The Middle Belt Forum has lamented resort to ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics by fifth columnists to fuel the current conflict between Tiv/Jukun ethnic groups in Taraba state.
The forum, which alleged that the crisis was being worsened by entrepreneurs and detractors of the Middle Belt people who are exploiting the situation for political capital, said these elements were making desperate attempts to blackmail and drag the names of respected personalities and leaders of the region into the conflict.
A statement issued Thursday by its national president Dr Pogu Bitrus expressed deep worry that the divide and rule tactics were being deplored at a time some warring communities in the region and Southern Nigeria are being faced with existential threat due to incessant invasions by Fulani herdsmen.
“Strangely, we have observed with total dismay the desperation with which some amorphous groups and individuals, including the Abuja protest that took place on Tuesday, are being sponsored to deliberately blackmail and drag Gen Danjuma (rtd) and Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba state into the current Tiv/Jukun crisis.
“While such procured groups and individuals are tasked by their paymasters to level unsubstantiated accusations against the aforementioned elders and leaders, wherein they called on the security agencies to probe their involvement in what they called ‘formation and arming of Jukun Militia’, making it appear as if the call was borne out of a patriotic and genuine concern.
“But they, however, unconsciously forgot to conceal their ulterior motives and quickly betrayed their evil plans by alleging that the crisis is aimed at portraying the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as incapable of tackling the current security challenges bedeviling the country.
“Another accusation against Gen Danjuma and Governor Ishaku is that in the face of the present conflict, the duo have continued to maintain a conspiracy of silence. Again, how laughable this is.
“Our findings reveal that both Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and Governor Ishaku, with their deputies, at different times have convened peace-building meetings to reconcile the two warring communities, with bright prospects on the horizon for restoration of normalcy.”
Speaking on the recent killings of police operatives, the forum said: “The recent killing of police operatives on a covert assignment to Taraba who arrested and handcuffed a notorious multi-millionaire kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, has justified Danjuma’s allegations that the military is indeed colluding with terrorist elements to invade communities,” MBF explained.
The forum said it is grieved over the senseless loss of lives and property, following the unfortunate atrocities between the Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups in Taraba state and therefore commiserate with the families that lost loved ones.
It urged the contending factions to sheathe their swords and give peace a chance by exploring and exhausting available alternative means of dispute resolution.