— April 22, 2014
Acting governor of Taraba State, Garba Umar has come under fire for the increased spate of violence that has swept across the state in recent times, leaving countless people dead, injured or displaced.
A group, Southern Taraba Forum For A Just Society, made the accusation in an open letter signed by its coordinator, Manu Benjamin Caleb, stating that the crisis in the Wukari, Takum, Ibi and Donga areas of Taraba are a direct result of the acting governor’s failure to continue with his predecessor, Danbaba Suntai’s roadmap to peace in Taraba.
The group also postulated that the crisis currently engulfing the zone is a scheme to destabilise the zone. The letter reads, “We are miffed and stupefied by the latest onslaught on the peoples of our zone in Wukari, Takum, Donga and Ibi local government areas. Clearly, the ongoing mayhem is a well worked out blueprint to destabilise the zone and institute a reign of terror, especially now that it is clear that the zone is ready to produce the next governor in the 2015 general elections.
“The march for power shift to the zone is on, and some clowns want to scuttle it with these crises to distract the region. It took a recent outrage by Senator Joel Ikenya over his failure to visit those areas before the acting governor quickly breezed into Wukari and Ibi.
The group, without reservations, made the damning accusation that Umar was “responsible for the current skirmishes” and blamed him for undoing the progress made by the Suntai administration.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let us remind all and sundry that Suntai was known for his effective restoration of peace to a once troubled state. Suntai achieved the feat by encouraging harmony amongst the people and by being fair and just with the entire groups irrespective of religious or ethnic affiliations. Suntai was also the grandmaster of swift response to any skirmishes.
“But all these changed with the coming of Garba Umar and his crowd of advisers. Thanks to them, today Taraba has been plunged into crisis in the absence of discernible leadership,” the letter reads.
The letter called on President Goodluck Jonathan to “call Umar to order by directing him to dust up the master-plan of Governor Suntai in providing Taraba State with peace. Afterall, before Umar came, the Hausa, Tiv, Jukun and all the other groups in Southern Taraba had lived together in peace. It is not as if the basis for hostility was not there, but Suntai managed the differences in an effective way.”