TIV-JUKUN RESETTLEMENT PROCESS SUFFERS SETBACK
With the killing of IDP returnees in Tor-Iorshaer village, Governor Darius Ishaku’s plan to resettle the victims of Tiv-Jukun crisis has suffered a setback, more so that the Committee is delaying in its mandate. Williams Ayooso reviews the situation.
Those who expect that the Chonku, Asa Communities resettlement committee will be a succor and panacea for the displaced will have a little more time to wait.
Governor Darius Ishaku has constituted the committee two months ago with a mandate to resettle the displaced belligerent and beleaguered Jukun, Tiv inhabited communities. The Chonku and Asa communities’ resettlement plan, according to the Governor, were to serve as a pilot effort to ensure a safe return of all displaced persons in the war ton communities in the state.
Two months has passed and still counting, the committee has never demonstrated any capacity to deliver on its mandate. Again, the efforts of the committee are on collision course with some members of the communities that they are targeting to resettle. Bored by the Committee’s slow space, Tor-Iorshaer village, few kilometres from Wukari town, tried to resettle itself. They were attacked by unknown gunmen leading to the death of four.
An eyewitness, Mr Donald Meer, told our reporter that the gunmen suspected to be Jukun militia attacked the Tor-Iorshaer village at about 10pm, killing the four persons. He named those killed in the attack as Godwin Meer, Terlumun Mdooga Mbakpenev, Alfred Sylvanus Mchivga and Ayar Chia, Donald Meer said the attackers fled the scene in two vehicles before the arrival of soldiers stationed in the area.
The following day, some returnees were also attacked as they board vehicles enroute to Tse Daa, Tsokundi ward, also in Wukari Local Government. Two people were reported death. Locals also reported that a man was killed in his farm around Tsokundi village. Hostilities are gradually renewing as incidents of attacks and counter attacks are rapidly resurfacing.
The committee which had Edward Ajibauka as Chairman was mandated to determine total number of displaced persons and casualties in the two chiefdoms of Chonku and Assa, identify volume of damages, determine the immediate needs of the people and how government can help them, among other terms of references.
In his speech during the inauguration Governor Ishaku said he was performing an important task of setting up a committee that will make possible, the desire of the displaced persons to go back to their homes and resume their normal routines. He charged members of the committee to expedite action on the important assignment given to them, assuring that the result from the committee would serve as a model for similar ones in the near future.
Although the committee has swung into action, but meeting the urgency need that Governor Ishaku contemplated in the inauguration speech, remains an illusion. Two months has passed, no one is resettled and no report is submitted. More worrisome is that there is no day in view for the submission of the report.
However, the Committee has it reasons for the delay. “Some Tiv brothers planted crops at the deserted areas and they are being allowed to harvest their products. Another delay is from the Surveyor. The process of surveying land and allocation of plots is taking time.”
This is what the Chairman of the Committee, Edward Ajibauka told our reporter.
In the Chiefdom of Asa, where people had not farmed on the land, Ajibauka said access road to where the people decided that they would stay is the challenge. In this direction, progress has been made.
“We have cleared the road to that place; we have equally cleared the town itself. What is left now is to take the surveyors there so that they can demarcate the area.” The Chairman explained.
But the Tiv community faults the Ajibauka committee on the allocation of plots. Speaking to our reporter in an interview, Msuugh Mtongo chairman, Tiv Culture & Social Association, Wukari Local Government said they prefer a situation where people, both the Jukuns and Tivs would be allowed to return unconditionally, since the crisis is over.
“The Committee is talking about 100 plots, 50 to the Tiv people and 50 to the Jukuns. But the number of people in the community is more than 2000. Chonku Chiefdom alone has more than 5000 people. The population in Ikyayor polling unit alone is about 3000. Not to talk of other polling units.
“So what are you going to do with 100 plots? We are seen it as a ploy to hijack the lands of the people. We have foreseen it and we will not be part of it.” He said.
What does allocating of plots have to do with the resettlement process, when all that is needed is create an enabling environment for the people to go back to their original homes? Ajibauka explains:
“We are given the instruction by the state governor who set the committee. He said he wants all the IDPS to go back to their chiefdoms and settle with their chiefs who will give them plots of land where we are demarcating…The issue of someone going to his former place or non-former place does not arise now.” He stated.
Ajibauka is not also certain on when the report would be submitted, saying “any time it is ready,” even as he advised the people of Chonku and Asa to live in peace with one another.