A REJOINDER TO HON. PIUS SABO’S PRESS BRIEFING
BY CHIEF EMMANUEL ORTSWEN
Hon. Sabo, nobody wins this kind of war
If not for the fact that Hon. Pius Sabo is an elected political leader, who supposedly, represents the interest of the community that I also belong in the Taraba State House of Assembly, I would not have joined issues on the same platform with him over the lingering internecine crisis between the Tiv and the Jukuns in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State.
For those who may not know him, Hon. Pius Sabo, is a member of Taraba State House of Assembly, representing Wukari 1 constituency. On the 2nd May, 2019, he addressed the press in Jalingo on the ongoing crisis in Wukari LGA of the state.
In the press statement, which was published on some social media platforms, the law maker alleged that Jukun people are attacked on daily basis in some rural communities and urban center of Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State by some gang of armed Tiv Militias from Benue State.
From here, this House of Assembly member, supposedly representing the entire people of Wukari 1 Constituency, drew the attention of the international community, Benue and the Taraba state governments on villages that are attacked by Armed Tiv Militias from Benue State. The purpose of the attack, he explained, is to decimate and liquidate the Wukari Jukun people, in order to take over their God-given ancestral lands and natural resources.
Among other things, he warned that: “Tiv nation should disregard the idea of implementing 10 points peace agenda, particularly in the area of reconstituting Wukari Traditional Council to accommodate Tiv as members of Wukari Traditional Council.” He buttressed his point, by saying that, no Emirate or Traditional Council in Nigeria has given membership to ethnic groups residing in its domain because of their population.
In his briefing, Hon. Sabo mentioned Kente, Chonku, Akwana, Arufu, Chinkai, Fyayi, Ando-Katswen, Kwatan Tsufa, Sondi and Wapan Nghaku villages, as targets of attacks by Armed Tiv Militias from Benue State. Nothing can be more insensitive than this assertion. Chinkai village has being under the control of the Hausa-Fulanis since 2014. At present, there is no single Jukun man in Chinkai village, just as there no single Tiv man in my village, Sevav, because of the activities of herdsmen and not Tiv militia.Both the District Head of Chinkai , a Jukun and the Village Head of Mbawar have relocated to Wukari and Kente respectively since 2014 . Nghaku village was invaded since 2014 and like Chinkai there is no Jukun man there. Most of the Jukun people from Akwana and Arufu villages are taking refuge in Wukari since 2014, consequent from the herdsmen invasion of these areas. These are glaring facts that Hon. Sabo ought to know. But because he has lost touch with his constituency and the people that he is representing, these facts eluded him.
Throughout his briefing, Hon. Sabo did not mention the killings, burning and looting of the Tiv people in his constituency (Wukari 1) by the Jukun militia, not to talk of condemning their horrendous activities. Many Tiv people of Wukari origin were gruesomely murdered in Wukari town, but to Hon. Sabo, there is no problem as far as it is the Tiv blood that is spilled. What about those Tiv villages obliterated by Jukun militia? What about Ikyaor, Igbogom, Ioryina, Deke, Chiina, Torluam, Zegeate, Kyornum, Daa, Tor-Musa, to mention but a few. So Hon. Sabo did not know that these villages exist, in other words, is he not aware that these villages are burnt to ashes, their occupants, either killed or chased away, their farm produce looted, by the Jukun militia? Ironically, these are villages that Hon. Sabo traversed through, few months ago canvassing for their votes. He is supposed to be their representative in the Taraba House of Assembly. They are “decimated” and “liquidated” by the Jukun militia, but to Sabo, it is a normal.
Although some people are mischievously giving the crisis an interstate colouration, so as to divert the attention of the concerned stakeholders seeking for solution, but it behooves on Hon. Sabo, who is a representative of the people, to speak the truth. Painting a picture that the Benue Tiv militia is attacking innocent Jukun town and villages, without given a mention on the Tiv situation, who are also being killed by the Jukun militia, is a grave injustice to humanity. As a representative of the people, he ought to have condemned the pervading wave of criminalities by both the Tiv and Jukun militia and thereafter initiate moves that will reconcile the warring ethnic groups. This is the hallmark of a leader and this is what is expected of him.
But all these are not new to some of us. Over the years, the Tiv people of Wukari LGA, are being sentenced and confined into a settler status and therefore not worthy of any gesture that can give them a sense of belonging, or even enliven their socio-economic and cultural values. Some jukun leaders have become protagonists of the indigene settler ideology, using their vantage positions to promote hate speeches, profiling the Tiv for annihilation and fanning the embers of this needless crisis. This disposition emboldens criminally minded elements in taking arms against Tiv people, in the name of protecting the Jukun’s God-given ancestral lands and natural resources.
I’m leaving the protagonist of this ideology to their consciences. Also, I will not glorify the position of these devilish ideologists with a genealogical background of the Tiv people of Wukari Local Government. But the fact remains that, the Tiv people are as old as Wukari LGA itself, even as the Tivs of Wukari are more indigenous in Wukari than some of these Jukun people who are only happy when Tivs and Jukuns are burning and killing each other.
Let me use this medium to remind the facilitators and sponsors of this conflict that nobody wins this kind of war. If the Jukuns succeeded in wiping the population of the Tivs of Wukari, but it is not a victory because they have added no value on their nation. Neither is it a victory for the Tivs, if the entire Jukun kingdom is obliterated. With our social cultural composition, any injury for the Jukun man will directly or vicariously affect a Tiv man and vice versa. As a stakeholder in Wukari Local Government by birth and by right, the Tiv in me dies when I hear that a Jukun man is killed for whatever reason. Anytime, I hear that a Jukun community is attacked, I feel bad. Growing up in Wukari environment, and because of our cultural affinity, these villages mean a lot to some of us. Not only do we have friends and loved ones spread across the communities, we have diverse nature of interests in all the villages, be it a Tiv or Jukun settlement. I’m not talking of intermarriages and friends we have across board. It is indeed a bond that is too late to scuttle.
While the Wukari Traditional Council under our father Aku Uka of Wukari is building bridges of peace by appointing Tiv as Village Heads, you the political class are busy burning these bridges by refusing the Tiv their political right of being involve in the administration of our dear Local Government.When I lost my mum few months ago, the paramount ruler of Chinkai, a Jukun man, who is a third class chief commiserated with me. He made the same representation, when I was giving my daughter out in marriage. When Chinkai was hit by flood, some years back, I made my humble donation for relief materials. I also contributed my little quota to the building of a befitting House for the late village head of Chinkai, among other things.
My brother Hon. Sabo, these are values that we need to protect and promote. The indigene – settler ideology was promoted in the past by some of our forefathers, but to me there is nothing we can show for it as a people. Instead, we have economic backwardness and monuments of ethnic hatred scattered all over our communities. I wish Hon. Sabo and his team players in this unpopular agenda reflect on this.
Hon. Sabo has called on the law enforcement agencies to beef up security in the area, but this is a remote solution therapy, the obvious solution lays in the perception and mindset of the likes of Hon. Sabos. And until they changed their perception and start thinking that Jukun and Tiv people of Wukari are one, the younger generation of the Jukun people will continue taunting the Tiv people, cashing in on any opportunity to attack and drive them away from what Hon. Sabo termed as the Jukun’s ‘God-given ancestral lands and natural resources’.
Lastly kindly refer to the Biblical story of Haman, in the Book of Esther Chapter 3, from verse 8 to the end of the Chapter. I guess you know what happened to him. Haman’s desperate petition to King Xerxes was to have the Jews, who he described as,” a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom” exterminated. But at the end, what happened? Hamman became the victim.
The dream to obliterate the Tiv people of Wukari, especially in this century, is an illusion that cannot be achieved. Therefore, let us join hands and embark on projects that will benefit our people.
Chief Emmanuel Ortswen,
Nom Ivaan of Mbawar