Jole Community Development Association in Taraba State has urged the state government to set up a judicial commission of inquiry to determine ownership of fish ponds responsible for crisis between it and Shomo community.
Spokesman of the community, Luka Audu, made the appeal at a news conference in Jalingo on Tuesday.
Audu said this was one of the best approaches to finding a lasting solution to the crisis that had lingered for more than four decades.
The call is coming on the heels of recent clashes between Jole and Shomo communities, all in Lau Local Government Area of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that 25 persons died during the recent clashes, while property worth millions of naira was destroyed.
Audu noted that previous committees set up by the state government did not yield any meaningful result.
He alleged that Shomo continued to contest the ownership of the Marmi lake, which “has been an incontestable property of the Jole all through recorded history”.
The spokesman further alleged that successive governments in the state had “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 involvement of Jole people in the attack.
According to him, Shomo people have made enemies and fought with most of their neighbours in the past.
Audu explained that the attack could have come from any or a combination of the many aggrieved enemies of Shomo community.
He said: “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.
“They forget 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 owner 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 judgments 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.”
NAN recalls that the attack on Shomo-Kila and Shomo-Sarki occurred in early April and was widely condemned by stakeholders.