Taraba: Returning IDPs Are Not Bandits – Cultural Group Cautions

By Callistus Agwaza, Jalingo

The Tiv Cultural and Social Association (TCSA) Taraba state, have asked the security agencies and local authorities in the southern senatorial district of Taraba state to desist from tagging Tiv people, especially the IDPs in Wukari local government as bandits.

Chief James Baka, president general of the association who made the caution in a press release on Friday, expressed dismay over the unfortunate continued tagging and branding of the Tiv people in Taraba, especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Southern part of the state as bandits by some security agencies and local authorities.

“We wish to inform the general public that the Tiv people in the Southern part of Taraba, especially in Wukari local government area have been displaced from their ancestral homes for over four years now, and are only seeking the state government intervention to return.

“We want to inform the general public that the Nigerian Army and local authorities in Wukari local government have deliberately tagged the Tiv IDPs in the area, and some parts of Donga LGA as bandits. They tagged them in such that any attempt to return to their ancestral homes attract death or arrest in the name of a bandits. How can a displaced person who is helplessly seeking government security and relief materials to return home would be a bandit? Where does he have money to acquire weapons for banditry? We want anyone involve in such attitude to desist.

“Just recently, some IDPs returned to Ikyernum and Tor-Iorshagher Villages in Wukari, as well as Akinde Village in Dona LGA but were attacked and killed. The Wukari LGA chairman, Hon. Dauda Samaila first went and asked the IDPs to return back to their IDP camps until they are ask to return before the helpless IDPs were attacked and killed the following morning. How can one who is a bandit allow himself to be severally attack and displaced without attacking back?

“We want the general public to know that Tiv displaced areas in Southern Taraba, especially in Wukari and some parts of Donga LGA have now become safe abodes for criminal where they hide and carry out their criminal activities. For security agencies and the local authorities in the areas to continue attributing criminal activity in those area to the innocent Tiv IDPs who have fled the areas and are looking up to them for safe return is mischief, a clear attempt to isolate the Tiv people and place them for destruction.

“We vehemently condemned all acts of criminality in Taraba state and pledge to never for once, aid criminality of any kind. We want the whole world to know that we are not bandits. We are IDPs whose rights have been denied.

“We wish to appeal to the Chief of Army Staff and other heads of security agencies to take punitive measures against officers who have occupied our ancestral villages but are deliberately preventing us from returning. We appeal to the State and Federal Government not to hesitate, but deploy all immediate and necessary means to resettle all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), particularly in Wukari and Donga local governments to enable them prepare for the next farming season.

“We also appeal to both Taraba state and the Federal Government to provide relief materials for the IDPs, just as we sympathise with families and communities who lost their love ones and properties during these trying times” The cultural group noted.

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