Benue Acting Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, has condemned the recent communal clashes between the Jukuns and Tivs in Benue and Taraba states.
Speaking to newsmen in Makurdi on the outcome of a fact-finding mission to Taraba, Abounu said that the clashes were sparked off by two individuals – one Tiv and the other Jukun.
He said the conflict was “uncalled for and unnecessary”.
The acting governor explained that although the conflict was criminal in nature and involved only the two individuals, the issue later assumed another dimension when several communities got involved resulting to the destruction of property.
“I was a very unfortunate incident; unfortunate in the sense that there was a fracas between two individuals – one Tiv, one Jukun and the Tiv guy was arrested by the police, detained, and later granted bailed.
“For whatever reasons, the Jukun people took offense and felt that the Tiv guy should not have been granted bail and that he should have been taken to Wukari (Taraba state) because he was detained in Gbeji (Ukum LG) somewhere in Benue State.
“So at the end of the day how a criminal issue between two individuals degenerated into a communal clash between the Jukun and Tiv is something we do not understand.
“The crisis took place around Gbeji but at the end it extended to Wukari and to five other areas. Many houses over a stretch of five kilometers were burnt down, properties were destroyed and many shops looted,” he said.
At least, 15 persons were killed on Saturday in a renewed crisis between Jukun and Tiv tribes in Wukari, Taraba State with many houses razed down in the affected communities.
No fewer than seven villages were set ablaze with scores of residents displaced.
The affected areas include Tar-Orshi, Ikyaan Gbaki, Orlumun Nege, Tor-Musa, Ioryina, Kashuan Shanu, and Chonku villages.
According to the acting governor, the Taraba and Benue governments have constituted a committee that will find lasting solutions to clashes between communities in the two states.
He said that the committee was mandated to consult youths from both states and recommend a youth-based solution to the crisis.
“All along leaders discuss, come to agreement and sign communiques and at the end of the day the trouble persists.
“So this time around, we decided that the committee will consult youths from both states; let them suggest to us how to solve this crisis.
“If there are underlying issues that are not known to the authorities the youths should feel free to let us know,” Abounu said. (NAN)