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Ladies and gentlemen of the Press

My attention has been drawn to a campaign of calumny against His Excellency, Arch. Darius Dickson Ishaku, the Executive Governor of Taraba State following the recent attacks on Wukari and the murder of Mr. Yusuf Usman in Donga by suspected Tiv militia. My initial reaction was to ignore such mischievous elements whose stock-in-trade is to undermine the good efforts of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku who has been tirelessly working to maintain peace and enhance development throughout the State.

I am, however, compelled to respond because it is evident there are cowardly characters who lack the confidence to reveal their identities. This campaign is being prosecuted by a desperate group aimed at undermining the legacies of the Governor and his rising political profile.

On Thursday, 2 April, 2020 Mr. Yusuf Usman and his wife from Donga left for farm, unfortunately they were attacked on the way by suspected Tiv militia, resulting to the murder of Yusuf and abduction of his wife who has still not been found. The same Thursday in the evening in Wukari some suspected Tiv militia attacked Wukari from the Old B.B Bread area, which led to the death of a young man and burning of some thatched houses. As a matter of fact, these suspected Tiv militias have turned themselves into terrorist group, and now and then terrorizing the peace loving people of Southern Taraba.

These dastardly attacks did not start today, but have been happening over several decades, which have resulted in loss of many lives, dislocation of people and destruction of properties running into billions of Naira. For example, in 1991 Hon. Kasuwa Agbu, a member representing Wukari I in Taraba State House of Assembly was attacked by suspected Tiv militia while on her way to Akwana, her hometown. Up to today, she has not been seen or her corpse found. The same in 1991, over 100 people were killed and over 200 houses burnt by suspected rampaging Tiv militia in Kente, where 67 others were seriously wounded. In 2001 the same suspected Tiv militia in Chonku also killed over 30 people and 150 were displaced from their homes.

It should be noted that the wave of murderous attacks by the Tiv group seems to have continued unabated till today. I recall the gruesome murder of the 19 Nigerian soldiers who were on a peace mission and were abducted in Va’ase the Taraba-Benue border town in October 2001.

The latest attacks in Donga and Wukari therefore, did not come to us as a surprise as it is in the nature of the Tiv to engage non Tiv or even among themselves in perpetual fight. This has been the history of these Tiv groups generally.

In the case of the Wukari attack by the suspected Tiv militia in the early hours of Tuesday, 7th April, 2020 (the second in two weeks), it was successfully repelled.

It should be further noted that when Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku came to power in 2015, as a leader concerned with protecting the lives of people of the State generally, he immediately swung into action by embarking on peace meetings with his Benue State counterpart and various communities in Southern Taraba, aimed at finding lasting solutions to these crises and to establish sustainable peace in the State.
These efforts include:
i. Taraba and Benue Joint Security Peace meeting held on Friday 3rd February, 2017 at the Kashimbilla Dam Site, Taraba State.
ii. Benue and Taraba States Boundary/Security Peace meeting held on Tuesday 5th September, 2017 at Ugba Youth Centre, Logo Local Government, Benue State.
iii. A Tripartite meeting of officials on Benue and Taraba Interstate Boundary held at Banquet Hall, Benue Peoples’ House, Makurdi, Benue State, 5th October, 2017.
iv. Benue/Taraba Inter-state Boundary Joint Field Technical Report, 12th December, 2017.
v. Joint Security meeting between Benue and Taraba States at Federal University Wukari, Taraba State, Saturday, 29th December, 2018.

Despite these efforts by Governor Ishaku, these characters who do not wish the State well seem happy to see the State in perpetual turmoil. This is why they continue to embark on this campaign of calumny and falsehood against the Governor saying he did not do much to sustain peace in Taraba State.

It is worthy to note that since the resumption of hostilities, a series of unprovoked attacks by the Tiv militia groups were carried out against the people of Southern Taraba, starting from 1st April, 2020. Governor Ishaku never relented in his efforts to bring the crisis situation to the end. Indeed through his efforts the hostilities ceased by September, 2019.

Furthermore, in order to gain the attention he craved, this faceless writer also brought into his campaign the issue of the selection of Gara of Donga, accusing the Governor of not announcing the name of the new Gara Donga. The writer peddling this falsehood claimed that “Governor Darius has destroyed us economically, socially and politically, now he is targeting our culture”. The truth is that Governor Darius Ishaku will never take any measure or action that will create any crisis in any part of the State, including Donga pertaining to a traditional stool or any matter. The oath of office he swore (not as a Jukun Governor, but the Governor of Taraba State) is to promote peace, progress, harmonious co-existence and cultural upliftment of the people of Taraba State as a whole.

In line with his mantra “give me peace and I will give you development”, Governor Ishaku has taken the State higher in development. For instance, this year Taraba State Government has embarked on the construction of Mararaba-Baissa-Abong road, construction of feeder roads covering 1,526 kilometers in 10 Local Government Areas, dualisation of road in the State capital with a fly over, the first of its kind in the North-East region. These developments have been replicated in other sectors such as education, health, security, youths and women empowerment, agriculture and housing, to mention just a few.

It is obvious the writer, blinded by political partisanship and small –mindedness is envious of Governor Ishaku’s achievements in various areas since assuming office in 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If this writer and his group cannot recognize his successes the least they can do is keep quiet and allow the Governor to continue to lead the State to more sustainable peace and development.

Thank you all.

Barrister Danjuma A. Adamu
Commissioner of Information and Re-Orientation.