The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has expressed concern that the region has allowed fifth columnists to infiltrate them with a ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics in the current conflict that has engulfed the Tiv/Jukun ethnic groups in Taraba State.
The forum noted that the divide and rule tactics were coming when these warring communities and others from the Middle Belt region and Southern Nigeria are being faced with existential threat due to incessant invasions by Fulani herdsmen.
A statement from Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum said, “The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, is highly concerned about the current conflict that has unfortunately engulfed the Tiv/Jukun ethnic groups of Taraba State.
“It is most regrettable that at a time when these warring communities and others from the Middle Belt Region and Southern Nigeria are being faced with existential threat due to incessant invasions by terrorist Fulani herdsmen, they have unconsciously allowed fifth columnists to infiltrate them with a ‘divide-and-rule’ tactics aimed solely at distracting attention from the real enemies of the Nigerian state, the rampaging Fulani herdsmen who have continued to invade our communities; raping, maiming, killing and destroying with impunity.”
MBF observed that the crisis in the region is more worrisome because conflict entrepreneurs and detractors of the Middle Belt people have found a leeway to make political capital out of the crisis by making desperate attempts to blackmail and drag the names of respected personalities and leaders of the region into the conflict.
“Strangely, we have observed with total dismay the desperation with which some amorphous groups and individuals, including the Abuja protest that took place on Tuesday, are being sponsored to deliberately blackmail and drag Gen. Danjuma (rtd) and Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba State into the current Tiv/Jukun crisis.
“While such procured groups and individuals are tasked by their paymasters to level unsubstantiated accusations against the aforementioned elders and leaders, wherein they called on the security agencies to probe their involvement in what they called ‘formation and arming of Jukun Militia’, making it appear as if the call was borne out of a patriotic and genuine concern, but they, however, unconsciously forgot to conceal their ulterior motives and quickly betrayed their evil plans by alleging that the crisis is aimed at portraying the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as incapable of tackling the current security challenges bedeviling the country,” MBF lamented.
The forum added, “Another accusation against Gen Danjuma and Governor Ishaku is that in the face of the present conflict, the duo have continued to maintain a conspiracy of silence. Again, how laughable this is. Our findings reveal that both Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and Governor Ishaku, with their deputies, at different times have convened peace-building meetings to reconcile the two warring communities, with bright prospects on the horizon for restoration of normalcy.”
The statement explained that the forum has also made efforts to reach out to Gen. Danjuma who also revealed the relentless efforts he has privately deployed without any form of publicity to ensure amicable resolution of the conflict between the two ethnic groups.
“By his antecedents, it beats our imagination how mischief makers will deliberately want to drag the name of the respected elder, into the mud, in spite of his patriotism and his unimpeachable track records of having fought for the unity of the country like no other. Whatever agenda that is playing out, and no matter who is behind this campaign of calumny, their despicable motives shall be exposed at the end of the day and their plans are bound to fail.
“While we are at a loss as to why these recruited groups have continued to smear the name of General Danjuma, we are also not unaware of the fact that ever since the Former Defence Minister called on Nigerians to resist the invasion of Middle Belt and Southern communities from terrorist Fulani herdsmen that are in collusion with the military, it became obvious that Gen Danjuma had stirred the hornet’s nest when he told the world that the military was colluding with rampaging herdsmen terrorists to unleash terror on Nigerian communities.
“The recent killing of police operatives on a covert assignment to Taraba who arrested and handcuffed a notorious multi-millionaire kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume, has justified Danjuma’s allegations that the military is indeed colluding with terrorist elements to invade communities,” MBF explained.
The forum said it is grieved over the senseless loss of lives and property, following the unfortunate atrocities between the Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups in Taraba state and therefore commiserate with the families that lost loved ones.
“We seize this opportunity to call on the contending factions to sheathe their swords and give peace a chance by exploring and exhausting available alternative means of dispute resolution without necessarily resorting to violence, more so that all of us are facing a common threat of survival from the onslaught of Fulani herdsmen terrorists,” MBF appealed.