The Jole Community Development Association in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba has urged the state government to set up Judicial Commission of Inquiry to determine the actual ownership of the fish ponds in dispute that has continued to cost the lives of citizens over the years.
The call was coming on the heels the recent clashes between Shomo and Jole communities in Lau Local Government which claimed the lives of at least 25 persons and destroyed property worth millions of naira.
Spokesman of the Jole Manga Community Mr Luka Audu, who made the call at a press conference in Jalingo said that this was one of the best approaches to finding a lasting solution to the feuds that has lingered for more than four decades.
He noted that previous committees set up by various governments in the past failed to yield any meaningful result, thereby allowing the hostilities to continue to fester.
Audu said it was unfortunate that the Shomo people had continued to contest the ownership of the Marmi lake which has been an “incontestable property of the Jole people all through recorded history and the successive governments in the state have not shown enough political will to put the records straight and put an end to the crisis.
He described the recent attack on the Shomo communities as unfortunate but denied the alleged involvement of the Jole people in the attacks.
While they alleged that the Shomo people have made enemies and fought with most of their neighbors in the past, Audu explained that the attack could have come from any or a combination of many aggrieved sources.
“It has become necessary for us as a people to address the public and set the records straight.
“While we regret the recent unfortunate attack on the Shomo people, we find it appalling that everyone is accusing the Jole people of carrying out the attack, forgetting that we have been displaced for several years now with all our villages completely destroyed by Militia suspected to be from the Shomo ethnic group.
“Is it in this sorry state that we orchestrated such an attack?
“We call on the state government to set up a judicial panel of inquiry to ascertain the true ownership of the Marmi lake that has been the cause of these hostilities and whoever is found to be the true owners should be handed over their rights.
“That is the only way to resolve this crisis. Justice has to be served objectively.
“We have a lot of court judgements in our favour, restraining the Shomo people from the lake but they have total disregard for the courts and continue to attack us and invade our lake and farmlands”.
The recent attack on Shomo-Kila and Shomo-Sarki in early April 2020 led to the death of several persons and massive destruction to property, attracting widespread condemnation including from the Presidency.
Reacting to the incident, President Buhari said: “I am deeply disturbed by the resort to violence over disagreements that could be resolved through dialogue.”
According to the President, “these frequent incidents of ethnic and communal violence is a failure of community leadership and the refusal to embrace dialogue as a means of conflict resolution.”
He explained that disagreements over lands or fishing ponds shouldn’t be allowed to degenerate into violence and destruction of lives and property.
The President said that “violence has never settled any problem and, on the contrary, it makes a bad situation worse and lay the seeds of future conflicts.”
“If everyone says they must get what they want through violence, then we make it impossible to allow peace to prevail, thereby jeopardizing every prospects of amicable resolution of disagreements,” the President pointed out.
While sympathising with the victims and their families, President Buhari appealed to leaders at all levels in Taraba State to seize the initiative in order to forestall outbreaks of deadly violence by thugs.
He said, “life is so precious that leaders in the area should take urgent and decisive actions go halt this disgraceful slaughter of people.”
According to President Buhari, “there is the need for community leaders in the State to be more proactive in order to nip threats of violence in the bud.”