■ Directs traditional, religious leaders to stop escalation
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Taraba and Benue State governors, traditional rulers, specifically the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka of Wukari, religious and community leaders in the two states to meet urgently to bring an end to persistent violent clashes between Jukun and Tiv people.
This is even as he has called on the government and people of Benue and Taraba States to exercise restraint following the gruesome killing of Rev. Fr. David Tanko at Kpankufu village on Wukari road, Thursday in Taraba.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement quoted Buhari as saying: “The murder of the Catholic Priest highlights the urgency of addressing this embarrassing and persistent conflict.”
Describing such frenzy of human destruction, violent attacks on people and property in the communities by the warring parties as unacceptable, he said the Federal Government will not sit idly and watch the deep-seated antagonistic relationship between the Tiv and Jukun people fester.
The president said: ‘’I have watched with trepidation and disbelief how hate and bigotry have inhabited the human soul, resulting in brothers killing brothers.
On behalf of the Federal Government and the entire people of the country, I offer my condolences to the Catholic community, the government and people of Taraba over the losses arising from recent incidents involving the warring communities.
“The persistent deaths and destruction and the seeming desire by the warring sides to push each other to extinction is embarrassing, and this is against the essence of our ethnic and religious diversity in the country. Progress is impossible where violence and destruction are allowed to dominate our daily lives.’’
While acknowledging that the Tiv/Jukun violence is one of Nigeria’s most persistent and intractable security problems, Buhari assured the affected communities that the Federal Government will not leave them to their fate or treat cases of communal violence with levity and indifference.
“The deployment of security men can only provide a temporary solution.
The long term and lasting solution to this deep-seated antagonistic relationship between the warring factions depend on the willingness of those involved to listen to reason and give peace a chance.
“It is time for leaders of the ethnic groups to come together and draw up a roadmap for lasting peace. The impact of this persistent violence on the social and economic life of the people is incalculable.”
He disclosed that a high level intervention from the federal level made up religious, community leaders and top security operatives is being put together by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to examine all issues underlying the conflicts in the hope of finding a permanent solution.