The leadership of the Ichen people in Taraba State has said that they have lost 20 people in the ongoing crisis between them and Tiv group. The Chairman Ichen Cultural Association, Dr. Samuel Ahmed Bibinu disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Jalingo on Wednesday. He alleged that apart from the killing of lchen people by the Tiv militia, 9 towns were completely burnt down and property including foodstuffs and economic trees worth millions of Naira destroyed.
He accused the Tiv people of committing atrocities that include armed robbery and kidnapping in southern Taraba. He gave the names of the Ichen towns destroyed by Tiv militia as GidanAdamu, Gankwe Bariki, Suntai Donga, Zambana, Sanso, and Kwassa Sarki.
He said that other Ichen towns destroyed by Tiv militia include Kwassa Sabo, Dadin Kowa, and Baka Koshi, adding that thousands of Ichen people including women and children have fled to Kurmi, Bali, and Takum. He disclosed that the attack on Ichen people by Tiv militia was unprovoked; pointing out that Ichen people are peace-loving and coexist with neighbors peacefully.
He also called on religious leaders to pray for Ichen people and also prevail on the Tiv people to drop their arms and embrace peace. He said that the displaced Ichen people are in need of assistance of food and medicine to avoid the outbreak of diseases among them.
Reacting ot the allegations, the Chairman Tiv Cultural Association in the state, Mr.Goodman Dahida said the claim made by Ichen was baseless. He said over 80 Tiv were massacred by the Ichen militia in Maraban Donga and Anaunoand other Tiv villages. Mr Dahida said Ichen and Jukun have grand plan to eliminate the Tiv completely out of Taraba State. “God knows who started the attack, but Tiv people were attacked, killed and their property destroyed by the Ichen, but the same Ichen are accusing the Tiv of attacking them without provoking the Tiv,” he said.
He said the land issue between the Tiv and Ichen was used as a cover-up by the Ichen people. He claimed that the Ichen had mobilised Jukun militia from different places to attack and kill the Tiv, which was part of their grand plan to eliminate the Tivpeople in Taraba state. “There was a crisis when both Tiv and Ichen were under former Benue/Plateau and during defunct Gongola State.
“To our understanding, the Jukun people are now more aggressive against the Tiv simply because their son is the Governor of the state,” Dahida said. Mr Dahida claimed that the Tiv suffered heavy casualty because in Maraban Baissa alone, about 50 Tiv were massacred and their houses burnt down by Jukun militia. The police spokesperson, DSP David Misal said, it was very difficult to give an exact figure of the casualty and promised to provide the figures when the records were available. He said soldiers and police were doing their best to restore normalcy in the area.