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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 10:14 GMT
Inquiry ignores Nigeria army role
Map of Nigeria
By Dan Isaacs in Lagos

Amid reports of continuing unrest in the central state of Taraba, the Nigerian Government has announced the formation of a special commission to look into the causes of the conflict.

The fighting between two communities, the Tiv and the Jukun, in the border region between Benue and Taraba states has cost hundreds of lives over the past few months.

The Tiv are considered by the Jukun as recent settlers.

The Tiv dispute this, saying their families have lived there for generations.

But until recently, the federal government had taken little serious interest in resolving deep-rooted tension that fuel the conflict.

Reference terms

It was the death of 19 soldiers last month at the hands of a Tiv militia group that brought the dispute to national attention.

Students at a road block
The latest clashes follow massacres last month in neighbouring Benue

The response by the army was brutal.

In a series of raids over three days, soldiers systematically rounded up unarmed civilians and shot them in towns and market squares in the Tiv homelands of Benue State.

What is notable about the terms of reference of the new commission however is that there is no suggestion that it will investigate the behaviour of the army in dealing with the crisis, as was widely expected.

The task of the panel is limited to considering the long-term causes of the tensions between the two communities and why this has led to open conflict.

From this, the final report is expected to consider strategies for securing lasting peace in the region.

See also:

26 Nov 01 | Africa
Land clash in central Nigeria
24 Oct 01 | Africa
Nigeria: Crisis in Benue state
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