Commuters who ply the most popular federal highway between Katsina/ Ala to Jalingo via Wukari now need a rethink as the road now has become a deathtrap to the motorist. For now, the road has been taken over by Jukun and Tiv militias who allegedly use guns, machetes and other light arms on passengers to revenge as a counter-attack.
LEADERSHIP Friday who visit the road recently observed that the deadliest route is between Wukari town in Taraba state and Jootar village in Benue state. Over the years, the two tribes along the Taraba/ Benue border have been engrossed in conflict, killing themselves and now have deadly militia groups who are now on a rampage.
Our correspondent also gathered that over 754 people have been killed in the Tiv/Jukun crisis both in Taraba and Benue states while villages, hamlets and towns within the two states were burnt, destroyed while properties worth billions of naira have been destroyed in less than 14 months.
The two governors of the states Darius Ishaku of Taraba and his counterpart Samuel Ortom of Benue have set up committees headed by their deputies to come up with ideas to stop the crisis since 2019, but the committees’ work and report seem to be fruitless as the killings continue. Also, a visit by LEADERSHIP Friday to Chonku, a village at the centre of Taraba/Benue Border shows that the joint task force that was stationed in the village has deserted the checking point due to fear of being attacks by the militias. The joint task force of military, police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were earlier stationed in the area to curtail the excesses of the militias who at slightest provocation block the road, search for passengers who are from other ethnic nationalities, take them to bush and slaughter them in cold blood as reprisal attack.
LEADERSHIP survey at Wukari town in Taraba and Zaki Biam town in Benue shows that the two major towns were a no-go area for motorists from both towns for now. Meanwhile, at the border town, no vehicle embarked on a trip from Wukari to Benue while no vehicle boarded from Zakibiam to Taraba state. It was gathered that the militias in the early hours of Wednesday 7 April, 2020 attacked the joint taskforce in Chonku village, the militias allegedly burnt down of Jootar, a village close to the border town in Benue. Also, it was reported that some security personnel were killed in the attack which prompted the removal of the joint task force checkpoint at Chonku village. A Mobile policeman who spoke to our correspondent on the lonely road in confidence said all the members of the joint task force who use to stay at Chonku village have deserted into Wukari due to fear of further attacks.