The communal crisis between communities in Oju and Konshisha Local Government Areas of Benue State could affect the economic fortunes of the state if not handled properly,the National Coordinator, National Association of Igede Progressive Forum (NAIPF), Elder Sunday Oibe has warned.
He, however, said all political leaders in the two LGAs should be sacked if the communal crisis between the two councils continued.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday in Kaduna, Mr Oibe said if the political leaders could wade into the crisis by talking to the people of the affected communities particularly the youths, peace could be restored in the areas.
According to him, as long as the political leaders from the areas remain aloof in the crisis, there would be no end to the communal clash.
“I believe that if all the political leaders in Oju and Konshisha stand their ground and tell the youths to stop the fight, the youths will listen to them and stop the crisis.”
“But a situation whereby they decided to remain aloof to the crisis, one is left with little or no option than to call for their sack in their respective constituencies because they have failed to bring peace to the communities.”
“However, I want to commend the State governor, Samuel Ortom and his deputy for the steps taken so far. They should ensure that the perpetrators of this crisis are brought to book. If after the land demarcation there is still a crisis, the government must use its power to send defaulters to jail because they are giving the State a bad name. The governor should close his ears to name-calling and do his best to return peace to Oju and Konshisha local government areas.”
“Sometimes in June last year, there was a land dispute between Ukpute people in Oju local government and Bonta people in Konshisha local government area of Benue State.”
“Some of us were concerned because the people from the two communities have been living together without crisis. Igede have never fought with their neighbours. So we were worried.”
“But sometimes in September last year, the State governor, Samuel Ortom in conjunction with the paramount ruler of the Tiv people, the Tor Tiv warned the warring parties to embrace peace because they said they want crisis in the State. And to me, that was commendable.”
READ ALSO: Imo APC commences Ward Congress
“We have no reason to fight ourselves because fight does not bring development. We thought it was all over until we saw a renewed hostility this year. It is my appeal that the two warring communities should lay down the arms for peace to reign because if there is no peace, there can never be progress.”
“I want to appeal to the youths to respect the elders in the communities by obeying them and to stop the fight because where there are elders there should be peace.”
“The youths of Bonta in Konshisha and the youths of Ukpute in Oju should come together and lead a protest to the governor, demanding for good roads, and they will get enough supporters, instead of killing themselves over land demarcation. They should not eat their tomorrow today by killing themselves because war and destruction do not bring development to anybody. They should ensure bitterness.’
“I want to beg the elders of the communities to intervene in the matter because it is an aberration for the elders to be alive and seeing the youths killing themselves. The elders should be able to say no to mayhem and destruction of property and lives. When people are thinking of going to space, we are fighting over mundane things; fighting over land.”
“Igede people are people with large hearts who believe in the development of their land and the State in general. They don’t believe in reprisal attacks no matter the level of provocation.”
“Igede nation is so blessed and strategically located in Benue State. The Igede land is bounded by Tiv, Idoma, Cross River and Ebonyi State.”
“You can go back to history and find out that Igede people are known for farming, hard work, and truthfulness. The Igede people never had a problem with their neighbours because they don’t believe in aggression and fighting. The Igede people believe in peace and neighbourliness and that is their nature.”
“Tiv people have been our brothers, just as Idoma people have been our brothers. Igede is the third major tribe in Benue after Tiv and Idoma,” he said.
There had been incessant cases of communal clashes between the people of Konshisha and Oju over boundary demarcation.
As part of efforts to resolve the crisis, the Benue State Government held series of meetings with stakeholders from both local governments with a view to arriving at an amicable solution to the problem. However, there were reports of fresh fighting in the areas.