Fresh crisis has again erupted between Shomo and Jole ethnic groups in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba state, during which 25 persons were confirmed killed with several others injured, security sources confirms.
Local sources attributed the crisis to a disagreement over the ownership of some ancestral fish ponds, ’’this lingering dispute was the cause of the problem between the two fishing communities.’’
A fleeing resident who simply identified himself as Baba said that, ‘’ over 30 persons were killed and the crisis has been there for ten years; and it seems the government is not willing to end the fish ponds crisis between the two warring communities of Shomo and Jole.
‘’Each tribe, is claiming the ownership,’’ he said.
While residents of the affected areas claims that over 30 persons killed, police confirmed that 25 were killed.
Speaking on Tuesday, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), David Misal, a deputy superintendent of police, said about 100 houses were equally burnt down during the clash which took place in the area on Monday.
The police also confirmed that the conflict had since become an annual occurrence between the Shomo and Jole fishing communities.
“The Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Azare, has stationed patrol teams on ground already and the situation has been brought under control,” he said.
Conflicts between Shomo and Jole had been lingering for decades over claims and counter claims of ownership of the disputed fish ponds.
At a point, the government had to ban fishing activities in the disputed ponds for a period of 10 years but the communities resumed conflicts as soon as the ban was lifted at the return of democracy in 1999.
In the wake of lockdown imposed in Nigeria to contain the spread of novel coronavirus pandemic Taraba had witnessed communal conflicts which include Jukun/ Tiv crisis in the southern parts of the state.
Violence disturbing – Buhari
Reacting to the recent crisis in Taraba , President Buhari said that he is deeply disturbed by the resort to violence over disagreements that could be resolved through dialogue.
According to the President, “These frequent incidents of ethnic and communal violence is a failure of community leadership and the refusal to embrace dialogue as a means of conflict resolution.”
A statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, noted that disagreements over lands or fishing ponds shouldn’t be allowed to degenerate into violence and destruction of life and prosperity.
The President said, “Violence has never settled any problem and, on the contrary, it makes a bad situation worse and lay the seeds of future conflicts.”
While sympathising with the victims and their families, President Buhari appealed to leaders at all levels in Taraba State “to seize the initiative in order to forestall outbreaks of deadly violence by thugs.”
According to President Buhari, “there is the need for community leaders in the State to be more proactive in order to nip threats of violence in the bud.”
He prayed to God to forgive the innocent people that lost their lives in the violence and comfort of their families.