Chris Steven, Abuja
The Middle- Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG) has called former Chief Army Staff, Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma, to stop the ongoing killings of Tiv farmers by armed militias from Jukun area of the state.
The group said Danjuma coluded with youths of Jukun to carry out attacks on Benue farmers in Ukum LGA of the state.
MBCG in a statement signed by Its President, Prince Raymond Enero and Secretary-General, Dr. Paul Itodo, asked Gen. Danjuma to call his kinsmen to order.
The statement also urged the ex-solider to immediately warn his tribesmen to desist from the incessant killing of Tiv people.
The statement below.
MBCG is saddened with the penchant or mentality to impulsively resort to violence and killing as a means of settling minor disputes and acrimonies by our brothers and sisters in this region.
The ongoing violence and killings between the Jukuns and Tivs on the border communities of Kante in Wukari LGA of Taraba state and Ukum in Benue state is regrettable and most unfortunate.
There is no sensible provocation to push the Jukun people to take up arms against their Tiv brothers either in Wukari in Taraba or Ukum in Benue states.
Reasons for the eruption of the current crisis which has placed Tiv farming communities in disarray are absurd, senseless and barbaric. Our independent findings in Wukari LGA of Taraba state, where the idea was conceived reliably gathered that some suspected armed youths violently assailed and brutally murdered military personnel in Wukuri. The armed killers went into hiding after the commission of the dastardly act.
By military tradition known to us in Nigeria, the killing of its personnel irked them. But instead of a general reprisal attack on the community where the killing occurred, they launched a painstaking secret investigation to unveil the actual culprits.
However, the inclination of some armed criminals and their collaborators to stoke trouble decided to speculate on the killing, erroneously pointing accusing fingers at Tiv youths in Kante, Wukari as responsible for the murder of the military personnel to spark reprisal attacks on Tiv communities by soldiers.
Unfortunately for the purveyors of violence, the Military refused to accept the malicious rumour and proceeded with its discreet investigation to find out the truth.
The result of the military’s preliminary investigation plainly disclosed that Jukun youths at Kante were responsible for the killing of the military personnel. And the military in further reaction arrested some Jukun community leaders for detailed investigation to identify the actual suspects from interrogation of the community leaders.
Unfortunately, the arrest of the Jukun leaders provoked Jukun youths who felt betrayed by Tiv people. They alleged Tiv people provided information to the military on the source of the killing of the military personnel. This simple and normal course of action instigated Jukun youths and armed militias to launch the unbridled attacks, killings and arson on Tiv communities in revenge.
We are not aware of any other contrary version of the cause of the present crisis. It is condemnable and irrational for normal human beings to act in this wicked and evil manner. The Tiv farmers Jukun youths have continued to attack and render homeless in their ancestral abodes have done nothing wrong to warrant such violence on their communities.
MBCG is tempted to believe strongly that the ancient feud and acrimony between the Jukun and Tiv populations in Taraba state is replaying and for no just cause. It is unreasonable and crude to think or act in this manner. It is a needless violence, meaningless expression of hate on a tribe to the extent of ascribing to it your own sins. It is an avoidable war.
We are tempted to believe the Jukun armed militia are acting the script of Gen. TY Danjuma (rtd) who on March, 24th, 2018 at the Taraba State University maiden Convocation ceremony, urged his Jukun brothers and indeed other Nigerians to self-defence.
The former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister echoed that “You must rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the Arm Forces to protect you, you will all die…I ask all of you to be on your alert and defend your country, defend your state,”
We believe it is the error of judgment of this statement from Danjuma by Jukun youths that has led to the present crisis. Perhaps, the alleged killing of the military officer by Jukun youths was their idea of self-defence as propagated by Danjuma.
And the current round of violent siege of Tiv communities in Wukari and Ukum is the extension of self-defence by Jukun youths. We have no doubt that it is the Jukun youths’ interpretation of Gen. Danjuma’s call for self-defence, probably because they feel killing their Tiv brothers over the arrest of Jukun community leaders is the self-defence of these leaders and shielding of the real suspects in the murder of the military personnel. This is horrible and senseless. It must cease forthwith.
To deliberately murder a human being in wrong and those who commit such abominable acts must not be protected by tribe or community, as the Jukun people seem to be doing. The military must be allowed to complete its assignment and handover the actual suspects to prosecuting authorities for justice to be done in accordance with the law.
Gen. TY Danjuma has to search his conscience thoroughly. If he does it, he will realize that his long standing disdain and hatred for the TIv people has emboldened his kinsmen to violence and killing of Tiv people in history. It is responsible for the frequent attacks on Tiv communities in Taraba and Benue states.
Danjuma has lived his life and it is extremely farcical for him to continue to supervise the massacre of Tiv people for whatever reason. It is not befitting of a man of his status. He must not reward Nigeria for making him what his is today, in this negative manner.
The time for Danjuma to speak to his conscience is now. His intentional silence, as an elder statesman since the current violence on Tiv farmers in Wukari and Ukum LGAs broke out are pointers to his endorsement of it. MBCG views his inaction as contempt for the peace, unity and security of Nigeria.
We therefore call on African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and World leaders to sanction Gen. TY Danjuma. They should prevail on him to stop colluding with the militias of his kinsmen to exterminate the Tiv people of Taraba and Benue states. The rampant killing of these innocent people by Danjuma’s kinsmen is alarming, wicked and evil. And it should not be condoned any longer.