The casualty figure in the ethno-religious crisis in Wukari and Ibi local government areas of Taraba State has risen to 44. More people were killed in retaliatory attacks –on the roads and in remote hamlets. Eye-witnesses said some of the bodies had their heads cut off.
More houses were also discovered to have been torched in the resurgence of violence which erupted on Sunday. Tension has grown high in other areas, including Takum and Donga local government councils. During an “assessment tour” by the police yesterday, 15 bodies were recovered.
Police spokesman Joseph Kwaji said 11 bodies were recovered in Ibi. Four were recovered in Wukari.
“We are carrying out an assessment tour of the crisis area. We went to Ibi and we are now in Wukari. “In Ibi, we recovered 11 bodies; 21 persons were injured. In Wukari; we got about four bodies,” said Kwaji, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Adamawa, Gombe and Taraba states, Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, Police Commissioner Kalafite Adeyemi and the Area Commander were part of the team that visited Wukari and Ibi.
The AIG visited the palace of the Aku-Uka, Dr. Shekarau Angyu, to condole with him on the tragedy.
In Ibi, he assured the people of his readiness to protect lives and property.
Acting Governor of Taraba State Garba Umar condemned the attacks and killings.
He ordered the restriction of movement by the military in the affected areas until “total normalcy” is restored.
Umar, who spoke yesterday through his Chief Press Secretary Kefas Sule, blamed the latest crisis on “activities of youth groups”.
“Preliminary findings on the cause of the recent outburst of violence in the two areas (Wukari and Ibi) indicate that it is the result of negative activities of some youth groups.
“As a corollary to this, all youth groups in Wukari and Ibi have been proscribed, and security agencies should take note of this ban and enforce it,” he said.
Umar said the government would pay the bills of victims of the crisis who would be treated in government facilities.
He said he was making efforts to move relief materials to the affected communities, while calling for “calm and restraint” from residents of Taraba.
The senator representing Southern Taraba district, Emmanuel Bwacha, condoled the relatives of those killed in the violence.
“I am deeply saddened by the development,” he told The Nation.
The senator believed the number of casualties might have been more than what was reported.
He said: “I don’t want to speculate the casualty figure, but based on the information at my disposal, the number of deaths is more than that.”
Bwacha, a lawyer, advised his constituents not to take the law into their hands, in spite of the situation.
“They should take recourse to security agencies and their agents; report suspicious characters to the nearest security station.
“I believe God will expose the sponsors –whoever that is responsible,” he said, adding that “the violence is masterminded and fuelled by the powers that be in Jalingo.”