From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
The military operation code-named, Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, yesterday brokered peace between the warring Tiv and Jukun people of Taraba and Benue States as part of its non kinetic action to promote peaceful coexistence.
The Force Commander of the OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, while addressing the members of the communities and other stakeholders, stated that the peace meeting was meant to end the incessant crisis between the Tiv people of Benue and Jukun people of Taraba States respectively.
The peace meeting which held at DSK Hotel Kente, Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State on Monday, had stakeholders drawn from the two ethnic groups such as political leaders, traditional rulers, opinion leaders, youths among others in attendance.
Speaking to journalists in Makurdi at the end of the meeting, Commander of OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, explained that the crisis between the two tribes were in two dimensions, adding that it was a crisis between Jukun and Tiv in Benue and then between Jukun and Tiv in Taraba which had resulted to loss of lives and property in both states.
Yekini who stressed the need for both ethnic groups to embrace peace and live together as one, said opportunities were given to leaders of both tribes to speak out their minds with a view to finding lasting solution to the perennial crisis.
“At the end of the deliberations, both ethnic groups agreed to embrace peace and immediate reopening of the Gbeji-Kente- Wukari road which had remained closed since the beginning of the crisis which started in April 2019.
“Also, it was resolved that all illegal roadblocks within the axis should be dismantled, while all Tiv and Jukun residents who had fled their homes during the crises were asked to return home immediately.
“Stakeholders at the meeting also agreed that from now henceforth, both Benue and Taraba state governments must begin to give political appointments to Tiv or Jukun minorities in the respective states to unite the people the more”, Yekini said.
He further disclosed that the stakeholders also agreed at the meeting that OPWS should deploy troops along that route so that road users are not attacked along that route.
The commander said a 12-man peace and reconciliation committee made up of six members from each ethnic group in both states was set up to work in collaboration with security agencies to ensure permanent peace in the areas.
He recalled that, at the end of one of the kinetic operations his troops carried out in the area during the crisis, six assorted weapons were recovered from youths of both ethnic groups while eight youths were arrested and one was shot dead.
Gen. Yekini however, warned youths in the area who are currently in possession of illegal weapons with the purpose of using same to commit arson to surrender them immediately or be made to face the full wrath of the law if caught.