The Catholic Community in Taraba state was on Tuesday laid to rest the remains of Rev. Fr. David Tanko, a Catholic priest who was killed in Takum last Wednesday.
Tanko was gruesomely gunned down and set ablaze with his white Toyota Corolla car. He burnt beyond recognition. He was 42 years.
He was reportedly in charge of St. Peter’s Catholic Parish in Amadu, a Tiv settlement in Takum local government area of Taraba state.
He had gone to Takum to see his fellow clergymen and was killed on his way back to Amadu, between KasuwanHaske and Tor Tser.
His death came as a result of the raging crisis between Jukun and Tiv in southern Taraba.
The crisis is an offshoot of a lingering feud based on a claim by the Jukun that the Tiv are “settlers,” in Taraba State and have no ownership right to the land they occupy and should leave.
Tanko was buried at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral, Jalingo.
His co-parishioners were all tears.
The Bishop of Catholic Diocese, Jalingo, Most Rev. Charles Hammawa, who presided over the mass for Tanko’s interment, described the deceased as a lover of peace who paid the supreme price with his life in the most inhuman way.
Hammawa said: “We are only strengthened and comforted by our Christian faith of surrendering all things to God and faith in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
“FrTanko was part of the peace efforts initiated by me to help in bringing an end to the crisis between the Tiv and Jukun.
“He was a good man, a good priest, diligent, hard-working, amiable and peaceful.
‘’He had never set out to offend anyone. He was also a prayerful person.
“He is the kind of person Nigeria needs, to be able to come out of the quagmire and mess we are in today.
‘’A person who will serve selflessly without bias, he was.
“I am convinced that Tanko is with God in heaven and interceding for us and for the end of hostilities and unwanted killings in the country.
“May his death end all the ugly and despicable human acts.”
Hammawa charged government at all levels to protect lives and properties in the country.
“Government has the resources, constitutional powers, the institutions and the machinery to stop crises.
“There should be an end to lip service and deceit especially when it concerns security of lives and property,” the bishop said.
Taraba state Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, Isaiah Jirapye said the death of the young priest was a great loss to the church.
It was gathered that Tanko’s death sparked a blame-game between Jukun and Tiv on who really killed the peace broker.
His assassination also caused anxiety in the state and sapped hopes for reconciliation between Tiv and Jukun and raised more fears about the deteriorating security in Taraba state.
His death is also a puzzle to the Taraba State Police commissioner, AlkassamSanusi, who has been given marching orders by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to fish out his killers.
Adamu has directed the DIG in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) to provide “additional forensic and other investigative assets” to the Taraba State Police Command to aid investigations into the incident.
President MuhammaduBuhari called on the government and people of Benue and Taraba States to “exercise restraint and stop escalation of the feud.”
The President directed Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State and Samuel Ortom of Benue, the Tor Tiv and the AkuUka, religious and community leaders in the two closely tied states and top security operatives, put together by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), to meet today, examine and bring to end all issues underlying persistent violent clashes between Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups.”
The meeting of the opinion stakeholders holds at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
Governor Darius Ishaku, host of the meeting, said the meeting will find a lasting solution to the Tiv/Jukun crisis.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State is among the key stakeholders at the meeting, Ishaku said in a statement. “Federal and state legislators, speakers of the state houses of assembly (Benue and Taraba) security chiefs, other prominent sons and daughters and representatives of youth groups of Tiv and Jukun in Taraba State will be in attendant,” Ishaku said.
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