor in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Terver Akase, stressed that he was in consultation with his Taraba State counterpart, Governor Darius Ishaku, and had taken far-reaching measures to end the conflict and restore lasting peace to the border communities and urged people of the affected communities to embrace the initiative.
He said: “I, therefore appeal, to the people of the affected communities to support the peace initiatives of the governments of the two states to prevent further conflicts in the area.
“The Jukum and Tiv, in particular, should emulate the example set by their sons, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Catholic Diocese of Jos and Most Reverend Father James Bature, whose peacebuilding efforts have immensely contributed to settling the age-long rivalry between the two ethnic groups spread across Taraba and Benue states.
“We must appreciate the fact that there is no alternative to peace, which was why l promptly directed my Adviser on Security to visit Taraba State shortly after the unfortunate incident, where he held meetings with key stakeholders, including the Aku Uka of Wukari, as well as Chairmen of Ukum (Benue) and Wukari (Taraba) local government areas.”
While sympathizing with victims of the crisis, the Governor assured that security agencies had been directed to apprehend perpetrators of the violence for the prosecution to serve as a deterrent.