President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku and that of Benue State, Samuel Ortom to immediately end the killings and the communal conflict between the Tiv and Jukun, which has claimed hundreds of lives, the most recent being that of a Catholic Priest, Rev Fr David Tanko on Wednesday.
The president’s order is contained in a State House statement issued yesterday and signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
President Buhari also asked the royal fathers, “specifically the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka of Wukari, religious and community leaders in the two states” to convene meetings to find lasting solution to the perennial conflict.
According to the statement, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha was mandated to institute an intervention committee of religious leaders, community heads and security operatives to “examine all issues underlying the conflicts in the hope of finding a permanent solution.”
Sources said the Catholic Priest, Rev Fr David Tanko, who was on his way to a peace meeting with other clergymen on the escalating Tiv, Jukun crisis, was ambushed and killed at Kufai Amadu/ Kpankufu Village along Wukari Road in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State and that his remains was burnt along with his car.
The statement said the President condemned the killing of the clergyman, saying it “highlights the urgency of addressing this embarrassing and persistent conflict.”
According to the statement, President Buhari said the conflict was “unacceptable”, adding, “I have watched with trepidation and disbelief how hate and bigotry have inhabited the human soul, resulting in brothers killing brothers.
“On behalf of the federal government and the entire people of the country, I offer my condolences to the Catholic community, the government and people of Taraba over the losses arising from recent incidents involving the warring communities.
“The persistent deaths and destruction and the seeming desire by the warring sides to push each other to extinction is embarrassing, and this is against the essence of our ethnic and religious diversity in the country.
“Progress is impossible where violence and destruction are allowed to dominate our daily lives,” adding that the Tiv/Jukun conflict was among “Nigeria’s most persistent and intractable security problems.”
The statement said the president vowed not to “treat cases of communal violence with levity and indifference,” noting that “the deployment of security men can only provide a temporary solution.
“The long term and lasting solution to this deep-seated antagonistic relationship between the warring factions depend on the willingness of those involved to listen to reason and give peace a chance.
“It is time for leaders of the ethnic groups to come together and draw up a road map for lasting peace. The impact of this persistent violence on the social and economic life of the people is incalculable.”