BY BEN TAR, JALINGO – The renewed crisis between the farmers and herdsmen in Takum and Ussa local government areas of Taraba state has extended to Donga and Bali local governments in the state, leading to the death of no fewer than 27 people.
Taraba State Command of the Nigerian Police, which confirmed the ugly situation, said the death toll in the affected places has been put at three people in Bali and five in Ussa/Takum.
The Council identified areas affected by the conflict between herdsmen and farmers as Gazabu, Kungana, Tukun Ruwa, Utsua Daa and Kpenkpen villages of Bali local government. Another troubled area is Suntai Daji in Donga local government area of the state. Though the herdsmen’s leadership in the State confirmed that no fewer than 15 of their members were killed, the Tiv Traditional Council in Taraba, on its part, said they lost 12 people in different communities within Bali and Donga local government areas.
Confirming the crisis to newsmen in Jalingo, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP David Misal said the command had deployed more security operatives to the affected areas to forestall further killings. “Yes we receive reports that since on Sunday, there has being series of attacks in the remote communities in Bali local government area of the state, but the Command is on top of the situation.
“Due to the remoteness of the affected areas, we can confirm three death for now, but we will get back to you as soon as we get more updates,” he said.
In his reaction, the Chief of Tiv in Bali (Ter Bali) and Chairman, Council of Tiv Traditional Rulers’ Forum in Taraba, Zaki David Gbaa said 11 of his people were killed by herdsmen in the crisis.
Gbaa noted that herdsmen had attacked Gazabu, Kungana, Tukun Ruwa, Utsua Daa and Kpenkpen villages leaving 11 people dead and injuring scores of others, now receiving treatment at the Bali General Hospital. He condemned the incessant attacks in the area and urged Governor Darius Ishaku to hold all local chiefs in the affected areas accountable for the crisis.
The royal father also appealed to the State House of Assembly to investigate the crisis with a view to bringing a permanent solution to the incessant attacks on his people. According to him 1,765 people were currently camping at the Tiv Council Hall; St. Paul Catholic Church; and NKST Church, all in Bali town.
On his part, the Lamdo Bakundi, Alhaji Misa Gidado, in whose domain the crisis broke out, told newsmen that there has been series of stakeholders’ meetings aimed at ensuring a quick end to the crisis in the area. He pleaded with government to deploy more security operatives to the area to restore peace.
Recently, herdsmen in the State through the Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBA), Taraba state branch had alleged that 15 of their members were killed and buried in Takum, a claim dismissed by the police authorities, saying only five people lost their lives in the said crisis.
According to the Police Command, the renewed crises was sparked off by the killing of a farmer from Kuteb extraction. The Command, which assured that it is on top the situation, however called on the people to embrace peace.
In a press statement dated May 10, 2017, the Executive Committee of Kuteb Yatso also refuted claims by the herdsmen that only their people were killed in the crisis, noting that the casualties cut across all ethnic nationalities in the affected areas.