Over 20 people dead in tribal clash in Taraba between Tiv and Fulani.
Tiv farmers murdered in their sleep.
The Taraba Peace Concert, organised to further the peace among warring communities, may have after all, gone tragic with about 24 people killed on Saturday shortly after the show ended in Jalingo, the state capital.
The show, which according to top government sources gulped some N250million, was co-sponsored by the state government, Dangote, Zenith Bank, MTN and Airtel Nigeria Limited, and held at the 6,000 capacity Jolly Nyame Stadium, Jalingo.
Of the sum, Taraba state government was said to have made available N60 million while other donors shared the balance among themselves.
The event planners are Mary and Prolific Entertainment, a firm jointly owned by Mary, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s daughter, and Simion Oshi, believed to be her ‘boyfriend.’As part of the programme, the organisers were expected to donate substantial relief materials such as food items, to all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the state.
Blueprint gathered that the donated relief materials generated some credibility questions, as “only seventy tubers of yam were procured for one of the camps, five bags of rice and a few crates of soft drinks.”
“In fact, a totally different version of the photo evidence of the items donated was presented to the governor in Government House, Jalingo,” added our sources.
Addressing journalists in Jalingo, Simion told reporters that the concert was designed to consolidate on the peace the state government had achieved under the leadership of Governor Ishaku.
He also said artists were going to be drawn from all over the country to be part of the concert, but was curiously silent on the budget for the event.
But the otherwise peace rally turned gory late Saturday night as 24 people were reportedly killed and scores missing in a renewed violent clash between Tivs and Fulanis in Sabon Gidan village of Dan Anacha town, Gassol local government area of the state.
The skirmish followed the discovery of two corpses of Fulanis killed and dumped in a bush, thus fuelling a reprisal against the Tivs. An eye witness who narrated the incident to our reporter, claimed to have seen over 20 corpses after the clash.
“Without doubt, the number of those people killed in this fracas would not have been less than between 20 and 22. It’s quite shocking seeing the corpses. It was an early morning raid carried out today (Sunday).
“It is just unfortunate that this is happening at a time the state government claims to be consolidating on the peace. The question is for how long shall we continue this way? Now, families have been further displaced and we are fast becoming refugees in our own land. Government really need to act fast to save this ugly situation,” said a survivor who spoke under anonymity.
And prior to this time, a comedian who was billed to perform at the concert, Samuel Awar, died under a “mysterious circumstance” in his hotel room, in a popular hotel on Thursday in Jalingo.Although the cause of his death is yet to be ascertained, Awar, popularly called Big Shark, it was gathered, allegedly received in his Diamond Bank account a sum of N25 million, few days before his demise, fuelling speculation that some sharp practices might have occurred.
But Governor Ishaku , at a pre-concert dinner, confirmed Awar lost his life in the course of the concert.
Similarly, the stadium, according to our correspondent, was virtually empty, with the event planners running round to hire about 300 unemployed youths in Jalingo to give the event some life at a cost of N1,000 per youth.
One of the attendees, Malam Abubarkar Sadiq from Aungwa Gaadi, Jalingo, told our reporter that , “I, just like any other youths, were paid N1,000 each to be part of the occasion and that is why we agreed to jump into the trucks the organisers brought to pick us.”Asked reason for the event failure, Oshi said he was under a directive from “the top” not to have any interface with the media after the event.
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Sylvanus Giwa, confirmed to Blueprint that the state government, in partnership with other sponsors, funded the event. He would not, however, comment on how much was involved. Giwa, also confirmed the governor’s daughter being one of the handlers of the event, and said there was nothing stopping her from doing business in the state, like any other indigene or resident.
Commenting on the clashes and the comedian’s death, spokesman of the Taraba Police Command, David Misal, confirmed the clash, adding that more personnel have been drafted to the area to restore normalcy. He, however, said the police were yet to ascertain the death toll.
On the comedian, Misal told Blueprint that the autopsy was yet to be released by the specialist hospital, even though a hospital source said, the autopsy was ready since last week.
But the SSA confirmed to journalists in his office that the autopsy result has revealed that the comedian died a natural death. Leader of the opposition APC in the state, Alhaji Abdulmumini Vaki, told our reporter on phone that the governor was not running the state constitutionally, warning that the days of reckoning will soon be at hand.