The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, His Grace, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has described the Jukun Tiv crisis which has ravaged southern Taraba as a mystery.
Speaking when a delegation of Tiv Taraba community residents in Abuja led by Mr Samuel Orhena called on him over the weekend, the archbishop said the mystery can only be resolved when the two combatants apologise for the evil things they have done to one another and forgive themselves.
He recalled that the two ethnic groups had coexisted from time immemorial and wondered why they have suddenly become belligerent, intractable enemies, fighting, killing and destroying each other’s property.
The Archbishop who confessed that he belongs to the Jukun ethnic groups but has maintained a long list of Tiv friends said he has made endless appeals to members of the two ethnic groups to shield their swords without success.
“When you talk to the Tiv group, they give you a long list of bad things that have been done to them by the Jukun. Same with the Jukun when you talk to them, they will complain of the wrongs the Tiv have done to them. No group is willing to agree that they have ever done anything wrong to the other. And yet, until this is done, and we pray to God for forgiveness, there will be no solution.”
Earlier, a spokesman of the group Mr David Orbee said the Tiv of Taraba looked up to the Arcbishop with hope especially after an appeal he made the at the Saint Luke Catholic Parish in Kubwa, Abuja, last Sunday while delivering a homily on the need for Nigerians to show hospitality and love to one another.
The Archbishop had called on the federal government to site agricultural projects on the land that is disputed between the two tribes adding that doing so would automatically end the crises and foster economic progress, social integration and peaceful coexistence.
The Archbishop regretted that Nigerians that were welcomed in other countries were the same people that tagged one another as foreigners at home.
Mr Orbee said the comments by the Archbishop were very encouraging to the Tiv who are being wrongly tagged settlers and immigrants on their own land.
He traced the history of the Tiv people and the Jukun to pre-colonial times and came to the conclusion that the differences between the two ethnic groups were political and had nothing to do with land dispute.
According to him there was a time when the Jukun, Tiv and Hausa community in southern Taraba sat down and shared political positions amicably. When this was done in the past, there was peace and harmony. The problem came he observed when the Jukun resolved that the Tiv are immigrants and should be excluded from the political process and contest.