Tension is building following the resurgence of the unresolved conflict between residents of border communities of Plateau and Taraba States.
The conflict involves the mainly Tarok speaking people from Langtang South, Langtang North and Wase local government of Plateau axis and Ibi local government from Taraba.
Affected are 13 villages from Taraba State and three local governments from Plateau State, with indications that the border communities could erupt in major ethnic and religious violence soon, unless security was beefed up in the zone.
For instance, on May 31, two citizens of Ibi local government, Garba Ibbi and Adamu Inuwa raised the alarm that ethnic militia made up of Tarok people from Plateau state had annexed 13 Taraba villages and installed Tarok chiefs to head the annexed communities.
Garba Ibbi and Adamu Inuwa, who claimed to be representing Ibi Citizens Forum (ICF) alleged that a group from Langtang South teamed up with another militant group from Wukari to launch violent attacks on some villages in Ibi council.
Citizens’ Forum disclosed that the villages attacked by the Tarok militia and subsequently annexed included; Tapga, Anguwar Kwalla, Kurmin sauri, Ruwan Dutse, Bada Koshi, Zamtun, Maje Biyu, Malla, Kogin Wase Dan Wasen, Koso, Gidan Yanmere, Gidan Kye and Kati, even as Tarok people also installed their men as Chiefs in the annexed villages.
However, the Tarok ethnic group which felt slighted by the allegations, in a statement in Jos last week, said the allegations amounted to kettle calling pot black.
Part of the statement signed by concerned Tarok Youths of Langtang South, Langtang North and Wase, read: “The claims by the Ibi youths is misleading and wicked machination aimed at portraying both the Tarok and Jukun tribes as violent set of people. The truth is, there is no ethnic militia of Tarok extraction from Langtang South or anywhere operating in any part of Taraba State.
“The alleged collaboration by any group from Wukari is not also true, and the alleged annexation is also a false alarm and a calculated attempt to tarnish the image of the two ethnic groups under consideration. Even the alleged installation of local chiefs from Langtang South is equally false.”
The statement was signed by four Tarok youths, Hon. Ishaya Nankap, Hon. Nanpon Musa, Comrade Lohbut Jangle and Hon. Nanbut Faman.
Tracing the origin of the conflict, the statement disclosed, “Wukari and Ibbi are at the tail end of the southern part of Taraba State, while Langtang South incidentally, is also at the Southern part of Plateau State, bordered by parts of Ibbi Local Government in Taraba State,which is severed by River Benue.
“Ibi is on the other side of the River, while Sarkin Kudu and other areas mentioned earlier shared a common boundary with Langtang South in Plateau State.
However, the recent conflict has been traced to some unresolved crisis from both sides of the divide in 2002, which started in Wase Local Government Area, and spread to the entire Southern part of Plateau State.
It was gathered that chairmen of the two local councils have already begun talks aimed at dousing the tension.