Taraba Residents Seek God’s Intervention in Ethno-Religious Clashes, Banditry

  • Say security agencies have failed to guarantee their safety

Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

A sizable number of Nigerians living in Taraba State, a North-eastern state with a population of over three million, have turned to God for their personal security, citing insecurity that have earned the state one of the country’s worst danger zones.

The residents have, also, lost confidence in the capacity of security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, to guarantee their safety and security, citing the state’s unprecedented cases of bandity, killing and kidnapping, among others.

They spoke with THISDAY in confidence between Thursday and Saturday, lamenting the rising incidence of insecurity being recorded in the state on daily basis.

Consequently, the residents confessed that they “have gone spiritual and taken our plight to God in prayers for intercession since security agencies have not been able to protest us.”

One of the residents explained how they had been seeking God’s intervention, praying and interceding regularly to end banditry, kidnapping and all manner of violence.

According to him, we strongly believe that only God’s intervention can restore peace back to the state. We firmly hope God will intervene in our situation.

He acknowledged that the state government and security agencies “are mapping out strategies to contain the recurrent trend of insecurity, but we are safer and more secure in God’s hands.”

Another resident said since its creation in 1991 by the Ibrahim Babangida administration out of the defunct Gongola state, Taraba state had become synonymous with crisis.

He noted that the state, being one of the most ethnically diversified state in the country with no fewer than seventy tribes had witnessed series of communal clashes among the various ethnic group in the state

Between 1991 till date, the resident noted that there had been clashes between the Kuteb and Jukun; Kona and Mumuye; Tiv and Jukun; Fulani and Tiv/Jukun; Mambilla and Fulani; Mambilla and Kaka/Kambu/Panso; Shomo and Jole as well as between Khumbo and Ichen.

Similarly, according to him, there had been repeated clashes between the Fulani and Mumuye; Fulani and Yangdang; Fulani and Kunini; Fulani and Wurukum; Fulani and Jenjo as well as Fulani and Kuteb.

He, thus, said, “All these communal clashes, which had claimed several lives and properties as well as destruction to properties worth billions of naira have in no small measure led to disruption of social and economic lives and led to gross underdevelopment of the state.

Though in all the clashes, the federal and state governments made efforts to nip them in the bud and restore peace but as soon as normalcy returns to the affected communities, clashes break down in other communities.

“Some of the clashes, particularly the Tiv/Jukun crisis and the Jukun/Kuteb crisis lasted for years and months with very high rate of recurrence and have led to the displacement of thousands of people.”

In 2018, an entirely different resident noted that the clash between the Mambilla and Fulani on the Mambilla plateau claimed over a hundred lives though other parties to the crisis claimed over five hundred lives were lost to the clashes.

He said the 2018 crisis was the fourth time the Mambilla plateau “would erupt in clashes. On a particular occasion in 2002, it took the intervention of the United Nations through United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) to resettle those who fled into neighbouring Cameroon back in Nigeria.

“For over a month now, there has been a renewed clash between the Jukun and Tiv in parts of Wukari local government and despite several peace moves spearheaded by the deputy governors of Taraba and Benue state with the Aku Uka of Wukari and the Tor Tiv in attendance, total peace is yet to return to the affected areas.

“Besides the communal clashes, there had been incessant crisis between herdsmen and farmers across the sixteen local government areas of the state.

“At a particular instance, mass burial was conducted for over seventy people who were victims of herdsmen attack in Lau local government area of the state.

“Kidnapping and banditry have also contributed in no small measure to make the state perpetually in crisis mode. A member of Taraba State House of Assembly representing Takum constituency I, Hon. Hosea Ibi, who was abducted on December 31, 2017 at Takum was killed after collecting a huge amount as ransom.”

Meanwhile, the rate of kidnapping across the state particularly in Jalingo, has worsened in recent times, thereby causing serious panic among residents.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Alhaji Hassan Mijinyawa; former Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Joel Ubandoma; Deputy Registrar, Taraba State University, Mr Sanusi Sa’ad; former Accountant of the State House of Assembly, Alhaji Yahaya Lau and the Director of Works, State College of Education, Zing and two wives of Permanent Secretary, Deputy Governor’s office were among the high profile victims of kidnapping within a month.