BY HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi
The authorities of the military operation code-named “Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS)” have brokered truce between warring Tiv and Jukun people of Taraba and Benue States as part of their non-kinetic approach to promoting peaceful coexistence among the two ethnic groups.
The force commander of the OPWS, Maj-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, who met with the communities and their leaders yesterday, said that the forum was designed to end the incessant clashes between the Tiv in Benue and their Jukun counterparts in Taraba.
At the meeting held in DSK Hotel, Kente, Wukari local government area, stakeholders from the two ethnic groups including political leaders, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, and the youths were in attendance.
Gen. Yekini told journalists after the parley that it was held to work out a peace deal between the two warring parties as part of the military’s non-kinetic action.
He said that the crises between the two tribes were in two dimensions, adding that the first was between Jukun and Tiv in Benue and the other between Jukun and Tiv in Taraba which have resulted in the loss of life and property in both states.
Yekini, therefore, stressed the need for both groups to embrace peace and live together as one, noting that opportunities were given to the leaders of both tribes to speak out their minds with a view to finding lasting solutions to the perennial crisis.
He said: “At the end of the deliberations, both ethnic groups agreed to embrace the peace and on the immediate reopening of the Gbeji-Kente-Wukari Road which has been closed since April 2019.
“Also, it was resolved that all illegal roadblocks within the axis should be dismantled, while all Tiv and Jukun residents who had fled their homes during the crisis were asked to return immediately.
“Stakeholders at the meeting also agreed that henceforth, both Benue and Taraba state governments must begin to give political appointments to Tiv or Jukun minorities in their respective states to unite the people,” Yekini said.
He added that the stakeholders further agreed that OPWS should deploy troops along that route so that road users are not attacked anymore.
The commander said that a 12-man peace and reconciliation committee made up of six members from each ethnic group in both states was set up to work with security agencies to ensure permanent peace in the areas.
Yekini recalled that at the end of one of the kinetic operations his troops carried out in the area during the crisis, six assorted weapons were recovered from youths of both ethnic groups while eight youths were arrested and one was shot dead.
He, therefore, warned youths in the area, who are still in possession of illegal weapons to surrender them immediately or face the wrath of the law when caught.
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