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How Civilian JTF started in Benue

The past administration of Governor Gabriel Suswam established the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the state after incessant killings in rural areas occasioned by herders/farmers clashes which seemed to defy solutions at that time.

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The ex-governor established the now disbanded Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) as a response to the demand put up by the  state chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) on March 29, 2014.

State chairman of ALGON, Kester Kyenge, as at then said there was an urgent need to initiate a civilian joint task force to support local communities to keep peace and stop invaders from harassing rural territories in the country.

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Kyenge had told newsmen in Makurdi that people-based security approach from ward to federal level would help to keep schools open and stop cattle rustlers and their patrons from operation.

“The Civilian JTF must be designed in the context of a joint Fulani-Hausa, Tiv-Idoma ethno-religious summit to enhance dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis and to jointly install a Civilian JTF to implement the peace initiative,” he argued at the time.

To this end, the Suswam–led government inaugurated the CJTF shortly afterwards, especially when on March 11, 2014, he narrowly escaped death in Tse-kenyi village after his convoy was caught up in a crossfire between security operatives and suspected herdsmen.

A total of 30 people were killed that day in several villages with over 200 communities of Guma Local Government Area of the state completely sacked by the attackers.

However, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, had to cry out in August last year while reacting to the killing of Governor Samuel Ortom’s Principal Special Assistant on Knowledge Economy and Investments, Dr Tavershima Adyorough, who was killed on August 20, 2017, describing the security situation in the state as “quite disturbing.” 

Tsav, in an interview with our correspondent at the time, urged the Ortom’s administration to look inwards, alleging that “some of the governor’s aides are men of shady characters, especially members of the State Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) whose leader is said to be once a member of the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The CJTF are not trained in the use of firearms but they bear firearms and can be used by anyone. They are said to often exploit both Fulani herdsmen and Tiv farmers.”

Expectedly, the CJTF, under the leadership of Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku, had operated with support of police as well as other security agencies in the state to curb crimes such that some of them had been killed in the past while an insignificant few who used the opportunity to commit crimes were apprehended and paraded by the police.

For instance, in April, last year, a member of the CJTF in Agatu Local Government Area of the state, alongside four others was held by the police for allegedly rustling cows belonging to Fulani herders while in another circumstances,10 members of the CJTF were gruesomely killed by unknown gunmen in January, last year in Kastina-Ala Local Government Area of the state.

However, the Ortom-led administration disbanded the organisation and established the Livestock Guards in the wake of the implementation of the new grazing law in the state, still under the leadership of Tashaku.

Contacted on the matter, Tashaku, who promised to speak to our correspondent later could not be reached at the time of filing the report.


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