The military operation code-named Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) has brokered peace between the warring Tiv and Jukun people of Taraba and Benue States as part of its non-kinetic action.
The peace meeting which held in Rufinkada village, Wukari Local Government area of Taraba State on Monday had stakeholders drawn from the two ethnic groups such as political leaders, traditional rulers, opinion leaders and youths among others in attendance.
Force Commander of the OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini said the peace meeting was to address the incessant crisis between the Tiv and Jukun in the two states.
“The purpose of the meeting was to work out a peace deal between the two warring parties as our non-kinetic action. There are two dimensions to the crisis which is between Jukun and Tiv in Benue and then between Jukun and Tiv in Taraba.”
Yekini who stressed the need for both ethnic groups to embrace peace, said opportunities were given to leaders of both tribes to speak out their minds with a view to finding a lasting solution to the perennial crisis.
At the end of the deliberations, both ethnic groups agreed to embrace peace and also agreed on the immediate reopening of the Gbeji-Kente-Wukari road which had remained closed since the beginning of the crisis in April.
Also, it was resolved that all illegal roadblocks within the axis should be dismantled while all Tiv and Jukun who had fled their homes during the crises were asked to return home immediately.
Stakeholders at the meeting also agreed that from now henceforth, both Benue and Taraba state governments must begin giving commensurate political appointments to Tiv or Jukun minorities in the respective states.
It was also agreed at the meeting that OPWS would deploy troops along that route so that road users are not attacked along even as a 12-man peace and reconciliation committee made up of six members from each ethnic group was set up to work in collaboration with security agencies.
Yekini, while speaking to newsmen after the meeting said it became necessary to initiate peace deals between the two warring communities because the solution to the crisis lies more with the people.
He recalled that at the end of one of the kinetic operations his troops carried out in the area, six assorted weapons were recovered from youths of both ethnic groups while eight youths were arrested and one was shot dead.
He, however, warned youths in the area who were currently in possession of illegal weapons with the purpose of using same to commit arson to surrender them immediately or be made to face the wrath of the law if caught.