Conflicts and Conflict Management between the Tiv and their Neighbours in the Benue Valley Region of Central Nigeria, 1900-2001

ABSTRACT

A lot of conflicts have characterized Tiv relations with their neighbours in the Benue valley region since post-colonial Nigeria. This has provoked contributions from various scholars attempting to account for the incessant Tiv conflicts with their neighbours and the way forward. In so doing, some have pointed to the nature of the Tiv as belligerent people, while others have identified the series of states creation that followed post-colonial Nigerian leadership. In most instances, the postulations are generally anchored on wrong and misleading premises. Consequently, this aspect of history needs further investigation, hence the present work. This study has adopted a qualitative research method. It is presented in a thematic, chronological descriptive and analytical way. Primary and secondary sources were obtained to cross-check existing information for their historical authenticity. Oral information obtained from interviews with various people and groups covering this subject constitute part of the primary sources of this work. Furthermore, archival materials, government documents, gazettes, reports, newspapers, magazines and articles also constituted an important part of the primary sources of this work. In this respect, National Archives Kaduna (NAK), Arewa House, Kaduna and the National Archives Ibadan (N.A.I) were visited. The secondary sources for this work were books, journals, articles and pamphlets. British colonialism and administration founded and promoted inter-group conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours. During the period of British military conquest of Nigeria the Tiv had strongly resisted British colonial conquest of their area. This Tiv persistent resistance accounted for why they were the last of the Nigerian groups to be brought under colonial administration in about 1914. The colonial administration was not happy with this Tiv conduct. Consequently, the administration created stereotypes of the Tiv based on their bias against the people. Furthermore, the administration instigated intergroup tension during the colonial period. Following Nigerian independence of 1960, a postcolonial Nigerian leadership emerged. But instead of the leadership correcting the ills created by the erstwhile colonial administration regarding this issue rather emphasized the issues, thereby culminating in the post-colonial incessant violent conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley as shown in this work. In conclusion the work calls for certain fundamental changes with a view to enhancing a cordial intergroup relation.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The Benue valley region falls within the Central Nigerian area and generally speaking coincides with the “Middle Belt”. The history of this region before the 19th century is gleaned mostly from oral sources that are continually assessed and have been accepted as central to the understanding of the people’s history. Most of the oral sources suggest that from the 19th century to the advent of British colonialism, this region was inhabited by a multiplicity of ethnic groups. These groups included, among others, the Tiv, Jukun speaking groups, Chamba, Idoma, Mumuye, Alago, Shiki (Kollo or Mighili) Mada, Aho, Kambari, Beriberi (Kanuri) Hausa, and Bassa.

Apart from being culturally heterogeneous, these groups lacked common political, religious, cultural and administrative homogeneity. They were in the main, groups of independently juxtaposed and interlaced nationalities inhabiting a common region. Moreover, traditional boundaries among the people were generally fluid. Dr. Baikie and S.A. Crowther, leaders of the second Niger expedition of 1854, encountered this situation and when they demanded to know the Jukun-Tiv boundary; their informant interestingly inserted his right and left fingers between each other indicating that “They were thus mixed together as one people”. [1] Similarly, C.L. Temple’s attempt at ascertaining the population of the Jukun people was frustrated as, ‘It is difficult to form an estimate of the numbers of Jukun now left, for they are intermixed with the Munshi…’’[2]

The same situation struck one of the British colonial administrators as he wrote in 1907:

Wukari practically only consists of the walled town of that name, with its 2,500 inhabitants, a few outlying villages, Arufu with its galena mines, Akwana, all leading a precarious existence among their Munshi neighbours. All the: villages on the left bank of the Benue, and one or two on the right, between Ibi band the boundary of Bassa province, are Jukun, but much mixed with Munshi, to whom they are in the position of serfs. [3]

The cosmopolitan nature of some towns like Katsina-Ala and Abinsi in Benue State and Wukari in Taraba State are but living testament of the fluidity of the pre-colonial boundary between the Tiv and the Jukun which reference has been made above. There is evidence showing effective presence of the Tiv in areas such as Keana, Doma, Awe, among others, as far back as the 18th century.[4] Similarly, the Tiv were well established as far as Bantaji and Donga further to the east of the town of Wukari in pre-colonial period.[5] It is also worthy of note that in the same vein, pockets of Jukun now inhabit Abinsi and the Kasimbila areas which are in the heart of Tivland

However, during the European imperial activities of the 19th century, culminating in the

British imposition of colonial administration in Nigeria in the 20th century, the Benue valley witnessed some remarkable changes. For instance, the British colonial administration introduced alien administrative system to govern the various peoples of this region. In line with the new colonial administrative demand, strictly defined geo-political boundaries became necessary. Hence, arbitrary boundaries were drawn irrespective of the peoples’ descent, interests and traditional boundaries. Indeed sometimes these boundaries were created in order to arouse ethnic consciousness and promote one group over the other.[6] Such practices no doubt, created conflicts among groups within the area during the period.

Conflicts being an inevitable phenomenon in human existence occasionally erupted between the Tiv and their neighbours in the course of their settlement and expansion in the Benue Valley in pre-colonial period. Notwithstanding, the Tiv and their neighbours were able to manage these conflicts and the cultural boundaries were not strictly defined during the period.

It was the incongruous nature of the pre-colonial boundaries existing between the Tiv and other groups; or the lack of a single unified defined pre-colonial boundary encapsulating the entire Tiv group that the early British colonial administrators found it difficult to include all the Tiv in a single colonial geo-political entity of the provincial arrangement. The colonialists were, however, conscious of this. This is because the memorandum of 3rd October, 1907 to the Colonial Office, by the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria Protectorate, Sir Percy Girouard succinctly explains this. He wrote:

The Munshi [7] tribes are at present divided amongst three of the Northern Nigerian Provinces; Bassa, Nasarawa and Muri and are also spread over a considerable area of Southern Nigeria contiguous with the Province of Muri.[8]

Although the Tiv people have a pre-colonial history of occupation of those areas which are presently included in the states of Taraba and Nasarawa, the nature of the people’s (Tiv) settlement pattern and traditional political system, among other things, contributed to the socio-political relegation of the Tiv to the background in some of these areas which was a product of British colonial administration. Moreover, the colonial administration created such problems as indigene/settler phenomenon. The problems created by the colonial administration have continued to remain a source of intermittent conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in post-colonial Nigeria.

For instance, with the granting of independence to Nigeria in October 1960 the ethnic consciousness created and promoted by the British colonial administration assumed a much more dangerous dimension, especially with the creation of states. As states were being created under the era of indigenous administration in Nigeria, certain dangerous interpretations were given for such creations. With this development some groups within the Benue Valley region felt that the Tiv belonged or should belong to the state (in this case, Benue) where the people (Tiv) were or are largely found.

Hence, following the General Yakubu Gowon’s state creation in 1967, it was felt that the

Tiv people were all included in Benue Plateau State. When Benue Plateau was split into two states of Benue and Plateau by the then Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed in that year, the same feeling was maintained. Meanwhile, that state creation accounted for the ceding of a chunk of area, Wukari Division, hitherto part of Benue Plateau State, and greatly inhabited by the Tiv people to Gongola State. Still as a result of another state creation exercise by the military President, Ibrahim Babangida in 1991, this part of Gongola State Wukari Division was carved out to constitute part of the present state of Taraba. With these state creations other groups in Gongola State and later Taraba State felt that all the Tiv people were put under Benue State and, or were not to be found elsewhere. Providentially however, the Tiv people have lived in these areas for over several hundreds of years.

The above scenario represents just the Eastern fringes bordering the present state of Benue. However, the situation on the Northern fringe of the state (Benue) accords with the Eastern one discussed above. For instance, following the splitting of the State of Benue Plateau into two States of Benue and Plateau, the non-Tiv groups that were now left in Plateau State felt that Benue State represented a Tiv state, while Plateau State was rid of the Tiv elements. It was the same sentiment that heralded the creation of Nassarawa State from Plateau State by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha in 1996.

Consequently, the various groups within the Benue valley sharing the same states with the Tiv group outside Benue State have conceived the notion that the Tiv people have become stranger elements within their respective states. This confusion or misconception arising from state creations regarding the groups in the states to the Eastern fringe of Benue State has been succinctly captured by Hamid Bobboyi:

The creation of Benue and Gongola States and later Taraba State and the inclusion of Wukari Division in Gongola and subsequently Taraba promoted the idea of a “home state”.Taraba for the Jukun and Benue for the Tiv – which had serious implications, psychological and otherwise, for Tiv-Jukun relations. Earlier, the original/state government was a distant partner, now it is much closer to home and could be called upon to champion the cause of the home group…[9]

Statement of the Problem

Conflicts occur generally in every social interaction between individuals and groups in a given society. But violent conflicts are products of specific circumstances that individuals or groups find themselves in their struggle for survival and continuity. The conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours are the violent type, which constitutes the focus of this study and whose roots may be traced to the British colonial administration but whose impact is being felt even in present-day Nigeria. The causes and management of these conflicts, which are clearly defined in subsequent sections of this study, constitute the problem of the study. During the period of British colonization and administration of the peoples of this area, a lot of false notions were created regarding the cultural groups of the Benue Valley Region by the colonial officials. With respect to the Tiv cultural group, for example, the British colonial perception may be summed up in William Balfour Baike’s description that, “The Tiv are an unfortunate tribe being against everyone and everyone being against it”.[10] This, according to him, “…has rendered it extremely suspicious of visitors, their rude mind not being able to comprehend anything beyond war and rapine”.[11] Thus, based on this false impression created of the Tiv, the Royal Niger Company, an agent of British imperialism, and later, the colonial administration, approached and treated the people with bias. These feelings and assertions led to many outbreaks of conflicts between the colonialists and the Tiv which could have been avoided. For instance, it is on record that the Royal Niger Company’s contempt for the Tiv led to false suspicion by the company that its lost gun powder was stolen by the Tiv at Agasha. This had culminated in a conflict leading to the death of Mr. Hoyland, a staff of the company.[12] This particular incident was only one of the many that marred the Anglo-Tiv relations in their early contacts. With respect to the Jukun group the British colonial authority held incredible misconceptions such as:

The Jukun has been a ruling race for centuries and have a history of at least 700 years. Bygone Jukun kings have wielded as much power as any Fulani ruler. The instinct of rule probably cannot have died out of the blood of the ruling caste but is merely lying dormant to be brought to life and vigour again under our guidance.[13]

Furthermore, the colonial administration was of the conviction that “…the Jukun…as Hamites or half Hamites, they were naturally rulers and that they must be allowed to govern something”.[14]

 

Conceptual Clarifications

Conflict

Conflict is perceived as an intrinsic and inevitable part of human existence. However, violent conflict is not inevitable and as such is an anomaly. Conflict is defined as the pursuit of incompatible interests and goals by different groups. Armed conflict is the resort to the use of force and armed violence in the pursuit of incompatible and particular interests and goals. The worst forms of armed conflict include mass murder and genocide against unarmed civilians.[15]

To Isard and Weeks, conflict is a phenomenon that is an important part of human existence and a natural part of our daily lives.[16] Contributing on this subject Ademola submits:

Conflicts that take place within a society may be the result of several factors. For this reason, in the works of classical social theorists from Marx and Comte to Simmel and Sorel, explanations for social conflict, whether on a small or large scale, whether resulting from interactions between social groups or caused by external factors have been an issue of common concern. In the same way that that it is difficult to point to a single factor as being responsible for order within society, it is as difficult to point to a single explanation for the emergence, escalation, or protraction of conflict whether violent or otherwise.[17]

Several theories of conflicts have been put forward by conflict experts and social scientists to explain the causes and effects of conflicts in the society. However, for the purpose of this study, we shall be considering only a few which relate directly to our present focus. There is the structural conflict theory which has two main strands. One is the radical structural theory represented by the Marxist dialectical school with exponents like Karl Max and Fredrick Engels, V.I Lenin, among others.[18]

The other is the liberal structuralism represented by scholars like M.Ross, and J.Galtung. [19] The main argument of the structural conflict theory is that conflict is built into the particular ways societies are structured and organised. The theory views societal problems like political and economic exclusion, injustice, poverty, disease, exploitation, inequality, among other things, as accounting for conflict. Structuralists maintain that conflicts occur because of the exploitative and unjust nature of human societies, domination of one class by another, among others. They blame capitalism for being an exploitative system, based on its relations of production and the division of society into the proletariat and bourgeoisie. The exploitation of the proletariat and lower classes under capitalism creates conflict. Hence, capitalist societies are accused of being exploitative, and such exploitation is a cause of conflict. To the Marxist school of the structuralist, this capitalist conflict will be resolved through a revolution where the bourgeoisie will be overthrown by workers, bringing about the establishment of a socialist state led by the working people. Theories like Marxism, in its thesis on historical materialism, presenting conflicts as mostly tied to economic and social institutions may be defective as shown by P.Collier. [20] However, its view that sees incompatible interests based on competition for resources, which in most cases are assumed to be scarce, as being responsible for social conflicts remain valid to the present work.

Realist theory also known as realism emphasises inherency and traces the origin of conflict to a defect in human nature which is found in selfishness and engaging in the pursuit of personalized self-interest defined as power. Therefore, the starting point for the explanation of conflict is the individual level. This school believes that “competitive processes” between actors, primarily defined as states, is the natural expression of conflict by parties engaged in the pursuit of scarce and competitive interest. [21] The realist theory has three components- descriptive realism, explanatory realism and prescriptive realism. The first sees the world as an arena of conflict, the second attempts to show that there are genetic defects that push human beings into behaving negatively and that wars become inevitable because there is no mechanism to stop them from occurring; [22] and the third building on the arguments of the first maintains that decision makers (individuals, groups or nations) have a moral justification to defend their basic interests and ensure self-preservation using any means necessary.

In furtherance of this theory, H.Morgenthau, [23] one of the leading exponents of realism argued that realism was a departure from idealism, a theory which he criticised for believing in a moral and rational political order based on universally valid abstract principles. Therefore in contrast from the idealist, the theory presented by Morgenthau, and the structural realists after him like Walt, argued that the imperfection in the world, namely conflict, has its roots in forces that are inherent in human nature; that human nature is selfish, individualistic and naturally conflictive; that states will always pursue their national interests defined as power, and that such interest will come into conflict with those of others leading to the inevitability of conflict. Hence, advising that actors should rather prepare to deal with the outcome and consequences of conflict since it was inevitable, instead of the wish there were none. This theory has been greatly accused of justifying the militarisation of international relations, the arm race, elevating power and states to the status of an ideology. This theory though, has had tremendous impact on conflict at the international level has no direct bearing on this study.

The frustration- Aggression theory was initially developed by John Dollard and his research associates in 1939 and has been expanded and modified by scholars like L.Berkowitz [24] and A.Yates. [25] This theory appears to be the most common explanation for violent behaviour arising from inability to fulfil needs and those theories of motivation and behaviour as well as frustration and aggression. [26] In attempting to explain aggression, scholars point to the difference between what people feel they want or deserve to what they actually get- the “want-get-ratio” [27] and difference between “expected need satisfaction” [28] and “actual need satisfaction”. Where expectation does not meet attainment, the tendency is for people to confront those they hold responsible for frustration their ambitions. This is the central argument that T.Gurr’s relative deprivation thesis addressed in saying that “the greater the discrepancy, however marginal, between what is sought and what seen attainable, the greater will be chances that anger and violence will result”. [29] This theory is useful in explaining Tiv violent reaction against Northern Nigerian administrative policies against them (Tiv) in post-colonial period leading partly strained relations between them (Tiv) and their neighbours in the Benue Valley Region, part of which has been captured by Anifowose. [30]

The main explanation that the frustration-aggression theory provides is that aggression is not just undertaken as a natural reaction or instinct as realists and biological theorists assume, but that it is the outcome of frustration and that in a situation where the legitimate desires of an individual is denied either directly or by the indirect consequence of the way the society is structured, the feeling of disappointment may lead such a person to express his anger through violence that will be directed at those he holds responsible or people who are directly or indirectly related to them.

The systemic theories provide a socio-structural explanation for emergence of violent social conflicts. The position of this theory is that reason(s) for any social conflict lie(s) in the social context within which it or they occur(s). As J.Chalmers noted in the case of political violence, “any analytical penetration of the behaviour characterized as ‘purposive political violence’ must utilize as its tool a conception of the social context in which it occur(s)”. [31] This paradigm turns focus to social factors and the effects of large-scale (usually sudden) changes in social, political and economic processes that would usually guide against instability. Systemic factors that lead to changes peoples’ material comfort include environmental degradation that reduces access to sources of livelihood, uncontrolled population growth especially in urban centres, resource scarcity and its allocation through lopsided political processes and competition, the negative effects of colonial legacies, breakdown of cherished values and traditions that play crucial social control functions, widespread poverty in the midst of plenty, the domination and marginalization of minority groups by those in the majority, and ethnicity. These are all examples of systemic causes of conflict.

Most of what is contained here plays a key role in the conflicts that have occurred between the Tiv and their neighbours. For instance, under colonial and post-colonial Northern Nigeria geo-political entity the Tiv people who had constituted a minority against the Hausa/Fulani group felt dominated and marginalized by the Hausa/Fulani majority group and the Tiv group reacted. Following the abrogation of provincial system leading to the creation of states in Nigeria since 1967, the Tiv group emerged as a dominant group in the Benue valley region and the other ethnic groups in this region have since felt marginalized by the Tiv in this region thereby leading to conflicts in the area.

Relational theory tries to provide explanations for violent conflicts between groups by exploring sociological, political, economic and historical relations between such groups. Hence, the belief here is that cultural and value differences as well as group interests all influence relationships between individuals and groups in different ways. At the sociological level, differences between cultural values is a challenge to individual or group identity formation processes and create the tendency to see others as intruders who have to be prevented from encroaching upon established cultural boundaries.

Political economy for example, identifies power and the advantages that it confers as a key source of tension between different interest groups within a political system. In situations where multiple groups share a common resource that is fixed in nature, the chances that each will attempt to eliminate, neutralize or injure the ‘other’ or monopolise such a resource is as high as the tendency to enter into a negative relationship. [32]

A number of conflicts grow out of a past history of conflict between groups that has led to the development of stereotypes, racial intolerance and discrimination. Such a history of negative exchanges between groups may make it difficult for efforts to integrate different ethnic and religious groups within the society to succeed because their past interactions make it difficult for them to trust one another.

The fact that ‘others’ are perceived as different make us feel they are entitled to less or are inferior by reason of cultural values or skin colour. This disrupts the flow of communication between us and them and to that extent, twists perceptions that we have about each other. In the same way, the knowledge that two or more groups have to compete for the same resources (whatever it may be) creates conditions that increase the chances that interactions between them will provide conflict over how to share such a resource.

On the whole, for the purpose of this work, conflict may be defined as an attitude, a behaviour or an action or a process that introduces strains and stress in the relationship between two or more parties on, say, the attainment of a set of interests or goals. In conflict, parties perceive or treat each other as a stumbling block that will result in frustrating the other in attaining a set of goals or even furthering one’s interests. Contrasting images of each party’s intentions, inactions or actions may also create a situation of conflict. [33]

Many serious communal conflicts are rooted in the value differences and the repression of the need for autonomy and identity. The pursuit of incompatible goals can intensify the struggle between opposing forces especially in the absence of collaborative problem-solving mechanisms. Antagonist feelings and frustration deepen adversarial enemy image, making negotiated solutions to the problems difficult. [34] In conflict situations, resources are mobilized to force the other party to change behaviour according to one’s own wishes.

Conflicts are of different types such as Intra-personal conflict, inter- personal conflict, man against society/ man against nature, family conflict, inter-group conflict, intra-state conflict inter- state conflict and global conflict.

Intra-personal conflict refers to an individual state of implosion shaped by his state of mind. It is important to know that such human condition is largely influenced by circumstances surrounding him. Situations such as confusion, depression, anger and frustration which could lead to aggression erratic behavior, addiction and in extreme cases, suicide have been submitted by Ross as accounting for intra personal conflict in an individual. [35] This is the kind of conflict that has been described as “man against self” by Lamb, in which man continues to contend or battle with his mind and habits. For instance, smoking, drug use, alcoholism as well as lying are some addictive habits that man may continually contend with, even when he desires to stop, he may find himself continuing it. This is intra-personal conflict or “man against self”. [36]

Inter- personal conflict according to Nikolajeva is “man against man” in the micro sense. [37] This type of conflict may be direct opposition, as in exchange for blows, a gunfight or a robbery, or it may be a more subtle conflict between the desires of two or more persons. The act of sporting like wrestling match is a kind of game, but the act on the mat depicts conflict. Conflict is this sense is a fight between people. Conflict does not always translate to physical exchange of blows. Conflict thus also means implicit hostility. It may not be obvious to the third party, but the opposing or unfriendly parties already understand that there is a state of discontent between them.

Morell has identified another type of conflict which is that of man against society/ man against nature. [38] According to him this type of conflict arises when man stands against manmade institution or practices. These may include slavery, human trafficking, child prostitution, human rights abuses, bullying, corruption, bad governance, et cetera.

Family conflict occurs in a family unit. Sociologists would describe this as intra-unit conflict. [39] Mostly; such conflicts arise from crisis occasioned by family roles, among others. There is also a type of conflict known as inter-group conflict. This refers to the kind of disagreement that occurs between two or more sectarian or religion groups, ethnic groups, communities, or interest groups. The contention between Christians and Moslems in Nigeria is an example of inter-faith conflict. This study which is ethnic conflict involving the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley Region of Central Nigeria is also a typical example of intergroup type of conflict.

Furthermore, there are other types of conflicts such as Inter-group conflict implying conflict within a given state; interstate conflict implying conflict involving two states and global conflict implying a conflict of global/status like the world wars of the 20th century. The ideological type of conflict has also been identified. V.I. Renin has done a lot on this type of conflict. [40]

Conflict Administration/Management

There are different approaches to conflict administration or management. We shall be considering three main ones here, namely, conflict resolution, conflict transformation and conflict management. There is disagreement among scholars on how conflict can be handled. However, critical examination shows that the fundamental differences appear to be more in the terminological application rather than in any real underlying principle inherent in the composition of the theories. In fact, all are aimed at achieving one end – conflict minimization or reduction. Conflict resolution according to Peter Wallenstein [41] implies that a disagreement existed between groups and that such disagreement is later settled to the extent of being accepted by the disagreeing parities. This settlement in turn is considered as central to the restoration of cordial relationship between the groups. The assertion also implies that hostilities are completely eroded against each other. In Wallenstein’s words,

… a situation where the conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities, accept each other’s continued existence as parties and cease all violent actions against each other [42]

By this method the basic understanding is that conflict is settled and completely eliminated or resolved. There are however criticisms of this approach. The approach assumes that conflict is a bad thing, and as such not needed. It also implies that by such resolution the conflict is completely eliminated. These critics, however, direct their arguments on the fact that, conflict is an unavoidable part of human existence and therefore cannot be completely eliminated.

Conflict transformation involves the changing of the relationships, interests, discourses and sometimes the very constitution of society that encourages the continuation of conflict or developing constructive dialogue, culture and practice of tolerance, flexibility in negotiations, trading and re-balancing of interest in order to change the nature and intensity of conflict. This theory of conflict handling envisages such far-reaching peaceful approach, using methods as problem-solving workshops. It is believed that beneficiaries of the respective parties from the workshops would be used for transmitting positive messages or impact from such activities thereby ensuring the goal of conflict transformation which is a long term approach as against that of conflict resolution’s immediate goal. However, Miall’s conviction is that: “Constructive conflict is seen as a vital agent or catalyst for change.” [43] This seems to suggest that the use of revolutionary armed method can be necessary as far as the actualization of the goal of conflict transformation remains the fundamental objective.

Conflict transformation contains some positive aspects but since we have not yet witnessed or envisaged any such fundamental or structural change in the very constitution and reconstitution of societies in the foreseeable future within our area of study, we have considered how conflicts can be managed within the existing arrangement or framework, no matter how faulty such societal constitution might have been, a much more realistic or tenable situation. Notwithstanding, we have endeavoured to point out areas of faulty constitution, physically and perceptional implying that were it to be possible, such reconstitution would have been most desirable in order to reduce conflict.

Because it is not humanly possible to eliminate conflict, what is expected therefore is to try to limit the bound or to contain conflicts within the barest minimum. According to one of the proponents of this view, “The problem, then, is not to count the frustration of seeking to remove an inevitability but rather, trying to keep conflicts in bounds.’’[44] Since conflict cannot be eliminated from the society the only possible available option appears to be the control of conflict from escalating into violent and disastrous explosion – that is the management of conflict. Conflict management therefore refers to the making of ‘‘… efforts towards preventing the escalation of and negative effects, especially violent ones, of on-going conflicts.’’ [45]

Conflict management in a state, therefore, is or should be a continuous process. Similarly, depending on the parties to the conflicts, conflict management also varies. It is the realization of the inevitability of conflicts in human society and the recognition of the fact that conflicts would rather have to be managed that states, empires, societies, groups from the earliest time to date have attempted to fashion their respective ways of managing their conflicts. In the contemporary situation, we can at a global level point at The League of Nations after the First World War and the United Nations Organisation after the Second World War were attempts by the community of the World to manage international conflicts.

Considering the fact that we as individuals have different points of view, there will  always be instances when misunderstandings will occur among us. [46] With the arising of these intractable conflicts comes the need for conflict management. Even in seemingly ordinary situations, conflict may be rooted by other non-apparent reasons. Understanding the other sides of the issue would allow those involved to come up with an ideal resolution to the problem. In dealing with conflict, there are conflict management styles to be followed. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which is an assessment used globally in conflict handling, specifies five strategies used to address conflict. They are as follows:

Accommodating

Accommodation involves having to deal with the problem with an element of self-sacrifice; an individual sets aside his own concerns to maintain peace in the situation. Thus, the person yields to what the other wants, displaying a form of selflessness. It might come as an immediate solution to the issue; however it also brings about a false manner of dealing with the problem. This can be disruptive if there is a need to come up with a more sound and creative way out of the problem. This behavior will be most efficient if the individual is in the wrong as it can come as a form of conciliation.

Avoiding

In this approach, there is withdrawal from the conflict. The problem is being dealt with through a passive attitude. Avoiding is mostly used when the perceived negative end outweighs the positive outcome. In employing this, individuals end up ignoring the problem, thinking that the conflict will resolve itself. It might be applicable in certain situations but not in all. Avoidance would mean that you neglect the responsibility that comes with it. The other individuals involved might think that you are neglecting the problem. Thus, it is better to confront the problem before it gets worse.

Collaborating

Collaborating aims to find a solution to the conflict through cooperating with other parties involved. Hence, communication is an important part of this strategy. In this mechanism, effort is exerted in digging into the issue to identify the needs of the individuals concerned without removing their respective interests from the picture. Collaborating individuals aim to come up with a successful resolution creatively, without compromising their own satisfactions.

Competing

Competition involves authoritative and assertive behaviours. In this style, the aggressive individual aims to instil pressure on the other parties to achieve a goal. It includes the use of whatever means to attain what the individual thinks is right. It may be appropriate in some situations but it shouldn’t come to a point wherein the aggressor becomes too unreasonable. Dealing with the conflict with an open mind is vital for a resolution to be met.

Compromising

Compromising is about coming up with a resolution that would be acceptable to the parties involved. Thus, one party is willing to sacrifice their own sets of goals as long as the others will do the same. Hence it can be viewed as a mutual give-and-take scenario where the parties submit the same amount of investment for the problem to be solved. A disadvantage of this strategy is the fact that since these parties find an easy way around the problem, the possibility of coming up with more creative ways for a solution would be neglected.

In Nigeria, government as the substantial manager of conflict employs conflict management mechanisms to accomplish this task. However, such mechanisms, as will be seen later are usually often weak and thus ineffective. For instance, the government feels that the use of force is an effective way of conflict management. Hence, when conflicts occur, the government usually sends its agents to forcefully ensure peace. However, the use of force is not the only way of dealing with conflict. There is a social limit for the use of force. Force only enforces temporary order, but this does not really tackle the source of conflicts. One of the effective ways of preventing and managing conflicts is to invest in sources on getting to the root causes of problems. Though this may be difficult however, treating symptoms may cost the system more, hence, the registration of numerous incessant cases of conflicts in Nigeria generally, and the Benue valley in particular. Thus there is need for managing conflicts by reaching compromises and transforming these compromises into permanent workable strategies that could be re-assessed and re-defined, from time to time as the need may be, since conflict elimination is humanly impossible.

Citizenship and Indigenship

In the course of this study, the two concepts of citizenship and indigenship seem to call for more definitive and historicizing attention because apart from the fact that they deal directly with some of basic factors responsible for the conflicts under study, indigenship in particular seems to be perceived differently by the different groups in conflicts. The problem of different perception of indigenship was compounded by both British colonialism and the failure of the Nigerian constitution to provide a definitional framework in the manner it has defined citizenship. For instance, it has been pointed out by many scholars that while the 1999 constitution and indeed all other constitutions since independence, clearly defines who qualifies to be a citizen of Nigeria, it is however silent on who is an indigene of a particular area and who is not, even though the same constitution has made copious references to the concept of ‘indigenship’ such as in section 147(2) and (3) which provides for the appointment of at least one Minister from each state, who should be an ‘indigene’ of that state. [47] This scenario has given rise to the indigene/settler question in Nigeria. In this study, attempt is made to conceptualise and historicize ‘indigenship’ based on the experience acquired in the course of this research. As will be shown in the study, before the advent of British colonialism the population of the cultural groups of the Benue Valley Region was fluid. However, the colonial administration decided to erect rigidly defined boundaries and the so-called ring fence policy between the Tiv and Jukun which was aimed at separating the two groups that were hitherto living together and thus created a sense of animosity between them as they now found themselves on the opposite sides of the fence. This situation metamorphosed into the indigene/settler phenomenon after the departure of colonialism and became one of the causes of the Tiv-Jukun conflicts under examination.

The Nasarawa indigene/settler syndrome became an issue when groups such as the Alago, Mighili and the Beri-Beri, among others, in the state feeling that some groups like the Tiv came and met them arrogated themselves the status of indigenship and consequently view the later comers non- indigenes or settlers. This perception may not be correct because early coming or late coming to a place cannot be sufficiently used as a yardstick for measuring indigenship. The case of conquest which other people may have advanced in justifying their indigenship of an area stands this argument on its head since the conquering group may be a later group in an area. Meaning therefore that whether we are using early coming or conquest the issue of indigenship or non-indigenship needs more qualifying variable to establish.

Objectives of Study

The Tiv people have involved in violent conflicts with their neighbours in post-colonial Nigeria. This has generated a lot of ideas in other to unravel the possible cause of such intermittent conflicts. In doing this, many scholars have easily pointed to very recent phenomena like the recent post-colonial states creation and stereotype image of the Tiv created mainly by the colonial administration as the basic and indeed remote causes of conflicts. The objective of this work is to attempt a correction of such notion.

Thus our research findings and presentations thereby hope to correct such stereotypes arising from earlier works which have continued to harbour such views thereby further promoting biased sense of judgment in the issues relating to Tiv conflicts with their neighbours. This work intend to reveal the role of British colonial administration in creating and nurturing the conflict issues that have exploded in the post-colonial period which other people may not be aware of. This work has also made frantic efforts to unravel the role of the Hausa-Fulani group in the conflict involving the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley.

The analysis of the socio-political relations of the Tiv and their neighbours in the work has also shown that the Tiv had co-existed with their neighbours without serious conflicts prior to British colonialism. Thus the work also aimed at highlighting the peaceful co-existence between the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley prior to British colonialism. This will also erode the notion created by earlier writers on the Tiv as being purely warlike with a view to enhancing a peaceful co-existence between the Tiv and their neighbours.

Significance of the Study

This work will stimulate further study on the issues that have been discussed. Generally, most issues contained in the study have not usually given unbiased consideration. Hence, much of Tiv history has been marred by stereotypes arising from colonial distortion of the history of the group. Some of the wrong notions derived from biased sources make it difficult for people to understand the socio-political and economic structures of the group and the underlying factors generating conflicts between the Tiv and other groups. Such stereotypes have since the colonial period, negatively impacted on the Tiv relations with other groups in the region, sometimes culminating in adverse repercussions. Therefore, this work, it is hoped, would no doubt, enhance a balanced view and bring about an attitudinal change that will make for a peaceful co-existence among the peoples of our region of study.

Furthermore, the results of the study may help, not just historians, but political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists as well as other people in allied disciplines. More importantly, perhaps, government policy formulators may also benefit from some of the insights that the study may offer. In this way the study may aid government policies towards the Tiv people and their neighbours in the Benue Valley region.

Sources and Methodology

The work draws from primary and secondary sources. Oral interviews among the different groups inhabiting the region were conducted. These groups include the Tiv, the Jukun, Alago, the Hausa the, the Kanuri, amongst others. The nature of our oral interviews is categorized into two, namely, group and individual interviews. The respondents were knowledgeable about intergroup conflicts in the region.

Archival materials have also been a major source of contribution to the research employed for the purpose of this work. Hence, colonial files covering a wide range of subjects such as intelligence reports, annual reports, assessment reports, re-organization reports, anthropological reports on the people of the region have been examined in the National archives, Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu as well as at the Ahmadu Bello University’s Centre for Historical Documentation and Research (Arewa House) Kaduna. These colonial files are grossly limited in time, scope and analytical perspective. They have however, proved useful as the researcher has crosschecked their contents with the oral interviews. Government publications have also been consulted. These include reports of Commissions of Enquiries and government white papers on certain issues in our region of study.

Furthermore, published works contributed by earlier scholars on the issues were also consulted. These works proved very useful to the understanding of some of the issues that were not properly understood from the oral sources. Unpublished works also constituted a useful source material for this work; such works include theses, seminar papers and conference papers, amongst others.

The work has adopted inter-disciplinary, chronological and thematic approaches. This is to say that it has not been restricted to a particular style or system but has encompassed other disciplines. The work adopts chronological approach to the issues involving the Tiv and their neighbours. This is to say that the period prior to 1900 have been discussed with a view to highlighting the relevance of our time perspective from a historical point of view. Conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours during the colonial period and the post-colonial period are also outlined in their sequence thus giving meaning to the claims, the thematic approach has also been adopted. Issues are not just treated in vacuum but follow in their themes based on their significance and time perspective. Effort has been made to use descriptive as well as analytical approaches.

Scope and Limitation

The scope in time perspective is from 1900 to 2001. This period covers about a century. While 1900 marks the beginning of formal colonialism, the year 2001 marks the highest point of conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in the area of this study. Our research work therefore deals primarily with the period of Tiv expansion and conflicts with other groups in our region of study. This is by implication to say that the occupation of the Tiv and these other groups in the region under study and their consequent expansion within the region might not have been a recent phenomenon. It was a continuous process spanning over a long period of time, even pre-dating the advent of colonialism. In post-colonial Nigeria these conflicts became more of national conflicts involving not just the Tiv but the Nigerian society at large. (Thus it is within this period and area that it becomes necessary to look at our topic in order to provide some insights which have been lacking in our understanding of the problem). It is also our hope that we would handle the major conflicts and neglect skirmishes of less in importance in terms of devastation.

The geographical area of study is the Benue Valley, with specific emphasis on three states, namely, Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa. However, considering the fact that the Bekwara people of Cross River, though outside our area of study, have long standing history of relations with the Tiv and had also been involved in series of conflicts with the Tiv dating back to the pre-colonial period, we may therefore be allowed certain treatment of issues involving them (Udam) and the Tiv where necessary.

As has been earlier asserted 1900 has been chosen as the starting point of the work. This is in view of the fact that, conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours prior to that period were minimal and easily managed by the groups concerned. Those conflicts assumed a new dimension and magnitude with the British occupation of Nigeria by 1900. 2001 has also been chosen based on the fact that those conflicts had within that period 1900 to 2001 to been viewed as conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours exclusively. Beyond 2001 these conflicts became more of national conflicts involving not just the Tiv but the Nigerian society at large. It is also our hope that we would handle the major conflicts and neglect skirmishes of less in importance in terms of devastation.

However, some understanding of the pre-colonial and post-colonial periods and the attempts at the critical historical evaluation of the issues involved in each of the periods, it is hoped, will enhance the articulation of our position.

Literature Review

There are a number of works on the Tiv and the other groups in the region. However, volumes dedicated to the theme of conflicts and conflict management between the Tiv and their neighbours are difficult to come by. In spite of that such books still remain useful to the present work. Hence, there is need to review some of these works here.

First among these for consideration here is the work edited by C.L. Temple entitled Notes on the Tribes, Provinces, Emirates and states of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria. [48] This work is a product of official reports of O. Temple, dealing with the history and ethnology of Northern Nigeria. Notwithstanding the desired objective of the book, the contents cannot be said to really articulate the history of the people of Northern Nigeria, which would have also included the peoples within our region of study. In point of fact, this supposedly colonial history of the people sometimes simply makes a generalized passing comment about the history of some groups. For instance, the short sentence of “There are 1,075 Wutana in Bauchi Emirate” [49] is all that it says about the history and ethnology of the Wutana people in the then Bauchi Emirate! But suffice it to note that this book was compiled to supply the basic information to the colonial administration on the people they were administering. Such information was necessary to the colonial administration in many ways. It could, among other things, assist the colonialists in planning strategies of their own interest. But certainly it is difficult to accept this book as a substantive account of the people of Northern Nigeria. Nevertheless this book remains useful to the study for many reasons. The grouping of Benue valley ethnic groups in respective provinces in the colonial period offers a useful understanding of how the groups were organized and administered.

The works by P. Bohannan, The Tiv of Central Nigeria [50] and the Tiv Economy [51] are worthy of consideration. The works were produced mainly to enhance the colonial understanding of the Tiv group so as to aid colonial policies regarding the Tiv. The works, of course, served the purpose of the period. For it was a period when there were no works on the Tiv people. Therefore the works have attempted to look at almost all facets of Tiv history.

Importantly, they have looked at Tiv migration and expansion, Tiv pre-colonial economic structure and the colonial administration. These works, no doubt, offer useful information to the the present work.

Although the Bohannan’s works remain useful, they have certain limitations that make the present work necessary. Most of the issues tackled were done in a sketchy manner just to accommodate the needed colonial information. Again the Tiv were not considered alongside other groups especially in the areas of expansion and conflicts. Furthermore, the works were limited to the colonial period.

The Groundwork of Nigerian History [52] edited by O. Ikime is another important contribution to our subject. This work has endeavoured to look at the history of the Nigerian peoples from the pre-colonial period. In fact, its contribution to our understanding of pre-colonial issues remains invaluable. It should be pointed out that the most important chapters to our study are those of Ade Obayemi, “States and peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence area”; and Sa’ad Abubakar’s, “Peoples of the Upper Benue Basin and the Bauchi Plateau before 1800”.

The two chapters have contributed to our understanding of the migration and expansion processes and even economic pursuits of some groups in our area of study in pre-colonial period. In spite of the far-reaching contribution of this work, the colonial and post-colonial periods relating to our subject have remained largely uncovered. Moreover, Ikime’s edited work did not go into any detail regarding conflicts affecting the Tiv and other groups in this area. “Communal Conflicts and the Possibilities of Conflict Resolution in Nigeria: A case study of the Tiv-Jukun conflicts in Wukari Local Government Area, Taraba State” contained in the Community Conflicts in Nigeria: Management Resolution and Transformation [53] is worth considering here. This chapter offered contribution to the subject of Tiv-Jukun conflicts in the local government of Wukari. In doing this the contributors looked at the pre-colonial history of the two groups. They also delved briefly into the history of the two groups in colonial and postcolonial periods. However, the work has not lived up to its title and declared objective. Apart from arguing that the Jukun people own the Wukari town, it is marred by so many historical pitfalls, such as: The Tiv in Wukari and Muri were placed under the emirate of Muri from 1901 until 1926, when they were placed under Wukari, mainly because the Tiv had no traditional monarch [54] This submission is incorrect as the colonial administration did create a Munshi Province in 1918 and most Tiv were put under this province which endured till 1926 when it was disbanded and the Benue Province created.

Terlumun Avav’s two books deserve our attention because of their relevance to the present work. They are, Refugees in Own Country [55] and The Dream to Conquer [56]. These two works deal with the issue of Jukun-Tiv conflicts in Taraba State in 1990. The works show that many colonial files or documents were consulted. However, the articulation or placement of the issues sometimes does not accord with historical facts. The author sometimes resorted to emotional treatment of his topics, thereby reducing the works to mere defensive history of the Tiv against the Jukun. But the two books by Avav have no doubt presented the case of Jukun- Tiv conflicts in the 1990s. Moreover, in doing so, the works have also endeavoured to provide the pre-colonial and colonial situations of the groups. This is indeed important to our study.

Recently, the Centre for Peace and Development Studies of Benue State University, Makurdi organized a conference on the causes of conflicts in the Benue Valley. [57] The book derived from the proceedings published by the Centre is a very useful source material for our study. The papers attempted in their respective ways to tackle the theme of the conference. In doing this, most papers were almost unanimous on ascertaining certain causes. For instance, the factors of politics, land and colonial legacy were highly reflected in most papers. Other contributions emphasize the poor economic situation of the region arising from economic neglect of the Federal Government, as a strong cause of conflicts in the Benue valley region. These factors are very valid and the contributions have really enriched our understanding of some of the issues that are central to our present work. Considering the fact that the topic differs to some extent from those of the conference this work is also bound to differ in approach, particularly the present work is a historical study that will endeavour to employ the canons of historical writing. Besides, the present study will not be restricted to Tiv-Jukun conflicts as the conference papers had essentially tended to do.

The Benue valley project papers funded by the Canada Council have contributed tremendously to our area of interest. In particular we may be permitted to mention the contribution of this project through R.A. Sargent in his paper titled: “The Northern Tiv: Migration, war and societal transformation” [58] eruditely treated his topic. He has shown clearly the movement of a segment of the Tiv people across a large area within the Benue valley region. Indeed he has accounted for their settlement in those areas, their warfare, and settlement pattern and captured the nature of their settlement pattern and even their economic activities. Most of the places covered by Sargent mainly fall within the present geo-political areas of Benue and Nasarawa States. In point of fact, this work has a solid historical foundation and therefore is a good contribution to our subject. Though a good work, its area of coverage leaves out a good chunk of areas of our study. Moreover, the work is concerned with the pre-colonial period only, thereby leaving out the colonial and post-colonial periods which are the main thrust of our work. The above works, as has been stated above, will be relevant but the present study intends to fill the gaping holes in other existing studies.

Another contribution from R. A. Sargent useful to this study is his published work emanating from his painstaking and well researched Ph.D thesis. The book which is titled Economics, Politics and Social Change in the Benue Basin C. 1300-1700 [59] is very educative on wide ranging issues of politics, socio-economics and inter-group relations within the Benue valley. This work has strengthened certain convictions. Such positions include, among others, the view that Kwararafa and Jukun kingdoms were, contrary to the well-known belief, different kingdoms to be treated separately. However, our fundamental departure from Sargent’s work is in its attempt at situating almost all activities and problems found in the region within the realm of economic interpretation. In spite of this, the book remains a useful asset to us.

Benjamin Akiga’s work translated by Rupert East as Akiga’s Story [60] has remained a very useful book of long standing historical relevance and reference. This is partly because it is one of the earliest works produced by a member of the ethnic group covering a wide range of issues. Tiv history of such areas include among others, social political, economic and religious aspects. Moreover, this work has endeavoured to venture into pre-colonial Tiv relations with their neighbours within the Benue valley. As a corollary the relevance of this book to this study is certainly not in doubt.

In spite of the usefulness of this work there are certain obvious human and time limitations affecting it, thereby creating room for our contribution. For instance, the book was written during colonial period and as such does cover post-colonial phenomena.

Again, as Akiga himself lamented, he was provoked by traditional passion to record, for posterity, those Tiv traditions or ways of life as, according to him, they were quickly given way to those of the Europeans due to the advent of British colonialism in Tivland. A quotation from him will make the point being made more appreciated:

So it has been my constant prayer that God would help me to write this book, in order that the new generation of Tiv, which is beginning to learn this New Knowledge should know the things of the fathers as well as those of the present generation. For everything that belongs to Tiv, is passing away, and old people, who should tell us about these things, will soon all be dead. It makes me sad to think our heritage is being lost, and that there will be none to remember it. [61]

The recent work by Peter Wallestein, Understanding Conflict Resolution [62] presents useful contribution to our work. It has thrown light on the theoretical perspective of conflict and also endeavoured to show how conflicts can be resolved. The work is also very educative on the nature or types of conflicts. Our fundamental problem with the work is, however, in the area of conflicts are really resolved. Lack of total agreement with the postulation helps to inform the present study.

Contemporary Conflict Resolution [63] by Hugh Miall et al has sharpened our understanding of contemporary conflict and how they can be resolved. In an erudite manner they have thrown light on the nature and dynamics of contemporary conflict. Their work, though more concerned with international conflicts, however, its theorizing remains useful to our work especially in the areas of asymmetric and symmetric conflicts.

Nawani Aboki’s work titled, And the innocent Die [64] should be acknowledged as a useful contribution to this work. Through his contribution it is easy to notice the grievances of the respective parties like the Tiv and Alago which had led to conflicts. Such feelings include, among others, the Alago feelings that the Tiv people were mere strangers on their land and should not be allowed the opportunity of having their (Tiv) separate traditional institutions to govern them. On the other hand Aboki has also endeavoured to capture the feelings of the Tiv which are in direct contrariety of that of the Alago’s thereby creating inter-group tension finally culminating in violent conflicts.

Notwithstanding, Aboki’s work is weak in certain areas. For instance, his work appeared not to have noticed the weakness in the Nigerian constitution regarding its failure to properly define the concepts of indigene and citizen as a source of conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours. Hence, he declared, “In view of the threat to citizenship and indigenship, a deliberate effort at educating young boys and girls early on the provisions of the constitution become imperative”. [65] This statement of his creates the impression that the constitution has addressed the issues of citizenship and indigenship and it remained for people to study it (constitution), whereas it is the very constitution that has remained silent on these issues, thereby creating room for Tiv conflicts with their neighbours in the sates of Taraba and Nasarawa. Also, in his way forward for addressing inter-ethnic conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours, Aboki placed a lot of emphasis on police or military action for the management of such conflicts. It is true that in quelling such violent conflicts military action is useful. However, beyond that, much more conflict management mechanisms of peace buildings are desirable for a much more ‘permanent’ solution. In view of the above the present contribution is needful with a view to filling the gap left by Aboki’s work.

Ogoh Alubo’s work titled, Ethnic conflicts and citizenship crisis in the central region [66] has proved useful to the present work. Alubo has indeed taken care to present so much of the conflicts that involved the Tiv and their neighbours. Moreover, he has shown evidence of a painstaking effort to study the various post-conflicts Commissions set up by governments to look into the successive conflicts that have erupted between the Tiv and their neighbours. This has remained remarkable and a strong contribution by Alubo to this subject.

Notwithstanding, Alubo’s failure to identify British colonial administration as laying the foundation for the post-colonial conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours has remained a weakness of the work. Consequently, Alubo missed a valid point when he submitted in the work that:

The sequence of events that led to the orgy of bloodletting has remote and immediate causes. The first relates to long standing contestations by the Tiv in the area variously for a sense of belonging, participation in decision making especially through political representation, and the right not only to vote, which they enjoy, but also be voted for, which was largely denied. [67]

This thinking has failed to consider the role of colonial administration as a root cause of the post-colonial conflicts. Moreover, it creates the impression that the Tiv have always contested for a sense of belonging. In pre-colonial period this was not the case as the Tiv were fully involved in the activities of these areas, not as settlers, but indigenes. Therefore, it was colonial administration that distorted the trend leading to the cry for a sense of belonging in those areas correctly mentioned by Alubo as accounting for conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours.

Again Alubo’s treatment of indigenship and citizenship as a source of conflict is not clear. For instance, he wrote:

At the one level, there is fear of domination by the less populous ethnic groups, who consider themselves indigenes, which, on the other, also translates to denial of inclusive citizenship for the Tiv, who are regarded by the former as settlers. [68]

The Tiv have never claimed citizenship as thought by Alubo but indigeneship. It is the contention of the present contribution that the Tiv are indigenes of such places having been there long before the advent of British colonial administration with its attendant administrative structures, inducing geo-political administrative boundaries giving birth to the modern postcolonial states.

The edited work by Shedrack Best titled, Introduction to peace and conflict studies [69] has proved useful to the present work. Specifically Best’s work is useful in the areas of the definition of concept of conflict, types of conflicts, causes of conflicts and the methods of conflict administration. Being a work dedicated to the understanding of peace and conflict studies, it has nothing to do with the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours in particular. Hence, there is need for the present work to address the present subject as its major concern.

Similarly, Peace and Conflict Studies [70] work by Ho-Won Jeong has done an indept contribution towards the understanding of this field of study. It also deals with the definition of conflicts, types of conflicts, causes of conflicts and the management of conflicts generally. Equally, this work does not concern itself with the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours since this is not of interest to it. Consequently, there is need to advance the present contribution.

Remi Anifowose’s Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv and Yoruba Experience [71] is useful to the present work. The author has done a thorough work on the Tiv militant revolts of the 1960s. He has shown clearly how the ruling Hausa-Fulani group through the NPC party instigated conflicts in Tivland in the 1960s. Through the analysis of the author it became clearer how those conflicts were inevitable considering the activities of the dreaded Native Authority in Tivland. Anifowose’s work offers a connection between the Tiv uprisings of the 1960’s and the later conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours. The author has also shown the lack of political will of the government in adequately dealing with the conflicts by not giving the desired treatment of submissions of reports of Commissions put in place by the same government at the end of every given conflict. Though, a beautiful contribution to the present subject, Anifowose’s work was written much earlier than most of the recent conflicts that have erupted between the Tiv and their neighbours. Moreover, it is not dedicated, in the main, to Tiv conflicts with their neighbours. Hence, there is need for the present work to make up the gap.

The biography of Sir Ahmadu Bello titled, Ahmadu Bello [72] written by John Paden is also a valid contribution to the present work. Since Ahmadu Bello was the Premier of Northern Region under which region the Tiv people and their neighbours were found, the leadership and activities of Bello were useful towards the understanding of some aspects of the conflicts that involved the Tiv and their neighbonrs. This is because in certain cases the conflicts owe their eruptions from the actions of the Premier. For instance, Bello’s insistence that the Northern Region was homogenous and indivisible created much disaffection between the Tiv and the Premier leading to high handedness from Bello which in turn culminated in conflicts in Tivland leading to further conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours. Fundamentally, Paden’s work is a biography and expectedly could not dedicate much time or space to the specific area of Tiv conflicts with their neighbours. Therefore, there is the need for the present contribution to look into the area of Tiv conflicts with their neighbours.

Also the biography of Alhaji Sir, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa titled, A Right Honourable Gentleman [73] written by, Trevor Clark is a valid contribution to the present work. Apart from being Prime Minister, Balewa was one of the NPC party leaders and belonged to the Hausa/Fulani group. The NPC with its Hausa/Fulani leadership had serious problems with the Tiv group. Consequently, it appears that this development led to strained relationship between the Tiv and the Prime Minister and by implication Federal Government and the Tiv people resulting in drastic Federal Government measures against the Tiv peole, including military actions in 1960 and 1964.

It should be noted that the crises further led to conflicts that involved the Tiv and their neighbours in 1964. Though Clark’s work is relevant, just like that of Paden, being a biography has failed to capture the theme of Tiv conflicts with their neighbours. Hence, the present work is necessary to address the subject of Tiv conflicts with their neighbours.

The work by Victor Elaigwu titled, The Military and the Management of civil crises in Nigeria 1960-1993, [74] is an important contribution to the present work. Elaigwu has done a lot on the Tiv uprisings of 1960 and 1964. In doing so he has endeavoured to account for the causes of such conflicts and the methods employed by the government to manage the crises. He has shown that generally the Nigerian governments have always preferred the military solution in managing such conflicts and has equally shown the dangers of frequent military intervention in managing the crises. Therefore, in his view the government should also try other conflict management mechanisms like peace building effort which would achieve more results than the constant resort to military intervention with less desired result. But like the other works, Elaigwu’s work is not mainly concerned with the conflicts that have erupted between the Tiv and their neighbours. Therefore, the present contribution is needed.

Organisation

The work is divided into six chapters. The division is based on two main factors themes and chronology. Chapter one which serves as an introduction to the work presents the subthemes that constitute the chapter. Chapter two is the background history of the people being studied in pre-colonial times. Specifically it looks at the period from the 18th century to 1899. The chapter comprises five sub-themes.

Chapter three is the beginning of the main body of the work, looking at the period of colonial rule to the process of transition towards handing over of power to Nigerians. The chapter focuses on the changing dimension of the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours while chapter four treats the transition to independence. It highlights the attempts by the colonialists to extend their prejudices against the Tiv in the process of the transition to independence. The chapter also outlines the emerging party politics that came to replace the hitherto traditional conflicts and assesses the attempts at managing such conflicts by the colonialists. The role of the Willink’s Commission in fermenting post-colonial ethnic conflicts has also been stressed in this chapter. Chapter five of the work dwells on the post-colonial leadership that was put in place by the colonialists and attempts to explain the conflicts that erupted as a result of the new leadership in Nigeria. The chapter goes on to highlight conflicts that emerged in post-colonial Nigeria involving the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley and the post-colonial management process. Chapter six of the work comprises the summary and conclusion of the work.

Endnotes

  1. T. Avav and M. Myegba, The Dream to Conquer, Makurdi, Onaivi, 1999, p.8.
  2. C.L. Temple (ed.). Tribes, Provinces Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, London, Frank Cass, 1919, p. 174.
  3. F.H. Ruxton, “Notes on the Tribes of the Muri Province”, Journal of the African Society, vol. VII, No. XXV, 1907, p. 381.
  4. R.A. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv: Migration, War and societal Transformation”, Benue Valley Project papers, No. 12, Dept. of History, Dalhousie University, Canada, 1975.
  5. Ibid., See also Hawa and Paul Bohannau, The Tiv of Central Nigeria, London, Stone & Cox, 1953, p. 98.
  6. D.D . Yongo, “A History of the Origin of the Jukun- Tiv conflicts in Post-Colonial Nigeria, Journal of Faculty of Arts, Management and Social Sciences (FUJAMSS), Vol. 1, No. 1, 2015, p.84.
  7. Until the 1920s, the Tiv people were known to the Europeans by the derogatory term Munshi supposedly given to them (Tiv) by the Fulani. Hence, the Term representing the Tiv group in the colonial official seconds before 1920. The British later discovered this error or is dependention and corrected it in 1920. See N.A.K., S.N.P. 9/8 – 2784/1921.
  8. N.A. K., S.N. P. / 4816/ 1918.
  9. H. Bobbyi, “Crises and Conflicts in Central Nigeria: The Case of Jukun and Tiv, “Paper Presented at the Conference on Nigeria: Unity Government and Conflict, Organized by World Peace Foundation, Kennedy School of Government, Havard University, Boston, U.S.A., 12-14 December, 2002, p. 7.
  10. W.B. Baikie, Narrative of an exploration voyage up the Rivers kwora and Binue, London, John Murray, 1854, p. 105.
  11. Ibid p. 105
  12. O. Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria, Ibadan, Heinemann, 1977, p. 218.
  13. C.C. Jacobs, “British colonial Administrative Policies with reference to Wukari with their effects on Tiv-Jukun Relations 1900-1906”, Paper presented at the 46th congress of the Historical society of Nigeria held at Benue State University, Makurdi, 20th-23rd Oct., 2002, p.5.
  14. Ibid., P.2
  15. D.J. Francis, “Peace and Conflict studies: An African overview of Basic concepts”, in S.G. Best (ed), Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies in West Africa, Ibadan, Spectrum, no, p.20.
  16. W. Isard, Understanding Conflict and the Science of and D. Weeks, The Eight Essential steps to Conflict Resolution, New York, Putnam Tharcher, 1992, p.ix.
  17. S.A. Ademola, “Theories of Social Conflict”, in S.G. Best (ed.). Introduction to Peace and Conflict., p.35.
  18. K. Marx, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, cited in ibid., p.41.
  19. M. Ross, The Management of Conflict: Interpretations and Interests in Comparative Perspective. New Haven, Yale University, 1993; J. Galtung, “Cultural Violence,” Journal of Peace Research, 27,3, 1990.
  20. P. Collier, “Policy for Post-Conflict Societies: Reducing the Risks of Renewed Conflict”, paper prepared for the Economics of Political Violence Conference, March 18-19, 2000. Princeton University/centre of International Studies, Princeton University and the Development Research Group, World Bank, 2000, P.2.
  21. M. Deutsch, The Resolution of Conflict: Constructive and Destructive Processes, London, Yale University, 1973.
  22. A. Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, New York, Macmillan, 1967.
  23. H. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th Edition, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1973, P.4.
  24. L. Berkowitz, Aggression: A Sociological Analysis, New York, McGraw Hill, 1962.
  25. A. Yates, Frustration and Conflict, London Methueu, 1962.
  26. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics in Nigeria., Enugu, NOK, 1982, p.6.
  27. K.I. Feierabends et al, “Social Change and Political Violence; Cross National Patterns”, in T.H. Graham and T.R. Gurr (eds), The History of Violence in America, New York, 1969, pp. 256-7.
  28. J.C. Davies, “Towards a Theory of Revolution,” American Sociological Review Review, XXVII, 1962, p.6.
  29. T.R. Girr. Why Men Rebel, Princeton, Princeton University, 1970, p.24.
  30. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics in Nigeria…
  31. J. Chalmers, Revolutionary Change, Boston, 1966, pp.12-13.
  32. L. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict, New York, Free Press;
  33. Thesarus and Glossary…,p.13.
  34. Ibid. p.13.
  35. E.I. Ross, Write Now, Barnes & Noble publishing, 1993.
  36. N. Lamb, The Art and Craft of Storytelling, F+W Media, Inc. 2008.
  37. M. Nikolajeva, Aesthetic Approaches to Children’s Literature: An Introduction Scarecrow press 2005.
  38. J. Morell, Thanks, but this isn’t for us. London: Penguin 2009.
  39. S. Folarin. “Christianity and Islam in the University of Ibadan”, B.A. Long Essay Project, Department of History, University of Ibadan. 1997, see also R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv, Yoruba and Niger Delta Experience Lagos: Sam Ironusi publications. 1982.
  40. V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution: Marxist Theory of the State Moscow: progress publishers. 1917.
  41. P. Wallestein, Understanding Conflict Resolution, London, SAGE Publications, 2002
  42. Ibid., p.8.
  43. H. Miall et al, Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Oxford, Polity Press, 1999, p.1.
  44. Zartman, cited in V. Elaigwu, “Crisis and conflict Management…”, p.1.
  45. C.A. Miller, cited in ibid., p.4.
  46. For these management styles see, Ho-Won-Jeong, Peace and Conflict Studies, England, Ashgate, 2000, pp.34-35.
  47. Federal Republic of Nigeria, Amended Constitution 2011
  48. C.L. Temple (ed.). Tribes, Provinces Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, London, Frank Cass, 1919.
  49. C.L. Temple (ed.). Tribes, Provinces Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, London, Frank Cass, 1919, p. 174.
  50. Paul and Laura Bohannan, The Tiv of Central Nigeria, London, Stone & Cox, 1953.
  51. Paul and Laura Bohannan, Tiv Economy, Evaston, 1968.
  52. O. Ikime, (ed.), Groundwork of Nigerian History, Ibadan Heinemann, 1980.
  53. O. Otite and I.O. Albert (ed) Community Conflicts in Nigeria: Management, Resolution and transformation, Ibadan, Spectrum, 1980.
  1. Ibid, p.149.
  2. T. Avav, Refugees in Own Country, Abuja, Supreme Black Communication, 2002.
  3. Avav and M. Myegba, The Dream to conquer, Makurdi, Onaivi, 1999
  4. Papers on Causes of Conflicts in the Benue Valley Conference organized by the Directorate of Peace and Development Studies, Benue State University, Makurdi, 20-23 March, 2005.
  5. R. A. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv: Migration, War and societal Transformation”, Benue Valley Project papers, No. 12, Dept. of History, Dalhousie University, Canada, 1975
  1. R. A. Sargent, Economics, Politics and Social Change in the Benue Basin C.1300-1700, Enugu, Fourth Dimension, 1999.
  2. R. East(trans.) Akiga’s Story, London, O.U.P., 1931.
  3. Ibid., p.2.
  4. P. Wallestein, Understanding Conflict Resolution, London, SAGE Publications, 2002, p.8.
  5. H. Miall et al, Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Oxford, Polity Press, 1999, p.1.
  6. N. Aboki, And the Innocent Die: The people, their land and Politics, Jos, S. Evans, 2004,
  7. Ibid., p. 205
  8. O. Alubo, Ethnic Conflicts and Citizenship Crises in the Central Region, Ibadan, PEFS,2006.
  9. 67. Ibid., p. 142.
  10. 68. Ibid, p.143.
  11. S.G. Best (ed), Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies in West Africa, Ibadan, Spectrum, no, P.20.
  12. Ho-Won-Jeong, Peace and Conflict Studies…
  13. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics in Nigeria…
  14. J.Paden, Ahmadu Bello, Zaria, Huda Huda, 1986.
  15. T. Clark, A Right Honourable Gentleman, Zaria, Huda Huda, 1991.
  16. 74. Elaigwu, The Military and the Management of Civil Crises in Nigeria. 1960-1993, Kaduna, N.D.A., 2003.

 

CHAPTER TWO

THE TIV AND THEIR NEIGHBOURS IN THE BENUE VALLEY REGION TO C. 1899

Land and People of the Benue Valley Region

The Benue Valley region constitutes part of the Central Nigeria area which is located between latitudes 7030” North and 11015”North and longitudes 40 and 170 East of Greenwich Meridian. It covers an area of approximately 179,300 km. It is bordered in the East by the Republic of Cameroon and to the West by its sister states of Niger, part of Kogi and the Federal Capital Territory. To the North, the Benue Valley area is bounded by Bauchi, Yobe and Kaduna States; and to the South by Cross River, Ebonyi and Enugu States of Nigeria. [1]

By the current geo-political structure, the Benue Valley Region incorporates five states of Benue, part of Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa, and Taraba. However, this study concerns itself with the three states of the region – Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. According to the 1991 census figure the population of the area was put at about ten million (10,000,000) people. There is sharp variation in population density of the states of the Benue Valley, ranging from the least of 27 person/km to the highest of 84 per/km. On the average, however, the population density may be put at about 50 per/km. The status of the states is captured by the table below:

State Land area (sq. Km) Population Density Person/Km2
Benue 32,910 2,753,077 84
Kogi 32,440 2,147,756 66
Plateau/Nasarawa 58,030 3,312,412 57
Taraba 55,920 1,512,163 27
Total   9,825,408  

Source: P. Dawan, “Aspects of the Geography of Central Nigeria Area” in A. Idrees and Y. Ochefu (eds.), Studies in the History of Central Nigeria Area Vol. 1,

Lagos, CSS, 2002, pp. 3-4

The Benue Valley has the greatest number of ethnic concentration in Nigeria. [2] The Tiv ethnic group, though a minority in Northern Nigeria, is however, the largest of all the minority groups in the entire Northern Nigeria and constitutes the largest ethnic group in the Benue Valley. However, the Benue Valley is also the home of other ethnic groups such as the Igala, Idoma, Jukun, Chamba, Azara, Alago and a lot more.

Benue Valley is one of the least developed in Nigeria despite its huge natural and human resources. Recently, a commentator on the contemporary situation in the valley aptly described it thus:

The ethnic groups in the Benue Valley, in spite of their salutary role in the political and constitutional development of Nigeria remain the poorest and most deprived in the country, unemployment is highest… and the per-capita income remains one of the lowest in the country. There is hardly any redistribution of capital-intensive socio-economic programmes from the centre to this area. The Benue Valley is in serious economic decline and is dependent on primary commodities. Undoubtedly, the valley is at high risk of violence given its social and economic characteristic has created a pool of impoverished and disaffected young men who can always be cheaply recruited by “entrepreneurs of violence”. [3]

The Benue valley region has a very fertile land which is suitable for farming activities with moderate vegetation and climate. The fertility of the region appears to have been of long standing and even struck the attention of the early European visitors to the area in the 19th century. One of them noted that:

The land is generally flat with fairly large hills at intervals, extremely fertile and well cultivated…. Yams, guinea corn, maize, rice, millet, sweet potatoes, beans, beniseed, etc, (are grown) in very large quantities, sometimes to such an extent that grain is allowed to rot for want of storage room. [4]

Figure 1: Tiv Expansion within the Benue Valley Region in Pre-Colonial Period

Traditions of Origin and Migrations into the Benue Valley Region

In the history of mankind, population movement from areas of original abode is a very common and general phenomenon. Almost all groups have traditions that seek to explain where they originated, the reasons accounting for their migration to secondary homeland or settlement and the experiences arising therefrom.

The case in the Benue valley is not an exception. For now, it is difficult to find any group within this region claiming descent or origin within the region. Though the pre-colonial histories of the people of this region, especially before the eighteenth century remain a conjecture, nevertheless tentative account is necessary as articulated here below.

Tiv: Origin and Migrations into the Benue Valley Region

The Tiv people are found in present Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau states within the Benue valley region. The word Tiv has a tripartite connotation. In one sense it denotes the name of the culture group of people. In another it connotes the name of an individual – the patriarch or person from whom, it is believed, the entire Tiv people descended. The word also stands for the language spoken by the group. It is difficult to determine the population of the Tiv at present. This is due to the obvious reason of being a victim of a nation entangled in a seemingly insoluble problem of population census. However, the population of the Tiv within the Benue valley is estimated to number from four to six million. [5]

That the people owe their origin to a common ancestor known as Tiv is not in doubt given the oral traditions that are available throughout Tivland. However, there are various accounts surrounding the origin of the patriarch himself. These accounts, among other things, attempt to answer such fundamental questions regarding the patriarch’s coming into being, the original homeland of the patriarch before his descendants’ later movement into their present abode in the Benue valley region. But rather than solving this problem the accounts complicate it more than ever, thereby reducing the entire project into a mythological one.

Though the accounts are many, an examination of one of them may be necessary. It posits that Aondo (God) created Anyamadzenga. Anyamadzenga got married and begot Takuruku. It continues that Takuruku also later married and begot two sons whom he named Tiv and Uke. It maintains that Tiv had two sons and gave them the names of Ichongo and Ipusu, literally meaning the circumcised and uncircumcised, respectively. In conclusion, these in turn became the progenitors of the rest of the Tiv people and represent the two super lineages of the ethnic group today. [6]

Regarding the issue of original homeland of the Tiv people, Swem [7] occupies a central position among the people. Yet, Swem itself attracts a considerable and seemingly endless debate. D.C. Dorward considers it mythical and analogous to the Biblical Garden of Eden. [8] However, Paul and Laura Bohannan suggest that Swem might likely be the hill of Ngol Kedju in the Bamenda highlands in the North Western Cameroun. [9] It is interesting to know that Akiga who claimed to have visited the place in 1934 maintains that Swem was a hill located in the Subsection of Tar [10] Ikyurav-ya known as Iyon in South–Eastern Tivland. [11]

T.Makar claims that Swem was a mountain located about forty eight kilometres Southwest of the compound of a district head, Yaro Gusa in the district of Nyiev Mbashaya, a mile away from the Cameroun frontiers. [12] Orkar simply states that Swem, the traditional cradle of the Tiv and their spiritual centre, is located to the south-east of their present settlement. [13]

Whereas Ballard is of the opinion that the Obodu Plateau is the probable location of Swem. He avers that:

Obudu is a fertile hilltop extending roughly six miles in length and up to half-mile in breadth, capable of supporting a large population. Its foothills on three sides at present occupied by the Utange, Becheve and Ndir, all linguistically related to the Tiv and none of these has traditions relating to the ancient fortifications still found on its promontories…. Here the linguistic distribution alone would raise the Obudu Plateau as a strong contender for the title of Swem. [14]

However, it is this Swem that the Tiv allude to as being their (Tiv) original homeland. Even those who believe that the Tiv came from elsewhere such as the Congo in Central Africa still accept that the entire Tiv group had settled at Swem for a considerable period of time before finally dispersing into the Benue valley region where they are now found. [15]

Notwithstanding the debates over the actual location of Swem, the ideas underscore the centrality and significance of the place to Tiv origin. Hence, it is not suprising when Makar declared “It was here that the two sons of Tiv: Ichongo and Ipusu became aware of their Tivness.”[16] The Tiv also claim that while at Swem, they lived in company of some Atoatiev (foreigners) such as Gbafum (Bafum) in the kingdom of Kom in the Bamenda province of the Republic of Cameroun for hundreds of years.

In spite of the arguments over Swem, this study does not intend to venture into the debate, it can only observe here that there is unanimity over Swem being, in one way or another, a Tiv homeland and the departure point where the Tiv moved and spread into their present abode. Thus, this study asserts that the people’s movement into their present homeland in the Benue valley did not take a northern course downward into the region or any other direction but southeastern or direct course upward into the valley. Furthermore, the Swem connection or tradition is significant in yet another sense that the Tiv, just like most of their neighbours such as the Jukun, are not aborigines in the Benue valley.

One may wonder why the Tiv people deserted their Swem homeland and consequently dispersed into the Benue valley. Various reasons have been advanced for this. These reasons are well articulated in the oral traditions of the people and written sources. One of the factors was population explosion. It is said that Swem homeland could no longer accommodate the astronomic population growth of the people. Another reason is that of unbecoming hostility from Atoatiev (foreigners). It is said that the Atoatiev were becoming increasingly daring in their attacks on the Tiv.

It is also said that the area had become unsuitable for continued cultivation and the Tiv had required more suitable areas for farming so as to produce sufficient foodstuff for the ever-increasing population. As seasoned farmers, it is possible that the growing population strength of the Tiv might have over-stretched the soil and accordingly rendered it inarable and therefore quite unsuitable for continued occupation, hence the evacuation and consequently search for more arable land culminating in the occupation of the Benue valley region by the people. Others are of the view that the ancestors of the Tiv left Swem also because it was in the character of the people to keep on moving. [17]

In this regard, we may say this is not peculiar to the Tiv people as it has been stated elsewhere that “Man’s history is a story of movement, of constant, restless striving for something better.” [18] At this point we may concede to the position that“ All these factors which appear cogent and acceptable in their own rights compelled the Tiv to vacate ‘Swem.’[19] Although it has been strongly suggested that between c.1500 and c.1600 the Tiv had departed their Swem homeland, [20] however, the people did not go straight to the area they occupy today. In the course of their movement from Swem, they migrated northward across the Bamenda highlands crossing the rivers Moan and Mkomon, pushing further north until they reached the east chain of hills on the south-eastern frontier of their present area.

To T. Makar, this chain of hills is known as Nwange [21] which seems to be Akiga’s version of Ibenda hills. [22] There is neither certainty nor agreement on a particular date that the Tiv people first entered the Benue valley region. Some observers are of the view that by the 17th century the people were already in the valley. [23] Others however are of the opinion that the people’s arrival there must have been of a later date probably in the 18th century. [24] It may be permitted to recall that there are those who are of the feeling that the Tiv may have been part of the Kwararafa Empire. Hence, the submission that ‘‘the Jukon empire must have been a confederation of loosely organized native groups, of which it may be the Munshi was a unit’’ [25]

It appears certain that by the 18th century, there had been some considerable expansion of the Tiv group within the Benue Valley. Moreover, due to their various important activities within the region as shown below, the people had become a factor in the valley. [26] With the opening of the succeeding century the Tiv group had become a dominant group in the Benue valley and defending territories such as Wukari, Keana, Awe, among others. [27]

The Jukun: Origin and Migrations

The Jukun people are found in Wukari, Takum, Ibi and Arufu in the state of Taraba. The people also have some pockets of riverine settlements at Abinsi and Akwana in Benue state. Apart from the core group identified today as being Jukun, other numerous ethnic groups in the states of Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Kogi are said to have descended from the Jukun. [28]

It is difficult to determine the population of the Jukun people. However, the census figure of 1931 placed the population at thirty two thousand (32,000). [29] The early history of the Jukun people is complex and difficult to authenticate. This is because the history is so intricately intertwined with the ubiquitous erstwhile kingdom of Kwararafa or Kororafa. There is no unanimity in the historical accounts relating to the Jukun origin. Early writers [30] have argued that Kwararafa and Jukun authority were synonymous signifying that the Jukun as an ethnic group must have founded and accounted for the kingdom. Furthermore, Meek is of the view that Kororofa may have been a corruption of the term Kwana Apa (the people of Kona) or Kuru Apa (the King of the Apa or Jukun).31 He further pointed out that the derivatives of the words Kororo (salt) and Kworra (river) may allude to the salt people, owing to the salt mines in Jukunland, and people of the river or water as a result of the fishing activities of the people.

The Borno people used to refer to the Jukun people as Kwana, while the Hausa used the name Kororofa for the same people. [32] Sarkin Musulmi, Bello, writing in the first half of the nineteenth century described the Kwararafa as one of the greatest Kingdoms of the Sudan, dominating the lower and the middle section of Hausaland – Kano, Zaria, part of Katsina and raiding Borno. [33] Furthermore, consequent upon these historical assumptions, and because Kwararafa was, at various times, mentioned in the Kano Chronicle and other accounts as far back as the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it has been readily claimed that it was the Jukun group that was referred to.

However, it should be pointed out that there are some inherent contradictions or problems in presupposing that Kwararafa and Jukun were the same. One of such has to do with the entire population of the Jukun group which was put at thirty two thousand by 1931 as mentioned above. That being the case, the logical question remains how such an insignificant number of people (Jukun) could have accounted for the great exploits involving a very great expanse of geographical area, and successfully waged wars against very large populations, sometimes involving different peoples.

Secondly, as correctly observed by one of the commentators:

It is really difficult to conceive that Bornu and Hausa who were much in contact with each other culturally and historically had named a common enemy, especially a pagan one, in two different ways. [34]

Certainly, as pointed out, one way of explaining this contradiction may be that Kwana and Kwararafa did not refer to one and the same group or state. It should be added that the Hausa refer to the Kororofa as one of the “pagan” seven Hausa states. Some traditions go further to state that the founders of Kwararafa were originally Hausa. [35] With reference to the Kano Chronicle Mohammed Riad’s critical comment cannot be overlooked. He avers that, “The Kano chronicle was written comparatively late in the history of Kano, and naturally a considerable margin of error must be allotted to the narrative.” [36]

It may be observed that in the Kano Chronicle often referred to, there is no direct reference to the name Jukun. Reference is usually made to Kwararafa, and there is no place in the Chronicle where Jukun was used interchangeably with Kwararafa. Therefore, the notion that Kwararafa meant the same thing as Jukun may after all have originated in the thinking of the creators of such idea; the reason for which is not yet clear. This same argument can be extended to the Katsina Chronicle and the records of Borno Empire. Of all the scholars that have regarded Kwararafa as the same as the Jukun, none has controverted the records of the Chronicles.

Kiyoshi, [37] who quoted such chronicles and records extensively, has not helped matters in this direction. At present such weaknesses, among others, render the Kwararafa/Jukun thesis untenable. Kwararafa, a kingdom reputed to have been very powerful, is said to have emerged in the thirteenth century around the southern Borno area. [38] Historical accounts indicated that from the period of its foundation to the early eighteenth century the kingdom successfully fought many wars. Within the period, it intermittently laid siege on some of the Hausa principalities. It thus appears too that the kingdom found it difficult to maintain a fixed landmass. It seems that, though powerful, it was a geographically unsteady and moving kingdom. Consequently, within the period under review, it drifted southwards toward the Benue valley before finally disintegrating in the eighteenth century. As this state moved southward, it has been suggested that its successive capitals were respectively situated in the towns of Santolo, Tangara, Biepi, Uka, Wuse, and finally Wukari in the nineteenth century.39 It is most probable that Kwararafa was rather a multi-ethnic kingdom – a confederacy, and that the Jukun group constituted one of the numerous ethnic groups of the confederacy. Moreover, others are of the opinion that the“…empire must have been a confederation of loosely organized native groups, of which it may be the Munshi (Tiv) were a unit…”[40] There is thus the need to consider Sergeant’s warning that“…any reconstruction of Kwararafa history must consider the relationship of this confederacy to Jukun political power…”[41] It is likely that most of the ethnic groups that at present claim descent from the Jukun group may have been part of the Kwararafa kingdom at one point or another. And it may have been this period of coexistence within the Kwararafa confederacy with the Jukun that they now claim descent from Jukun, because of the Jukun nomenclature that later became applicable to the empire.

It is difficult to explain why the name of the Jukun group has been applied synonymously with the Kwararafa kingdom but it is possible. Indeed a typical example of such occurred even within the same Benue valley region. This was in the colonial period in 1918 when some provinces in Northern Nigeria were reorganized. During that period the provincial adjustments gave birth to Munshi (Tiv) province, though it was not the Tiv or Munshi group alone that made up that Munshi province, in spite of the name. [42]

It is difficult to say exactly when the Jukun became a substantive member of the Kwararafa kingdom. However, recent research has shown that early Kwararafa history does not possess evidence of Jukun involvement, particularly when the capital was at Santolo, north of the Gongola River. [43] It is therefore, not out of place to align with the thinking that while the Jukun traditions provide information on Kwararafa or vice versa “…the perception that Kwararafa was a Jukun-dominated polity from as far back as the thirteenth century must be abandoned.”[44] But due to long existing confusion arising from the Jukun being passed for Kwararafa as shown above, it is difficult to effectively reconstruct the independent history of the Jukun group. However, more confusion, historical confusion and lapses accounting for many unanswered questions in accepting the claim that Jukun and Kwararafa were but one Kingdom.

Even Sa’ad Abubakar, who has written extensively on this subject, has not been able to convincingly prove that Kwararafa Kingdom was the same as Jukun Kingdom. Rather, lamentations abound in his works suggesting eventual feeling that Jukun and Kwararafa were, after all not the same Kingdom. For instance, he wrote:

While the external activities of the Jukun are well known, virtually nothing is known about their internal organization before the 19th century. In fact what is known about their external activities comes from non-Jukun sources. Apart from the Pintiga, the other Jukun groups do not have traditions relating to the past activities of their ancestors. It can be argued that the present Jukun have forgotten the past deeds of their ancestors because of the long time involved. But, if all the different Jukun groups still preserve their traditions of origin, the period of the migrations notwithstanding, it is difficult to imagine that the remarkable military achievements could be forgotten so easily. Similarly the traditions of various Jukun groups do not give any indication that an extensive, fairly centralized empire existed in the past. Thus, today the whole Jukun history is quite obscure, only tentative speculations can be made… [45]

Generally, the Jukun is referred to as the Jukun speaking groups. [46] Hence, this development, no doubt, creates an impression that the people were made up of differently constituted ethnic groups merely speaking Jukun language. Hamman is of the opinion that the people were better known or identified by the suffix of the respective areas in which they lived after the Jukun nomenclature-Jukun of Kona or Jukun of Wapa. [47] This, he noted was due to their separate existence.

The people’s main centre of habitation before 18th century is highly speculative. Some are of the opinion that it was the Atagora hill located north of the Gongola – Hawal confluence; while others are of the view that, it was the Kalam hill on the upper Gongola basin. [48] Hence, on the basis of these Sa’ad feels it is fair to accept the Gongola basin to have been the main Jukun abode. More so because, according to him: “…it still contains a number of Jukun communities, such as those of Kirfi, Pindiga and Jalingo Shani.”[49] If this area is taken as the main centre or abode of the Jukun by the 18th century, it is still difficult to unravel the history of the people before that century, and even their movement into the Gongola basin. Most scholars believe that the original or previous homeland was located in the north of the Gongola basin, suggesting southern movement to the Gongola basin. However, some people strongly believe that the Jukun people previously lived in the southernmost part of the Benue valley region (Cross Rivers area) before migrating northwards. [50] The evidence for southern origin for the Jukun people appears to be scanty. It has been stated above that the Jukun people at a point in time became part of the Kwararafa kingdom. It is difficult to ascertain the date that the Jukun people joined the Kwararafa confederacy, but one general conception about the Jukun creates a strong suspicion that the people joined the confederacy in the 16th century. This conception has to do with the feeling that:

…prior to the 16th century, the Jukun lived not under a central authority but in small communities, each independent of the other. But, probably as from that century, a powerful military class emerged among them, possibly to counteract Borno’s expansionist policy. [51]

This coming together to ward off Borno’s expansionist policy in the 16th century may have signified Jukun’s joining the Kwararafa confederacy. Having joined the Kwararafa kingdom, the political status of the Jukun segment grew steadily. The reasons offered for this enhanced status were the changes in the political and military organization within the kingdom which favoured the Jukun group. Sargent has suggested that the Jukun were familiar with bows, arrows, and spears, and were foot soldiers and more suited to the climate and environment of the middle belt and forest zone rather than open plains of the Sudan. [52] Hence, as the Kwararafa kingdom drifted towards the Benue valley the Jukun position within the kingdom grew steadily.  Moreover, the people’s (Jukun) prominent role in salt production and overland trade greatly enhanced their economic and political status.

Though Jukun position was enhanced in the 18th century they did not eliminate other groups within the Kwararafa kingdom. Therefore, the kingdom was still a multi-ethnic confederacy, but with a Jukun enhanced status. Nevertheless, other groups such as the Abakwariga still laid claim to the rulership of the kingdom. It was not, until the 19th century that it would appear that the Jukun had achieved exclusive political power. And by this period the Kwararafa kingdom in its early sense of application had collapsed with the Jukun dominating the Benue Valley area.

The Idoma Origin and Migrations into the Benue Valley

There is sharp disagreement among scholars regarding the history of origins and migrations of the Idoma people. This is because just as it is the case with African peoples’ precolonial or early history the sources available are largely primary and scanty, leading to substantial reliance on legends. The history of Idoma legend of origins and ethnicity is one of the people’s most difficult aspects of per-colonial history. Commenting on this history of the people, E.O. Erim submits that the early history of the people indicates that Idoma ethnicity is a contemporary phenomenon. [53] The meaning of this submission is that the heterogeneous groups which today bear the ‘Idoma’ nomenclature did not have a common ethnic identity before the advent of British colonialism. And as observed by O. Okpeh, this may have certainly accounted for the controversy, confusion and ambivalence the legends of origins and ethnicity of the people generated during the early days of colonial administration at the beginning of the 20th Century. [54] Notwithstanding, a tentative submission on this subject of Idoma history should be attempted.

The earliest attempt to study the Idoma is associated with the Akpoto or Okpoto. According to S. Crowther, an ethnic group known as the Akpoto once occupied most part of the area now inhabited the Igala, Idoma and Ebira.55 Although the identification of this group and the real nature of its relationship with the Igala, Idoma and Ebira remains difficult to determine by analyst, evidence exists in support of their antiquity in the Niger-Benue confluence area. For instance, Armstrong argues that arising largely from the relatively wide application of the Akpoto nomenclature in this general area, it is possible that a kingdom and/or people known by that name once existed. [56] This view is further reinforced by J.N. Ukwedeh’s rationalization that the Akpoto should be perceived as autochthonous group which gave birth to or played a fundamental role in the formation of modern Igala, Ebira and Idoma societies. [57]

Another school associates Idoma ancestral homeland with the Sahara region. Expressed by P.E. Okwori, this view claims that the Idoma, Igala and Ebira ethnic groups once occupied somewhere in the Sahara region. It further maintains that these ethnic groups were compelled tovacate the Sahara region for the Savannah sub-region following desiccation of the Sahara. [58] This view on the origin of Idoma has been strongly attacked for its obvious weaknesses. Commenting in this direction Okpeh maintains that, Okwori’s view appears to be isolated on the origin of the Idoma because it has not found acceptance with scholars on the subject. [59] Furthermore, that in addition to its failure to suggest any specific geographical area in the Sahara region where the Idoma occupied, it has not been corroborated by the oral history of the people regarding their traditions of origin. Also, that the exponent of this view neither cited his source for possible circumspective scrutiny nor did he give any other lead from his version. Hence, this makes it very difficult to test the veracity and authenticity of this proposition. There is yet another view on Idoma origin and ethnic identity associated with the Igala. This view sees the Idoma as being of Igala extraction, itself considered to be a sub-group of the Yoruba and therefore distinct from Akpoto. This thesis was popularized by W.B. Baikie. According to him, both the Akpoto and the Igara (Igala) occupied territories around the Niger, the former on the East and the latter in the West of the Niger. However, by about the first decade of the 15th Century, the Igala were driven east of the Niger where they settled among the Akpoto. According to this view, the Idoma are a hybrid of the Igala and Akpoto fusion. [60] This view appears to suggest that the Akpoto and the Igala were originally Yoruba speaking and the present Idoma ethnic group is a synthesis of the two. This view is strengthened by the lexicon-statistic evidence which grouped the Idoma, Igala and Yoruba under the Kwa sub-unit of the Niger Congo family of African languages. It must have been on this basis that Erim concluded that that the Yoruba factor in both Igala and Idoma cultures cannot be completely ignored. [61] The debate on this subject goes beyond this but suffice it to note here that the above shows that scholars have generally disagreed on the origins of the Idoma people.

Regarding Idoma ancestral homeland before the group’s dispersal into the present abode traditions have mostly pointed to Apa (Beipi), tentatively associated with a one time capital of the legendary Kwararafa confederacy. Several scholars have confirmed that Kwararafa confederacy had once existed within the Benue valley. [62] Similarly it has been agreed that the Idoma were one of the many ethnic groups that left Apa because of the growing state of insecurity arising from the perennial warfare both within and outside the kingdom. Some scholars have suggested that by the 16th Century Kwararafa kingdom had started to decline and that coupled with the dynastic tussles associated with the ascendancy of the Jukun on the corridors of power, this aggravated the already confused political situation. The result of these processes was the disintegration of the society and therefore the beginning of the mass migrations of Idoma and other ethnic groups like the Igala and the Ebira. [63]

From the oral traditions of the people supported by available documentary sources, by the beginning of the 16th Century, the Idoma began to spread out over large areas of the lower Benue, mainly south of the river. The result of this pattern of migration was that, over time, they became thinly dispersed over much of the territory now inhabited by the Tiv, Igala, Ebira and Idoma. Erim dated this first wave of Idoma migrations to between c.1535-1625. [64] According to him, the Ugboju, Adoka and Otukpo constituted this category of Idoma migrants. These migrations began in their vigorous push into the Benue valley. The arrival of the Tiv impacted tremendously on the Idoma during the period. According to Erim, this consequently led to the collapse of the evolving ‘new’ Apa, or what he calls Apa 1.

Another wave of migration from Igalaland moved westward into modern Idomaland. These migrations identify Apa as the home of their ancestors, but nevertheless argue that after their departure from Apa at an earlier date, they migrated to parts of Igalaland. They were however soon compelled to leave that place for parts of western modern Idomaland because of the political upheaval and stampede which resulted from the influx of migrants into the area and the rather explosive political situation of the time. Erim contends that the bitter struggle that characterized the political ascendancy in the Igala state with headquarters at Idah sent numerous migrants fleeing eastward into Idomaland from 1685-1851.65

The Alago Origin and Migrations into the Benue Valley Region

The history of Alago people, just like other African groups is faced with many weaknesses. These problems generally emanate from the nature or state of the historical sources needed for the reconstruction of authentic history of the people. Much of the sources are in forms of legends and oral traditions with their attendant weaknesses. Notwithstanding, tentative attempt at the people’s history can be made. Writing on the history of  origin and migrations of the Alago group into the Benue Valley Region, Aboki declared that:

The collapse of the once powerful Kwararafa Kingdom and the consequent disintegration that took place saw the migration of several groups across the country. Alago history posits that they settled at the present abode in the 12th century. The areas occupied constitute the area currently called the Nasarawa South Senatorial Distrct. Prominent Alago towns included Doma, Keana Alagye, Ondori, Akpanaja, Doka, and Agbashi. Idiya, Ogeisa, Igbabo, Agaza, Aloshi, Obi, Kadarko, Kwara, Omagede, Ibi, Jimiru, Assakio, Adogi, Ankani, Akurba, Sonya, Sabongida, Adudu, Odobu, Agwatashi, Kuduku, Olonya and Owena, among others. [66]

It is difficult to accept this assertion on the Alago as a plausible submission on the history of the Alago people when the legendary Kwararafa itself is still subject to historical debate.

Moreover, as submitted by Ade Obayemi:

Of the individual histories of peoples like Idoma, Alago and Afo before about 1800, we are faced with the handicap that we can in the present state of available information make only a few general statements. [67]

It would appear that the history of the Alago people has evidence of Igala connection. Alago popular traditions [68] state that at a point in the history of the Igala people, at the death of the Atah, the paramount ruler, the rightful heir to the throne was one Andoma but a rival faction proved the stronger and a usurper became Atah. A large number of people however supported Andoma and when Andoma decided to set out and found a new kingdom he was followed by a considerable number of the inhabitants of the kingdom of Idah. The tradition continues that at intervals, along the route, parties dropped out and settled on favourable sites and this, it is said, is the origin of the Igbira and Kwotto on the North of the Benue. And as suggested, Kwotto seems to be the same word as Okpoto when one allows for the interchangability of the sounds “—kp— and “—kw— among African groups. At Doma, according to the tradition, Andoma sent out his younger brother, Keana with a following to look round for a better site and to come back and report the result. Keana discovered a place with salt deposits and fertile land but instead of returning and reporting his valuable discovery to Andoma he quietly settled there and founded the town named after him Keana. After a time, Andoma became impatient and went out in search of Keana. When he found him and realized his disloyalty he was angry and caused the salt workings to be trampled into mud. He said ‘‘Ilagogo’’ which means ‘‘our speech shall be different’’. A slightly changed in pronunciation of this phrase is according to tradition the derivation of the group’s name ‘‘Alago’’ or ‘‘Arago’’, as a proof, the tradition pointed out that Doma and Keana speak slightly different dialects of Alago. And it would appear that the time suggested for this historical activity was about seven hundred years.

Therefore, as captured by the colonial records:

It would be interesting to compare the Arago language with the Okpoto, Igarra and Igbira languages to test the Doma traditions, but in 700 years it is quite possible that radical changes may have occurred in the languages since they had not been reduced to writing or fixed in any way. An Arago vocabulary was compiled by M. Campbell Irons when he was in charge of Lafia Division. It would also be of interest to see whether Idah preserves a tradition of any large exodus. At the time of the arrival of Andoma, the District between Doma and Keana was inhabited by Koro tribe, as is still the case, while to the South the country now inhabited by the Munshi is said to have ben inhabited…to the North were the Mada and Nungu as they still are but in those days they extended into the plains as well, not having been forced to their hill fastnesses by the later external raids and wars. The Koro therefore, seem to be aboriginal inhabitants and were probably of considerable extent until broken by more virile immigrants. [69]

According to one popular tradition, it was from these two settlements of Doma and Keana that the Alago people later expanded to other areas in the Benue Valley Region.

Tiv Expansion and Relations with her Neighbours in Pre-colonial Benue Valley Region

As can be seen from the above, before 1900 all the cultural groups in the Benue Valley Region had migrated into the region, including the Tiv group which was one of the last entrants into the region. R.Sargent, writing on the pre-colonial history of this region noted that:

The population of the northern middle Benue region is quite ethnically mixed with a diverse and often dispirit in nature. In fact, it is possible to identify three distinct “levels” in the population. The first strata represented by the “indigenous population”, includes the Kworo, Kwena and Wadu. It seems that these elements have been for the most part, assimilated waves of immigrant settlers. [70]

Furthermore, he noted that:

The first of these waves to enter this region included the Alago and Jukun. They seem to have hived off from Kwararafa during the disintegration of that state. The Alago settled at and ultimately centralized into two major chiefdoms Keana and Doma. The Jukun, on the other hand, founded ruling dynasties at Awe and Wuse. The second immigrant wave…contained three distinct ethnic elements. The first to arrive in this region was the Kambari from Bornu….They settled at Lafia in c.1745-1775 under the auspices of the Ozana (King) of Keana. The second northern group was the Katsinawa who appeared to be fleeing the Islamic jihads in the north. They founded ruling monarchies at Abuni and Tunga Nkasa, and also managed to depose the Jukun in Awe. The third element in this early nineteenth century immigration was the Tiv. The emergence and development of Tiv settlements north of the Benue provided the catalyst for some dramatic changes in the plurality; changes that have persisted throughout the colonial and independence periods. [71]

The early nineteenth century date assigned to the Tiv as a period marking their “immigration” to those areas appears to be rather late as the same Sargent wrote somewhere that:

It seems that as early as c.1760-1787 Tiv mercenaries were active in certain northern monarchies. For example, the Osana (king) of Keana Ozegya Adi utilized Iharev-Tiv mercenaries in his attempted centralization of Keana monarchy. In fact, Ozegya Adi employed both Tiv mercenaries and agriculturists to further the development of his state….These Iharev warriors…provided the military arm of the Osana’s success. This mercenary corp was probably supported by a number of Iharev agricultural communities located around Keana. Therefore, by effectively utilizing the available Tiv warriors and farmer element Ozegya managed to forge a strong centralized and economically wealthy state. [72]

Therefore, it should be observed that this Tiv mercenaries or warriors, agriculturalists or agricultural communities located around Keana and featuring prominently in the centralization of the Keana monarchy as far back as c.1760-1775 couldn’t have been said to have immigrated to those same area in the much later early nineteenth century since the Keana monarchy constitute part of the area under consideration. Notwithstanding, what is important here is that the Tiv were there before the advent of British colonialism.

On his part, E.O.Erim has shown that Tiv entry into the Benue Valley Region resulted in population displacement of some cultural groups in the region. He noted that:

The groups that peopled Apa 1 included the descendants of modern, Ogboju, Adoka,Otukpo, Doma and Keana…although the leader of the last two groups moved to the north bank of the Benue during the second generation of the of the sixteenth century following the discovery of salt wells in the hinterland of Keana….Indications are that these immigrants maintained cordial relationship with their host, the Igbirra, all of whom were later displaced by the Tiv invasion which increased in intensity between 1685 and 1715. In other words, the push was one important factor which proved too vigorous for the politically decentralized Idoma to withstand. [73]

There is variation in the dates advanced for Tiv entry and activities in the Benue Valley Region. Again, that Tiv entry into the region was marked by conflicts leading to the displacement of other ethnic groups. What is important here is that the dates suggest that the Tiv people had migrated into the region either in the 17th or 18th century predating British colonialism. And in the course of Tiv expansion within the region following their entry, conflicts were generated, but outside wars, other forms of relations between the Tiv and their neighbours in the region were also registered as well.

As shown, Ozegya Adi employed both Tiv mercenaries and agriculturalist to further the development of his state. Adi was directly assisted in this move by an elite corps of Iharev-Tiv warriors who provided the military arm of the Osana’s success. This mercenary corps was probably supported by a number of Iharev-Tiv agricultural communities located around Keana. These agriculturalists although relatively small in number provided food and other commodities to the citizens and soldiers of Keana. Therefore, by effectively utilizing the available Tiv warrior and farmer element Ozegya managed to forge a strong centralized and economically wealthy state. The basis for the Ozana’s economic success was the ability of the population to concentrate on salt production and distribution, while supplied with food and other commodities by the Iharev-Tiv community. Subsequent Alago monarchs sought to foster further Iharev-Tiv immigration, and thereby further the growth and development of their chiefdom. The Iharev-Tiv decision to cross the Benue in C. 1805-1835 may have been influenced by the earlier activities in the north, and the knowledge of the fairly plentiful lands that the earlier activity provided.

Tiv mercenary activity in the late eighteenth century may have extended beyond Keana. The evidence for this assertion is far more speculative than in the case of Alago-Iharev cooperation. However, the following evidence does provide a partial explanation for the Nongov- Tiv willingness to risk migration into the north. A Nongov-Tiv compound near the Benue was called Adasha. [74] Adasha was the name of a well-known ancestor spirit said to represent the Jukun king of Awe, Aji (c. 1760 – 1787). This king had been assassinated during his bid for political independence from the sovereignty of Kwararafa monarchs. Today the ancestor masquerade representing Adasha greets his adherents in the Banu dialect. It is not exactly clear why a Nongov-Tiv should name his compound after a Jukun king. However, it is clear that this settlement was located near the Banu Jukun, and that both the Iharev-Tiv and the Nongov-Tiv had close connections with these riverain peoples. In fact, it seems clear that the Nongov-Tiv were friendly with the Banu by C. 1745-1775, the generation of Aji Adasha’s reign. Also, as Iharev-Tiv mercenaries had assisted Keana during the same generation that Aji reigned in Awe, it is quite possible that Nongov-Tiv mercenaries also fought with the Jukun king. This earlier connection with the Jukun of Awe would probably account for the Nongov-Tiv migration, and ultimate expansion toward the Awe area. [75]

Although at this juncture we cannot clearly argue that the earlier relationships affected the decision to migrate across the Benue, there may be some connection. Also, despite the Keana monarch’s efforts to attract large-scale Iharev-Tiv immigration to that Alago area, the first major movement occurred in C. 1805 – 1835. In fact, Iharev-Tiv traditions claim that the Jangarigari forces had first attacked them. Therefore, the Jangarigari forces under the leadership of war Chief Anga Yaki, [76] had antagonized a much more powerful and capable fighting force than they at first realized. Once the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv compounds were completed, and walled for defence, the Tiv warriors prepared to deal with their immediate enemy. The march on Jangarigari was quickly planned and the Tiv forces fully ready for vengeance. Iharev-Tiv traditions clearly recall the attack on Jangarigari as follows:

When all the fighting forces had gathered on the fixed day, the great war leaders, Nyam, Chafu and Gbayange led the warriors into battle. When they approached Jangarigari, with the army divided up under the great warriors, someone climbed a tree and sounded a horn for the attack to begin…[77]

The attack was eminently successful, with the surviving defenders forced to flee. Many slaves were captured, and many more were killed. In fact, the Tiv attack on Jangarigari, and the reputation it built kept the ‘Hausa’ settlement deserted for ten years. The initial battle of the Tiv-Hausa war had been fought and won. It seems, at this stage of the conflagration, the Tiv could proceed with the establishment of their farms, and continue to expand even further into the north with little or no opposition.

The defeat of Jangarigari had opened the way for community expansion from the confined river bank compounds. The Iharev-Tiv tended to favour expansion toward Keana, while the Nongov-Tiv turned eastward, and fanned out northward toward Awe. [78] It was the Iharev-Tiv movement toward Keana that initiated the second campaign of the Tiv-Hausa war. It was not the Alago who objected to the Tiv incursion, but the Katsinawa settlers at Tunga Nkasa. In fact, one might argue that the Alago of Keana welcomed the expansion of Iharev-Tiv settlers, possibly because of their fear of Katsinawa ambitions. By C. 1805 – 1835 the Katsinawa were firmly established as the ruling element in Awe. [79] It is possible that the Alago of Keana feared a similar move in their polity. There is evidence that the Katsinawa were already infiltrating the community, and possibly considering seizure of the salt industry. Whatever the expectation of the Katsinawa of Tunga Nkasa, the approach of Iharev-Tiv settlements, and the growing Alago mistrust represented the first step in the direction of another Tiv-Hausa clash.

The eventual Tunga Nkasa- Tiv military clash may have occurred for a number of reasons, some of which have already been mentioned. Certainly the Alago concern over the growing strength of the Katsinawa was one reason behind the reaffirmation of the Tiv-Alago military alliance. Also, there may have been a direct competition between the Katsinawa and the Tiv, both of whom depended upon farming. It is a geographic fact that the Keana area is not conducive to extensive agricultural activity. The area could logically support one substantial farming community, but not two or three as the demand seemed to dictate. This fact may have prompted direct competition for the land resource between the Tiv and the Katsinawa. In this type of debate the Alago could remain aloaf, as long as their supply of foodstuffs was not interrupted. However, the Alago monarchy and industrial citizenry would have preferred a Tiv agricultural supplier rather than a potentially threatening Katsinawa element. Also once the Alago could manipulate the Tiv into the surrounding countryside Keana would be more secured. Basically the Tiv were politically unambitious, and therefore not threatening to Keana autonomy. They were, on the other hand, extremely land conscious, and well equipped to supply their own defence if the need should arise. The Alago may have considered the possibilities presented by a stable, agrarian ally, capable of securing the field against almost any adversary, surrounding their community. It seems that in most centralized states the capital, in this instance industrial Keana, had to provide protection for its citizens and agents operating beyond the walls. However, if the Iharev-Tiv could remove Tunga Nkasa, Keana could benefit tremendously from the symbiotic relationship. For instance, they would be relieved of the external responsibility of defence of the chiefdom a responsibility assumed by the Tiv. The evidence indicates that the Alago monarchy advocated the combined attack on Tunga Nkasa, but managed during the course of the battle to keep its troops withdrawn.

In theory at least the Katsinawa chieftaincy of Tunga Nkasa was politically subordinate to the Keana monarchy but the Katsinawa were politically ambitious and would likely seek to assert political hegemony. The Islamic leaders were seeking not only to protect whatever hold they still had on the economic resources, such as the land and salt, but they also sought to preserve their political domination in the face of what may have appeared as an irrational ‘heathen enemy’.

The next phase of the Tiv-Hausa war was initiated by the Kamberi settlers in Lafia. This Kamberi chiefdom had been founded in c. 1740 – 1787, and had been strengthened by more recent influxes of settlers from Borno. The monarchy in Lafia eventually felt strong enough to order an attack on Keana in an effort to assert its political autonomy. [80] The Kamberi had been allowed to settle in Lafia initially with the permission and blessing of the non-Muslim Alago monarchy of Keana. Thereafter the Alago had remained the paramount authority in the region, possibly even receiving tribute from Lafia. However, during the course of the Tiv-Hausa war, possibly in c. 1850, the Emir of Bauchi sought to establish supreme Muslim authority over this entire region. The Emir eventually convinced Lafia, after a military confrontation to severe their pagan ties and assert more orthodox Muslim attitudes. This might be considered the orthodox Muslim interpretation of events. Nevertheless, the Muslim leaders in Lafia would probably feel more at ease in a tributary relationship to a Muslim overlord, rather than to the pagan Alago. On the other hand, the superior forces of the Bauchi Emirate, and the Emir’s desire to rule this area probably made Lafia’s decision to throw off Keana sovereignty more of an imperative than a process of self-determinism.

Keana was not likely to lose a tributary state without some sort of fight. In the war which ensued, the Kamberi of Lafia attacked Keana and stole the prized carved doors of the Ozana’s palace. These doors were installed to decorate the Muslim Emir’s palace in Lafia, and symbolically marked the assertion of the Kamberi’s autonomy, albeit only to fall under the suzerainity of Bauchi. The Keana chief responded to the Kemberi attack by appealing to his military allies: the Iharev-Tiv, and endeavoured to organize combined military expedition. The Ozana enticed the Tiv into cooperation by laying claim to only the carved doors, and offering to leave all other plunder, including captured slaves to the participating Tiv. [81] The ploy worked, and Tiv warriors from as far away as the northern Benue and Awe area; marched on Lafia. The attack was successful; the town was defeated and sacked, with all booty going to the Tiv except the carved doors. Today these doors are said to be in Osana’s palace as a major source of pride, and any Alago man is more than ready to tell their history. However, although the doors were returned and the military defeat of Lafia was achieved, it did not re-establish the vassal-tributary relationship. The defeat of Lafia had been a military success but a political failure.

The Keana monarchy managed to effectively utilize the Tiv military capabilities even further. The Keana chieftaincy hoped to remove or reduce the political influence and prestige of the Alago state of Doma. Osana Eladoga Onyatiko convinced the Iharev-Tiv that Lafia and Doma had been in alliance, and that Doma therefore represented a powerful threat to both themselves and the Tiv. It becomes obvious that as the Tiv-Hausa war progressed that Keana was diplomatically manipulating Tiv military capabilities to Alago advantage. However, it is equally important to note that after every Tiv victory the Alago were not the only ones to benefit, in fact the Tiv gained valuable land resources for occupation and settlement. This seems to have been the case in the defeat of Doma. The Tiv captured many slaves, and opened up valuable new areas for Tiv settlement. With each new military success the Tiv-Iharev and Nongov-expanded into the area and occupied much of the agricultural space around the defeated town. In this manner the apolitical Tiv managed to reduce the possibility of renewed aggression with that defeated opponent, and also minimally control the political development of that chiefdom. The Tiv-Alago military alliance was mutually beneficial. Keana was assuring its political autonomy and survival when many non-Muslim monarchs were being displaced in this region. The Tiv were being manipulated only because the alliance also served their ends, and partially satisfied their seeming insatiable desire for more and more agricultural lands. It seems that the Kings, courts, towns and markets of the centralized chiefdoms could flourish as they would as long as they did not seek to interfere with the lives and lands of the Tiv. In a sense Tiv power took the form of controlling the means of agricultural production, the land, and participating peripherally in the Alago production and distribution of salt.

The escalation of the Tiv-Hausa war brought more and more Islamic communities into an alliance, and as each alliance was formed the Tiv found yet another target for their poisoned arrows. The Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv claimed that Abuni had come to the aid of Jangarigari, [82] but had arrived too late for the actual fighting. When the Tiv had achieved a degree of consolidation with the defeat of Jangarigari, Adudu, Tunga Nkassa, Lafia and Doma, they turned their attention to Abuni. In the interim period Abuni seems to have made an alliance with the Kanje chiefdom; an alliance for mutual assistance in times of war. Abuni may even have been a sub-unit of the Kanje political sphere, a factor which remains unclear at this particular time. When the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv attacked Abuni, Kanje came to assist in the defence according to the ‘treaty agreement’. Despite the alliance the Tiv attack prevailed, and Abuni was sacked. [83] The survivors fled to Kanje with the Tiv warriors in pursuit. [84] Kanje was a well-known town on the trade route from Awe to the north, along which northern goods flowed toward Awe to be exchanged for salt. [85] Kanje became a favourite spot for Tiv hijackers who raided the donkey caravans plying the important trade route.

The attackers from Abuni entered and sacked Kanje, apparently attacking a trading caravan in the village. The leader-owner of this caravan was a daughter of the Sultan of Sokoto. [86] She was captured by a Tiv warrior called Aka, [87] and taken as a slave wife. She apparently remained in this Tiv family, and produced many children in Aka’s compound. The kidnapping of the Sultan’s daughter marked the point of greatest escalation in the Tiv- Hausa war. The Sultan of Sokoto ruled over the largest political grouping in tropical Africa, the Sokoto caliphate, including a population of between twenty and thirty million citizens. This foremost Islamic leader south of the Sahara utilized his spiritual and political authority to mobilize the largest Muslim army ever to take the field against the Tiv. The military effort to rescue the Sultan’s daughter brought troops from Lafia, Keffi, Nasarawa, Bauchi and Awe, [88] under the leadership of Alhassan of Awe. The final decisive battle in the Tiv-Hausa war was about to take place, with the Tiv warriors arrayed against the combined forces of Islam. From Tiv traditions it is difficult to assess the size of the army amassed against them, except to say that it was significant. There is also little evidence to suggest either way whether the old ally, the Alago of Keana, were willing to enter the coming fray alongside the Tiv. It appears that the Tiv stood alone against the forces of Alhassan and had to face the ultimate test of their effectiveness, bravery and military tactics.

From the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv perspective the battle that was about to take place was the conclusive blow in their struggle for a position in northern demography. The war drum Ndyer was sounded, and Tiv warriors gathered and prepared for the decisive military encounter. The gods were consulted, and apparently answered favourably because the Tiv army took to the field with a vengeance. In the ensuing battle a number of Muslim leaders were killed, including their commander Alhassan. The details of the encounter are scanty, but the Islamic forces were driven off providing the victory of c.1879 that won for the Tiv a permanent place in northern Nigeria political geography.

It is probably incorrect to call this prolonged Tiv-Hausa confrontation a war, rather it should be seen as a series of battles, fought to control the land. Each battle seems to have had a different motivation or causal factor. Despite the apparent discontinuities in the progress of the ‘war’, it still may be possible to conclude that it was an imperial conflagration fought between two competitors – Muslims and non- Tiv for control of a valuable and limited resource, the land. The military victories assured for the conqueror living space north of the River Benue. Additionally Tiv success in battle determined the peculiar settlement pattern in this whole region, with the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv controlling the land, and Alago, Hausa, Jukun and Kamberi occupying the urban centres. Those urban centres have provided the chiefs and political officials, while the urban population changes in salt production, trade, crafts and small amounts of farming. A symbiotic relationship had developed, with the Tiv farmers supplying the urbanized populations with food and agricultural products. It was the Tiv who determined this relationship, not by political dictate but by military conquest. Had the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv lost it seems likely that the urban Muslim core would have been reinforced by large-scale migrations from the north, which would have ultimately peopled the land with farmers- settlers of their own ethnic group and religious persuasion. However, the Tiv were victorious, at least in an economic sense, and in carving out their place in the north managed to directly and indirectly alter the social, political and economic configuration of the region.

The first change that becomes evident from Tiv sources was the transformation in Tiv social and political patterns. The pressures of frontier life seem to have changed their normal settlement pattern. The ‘towns’ of Jangaru and Kuzur were large, wailed and heavily guarded communities, [89] representing a drastic departure from normal scattered, unwalled compounds prevalent in the south.90 Also, because of the constant threat of ‘Hausa’ aggression, the Iharev- Tiv and Nongov-Tiv went through a slight political evolution where they created leadership position to guide them through the difficult period. In a society that seems to have a natural aversion to authority, the development of war chiefs, and tor-agbande (drum chief) as positions of authority and leadership represented quite a development in Tiv political history. [91]

One of the ethnic groups to benefit the most from the incursion of the substantial Tiv settlers was the Alago. The expansion of Iharev-Tiv settlements around Keana not only meant a reaffirmation of the military alliance, but also worked to the economic benefit of both groups. A mutually beneficial trading system was quickly established, with the Tiv selling agricultural products in Keana market and buying large quantities of salt. [92] This trading relationship grew rapidly, with the Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv emerging as middle-men in a substantial salt trade that provided Tiv in the ‘homeland’ with this valuable commodity. From a limited survey of this trade it is possible to determine that approximately 10,000 tons of salt may have been traded southword, [93] with a considerable profit being returned to both the Alago of Keana and the northern Tiv.

The effects of the Tiv on the salt industry were more than just supporting the industrial development of Keana. Certainly Keana directly benefited from the establishment of Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv communities north of the Benue; but at the same time the Awe salt industry probably suffered. The usurping Katsinawa monarchy in Awe had attempted to foster a largescale northern trade. The Tiv-Hausa war must have retarded this development, probably to the betterment of the Keana producers. The trade route to Awe, as described in Dr. Unomah’s study of Awe salt, [94] led through Kanje, which was the most vulnerable spot on the whole route. It seems that Tiv highjackers frequented this spot, and made the journey to Awe dangerous and potentially unprofitable. Whereas, the Tiv-Alago alliance probably limited raids on caravans proceeding to Keana, thereby, increasing the attractiveness of Keana as a salt market.

It becomes clearly apparent that one of the most important effects of Tiv settlement in the north was on the salt industry. The Awe trade between c.1844-1879 probably declined, while Keana and Agwatashi-another Alago community – prospered. The establishment of the southern salt trades supplying the need in the Tiv ‘homeland’, directly accounted for some of Keana’s prosperity. However, it seems that if the Katsinawa at Awe suffered from Tiv interference, then the displaced Jukun living at Kekura must have also suffered.

The immigration into this region during the period c.1775-1805 accounted for the loss of political and economic position for the Jukun. The northern immigrants, specifically the Katsinawa, had seized political authority also meant a loss of economic advantage in the salt industry, but the Jukun still retained a vital skill required in the salt industry. In producing salt a large number of clay pots are required. [95] The skill for making these pots was never acquired by the ‘Hausa’, thereby leaving them dependent upon Jukun potters. Although the direct revenues from the salt industry were lost, the Jukun still managed to retain a vital secondary industry, and profited indirectly from the salt trade. [96] However, there was another importance to the Jukun pot making industry; a profitable sidelight that developed with the establishment of Tiv communities north of the river. In the mid-nineteenth century the brewing and sale of millet beer became a profitable Jukun industry. [97] At a point in Awe Local Government alone this industry generated substantial profit for the different entrepreneurs. Moreover, it would be naïve to think that this industry is only a recent innovation. Surely by c.1879 with the influx of a substantial and thirsty Tiv population, battering with cloth, livestock, metals, farm products, salt, chickens and possibly even slaves fostered the idea of breweries and the Jukun industry was born.

The Jukun population within the cultural and ethnic milieu of the northern middle Benue region seem to be the most diversified economically. Even though their political influence had been obviated by the Hausa immigration they managed to retain healthy economy. In this regard they probably have to thank the Tiv, specifically the Nongov sub-group, which seems to have supported Jukun existence and economic enterprise after c.1845. At the risk of sounding like a religious determinist, it does seem that the Iharev and Nongov Tiv sub groups could establish cooperative and equitable arrangements with fellow non-Muslims, while abhorring the sight of a Muslim. Possibly this factor, and the economic position of Jukun industry then, primarily dependent upon Tiv support, accounted for the slow progress of Islam among the Jukun. Certainly among the Alago, where economic conditions are now loss influenced by the Tiv, Islam has made deep inroads, but not so among the Jukun of Kekura. In other words, it may be possible to argue that the establishment of Iharev-Tiv and Nongov-Tiv settlements north of the Benue bolsters non-Muslim civilization and communities, even in the face of the jihadist activity. Both the Alago and Jukun have survived substantially as non-Muslims because of non-Muslim Tiv military success in this region, [98] a factor easily witnessed by the political and religious demography of Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. Although Lafia is a Muslim Emirate and forms the political centre of this modern unit, the population seems to be primarily non-Muslim. The multi-ethnic society of this region was not only drastically altered by the expansion of the two Tiv sub-groups, but it was also protected from a definite process of ‘Hausa-ization’ that would have occurred had the Iharev and Nongov Tiv sub groups been less successful in war and consolidation.

It would appear that the Jukun appreciated the cordial relationship that that existed between them and the Tiv. Consequently, it is on record that:

Zakanju built the present town of Wukari. The Munshi (Tiv) were friendly and came to salute him and he appointed one them, named Buryako to the office of “Agaiya”. Buryako was the first Munshi (Tiv) to accept an appointment from a Jukun chief. [99]

Furthermore, the Tiv people had not only expanded to Doma in pre-colonial period but had also played key role in protecting the entity against possible extinction by external attacks.

Commenting on this Temple wrote:

Keffi the neighbouring dependent of Zaria, called upon Doma to pay tribute to them, but the chief refused,….Keffi and Lafia joined together to war upon Doma, which became at the same time pray to the raiding expeditions of Makama Dogo of Nassarawa. Meanwhile their towns in the Munshi vicinage were likewise being sacked, and, in fact, little more than Doma town remained intact. In desperation Doma invited the assistance of the Munshi, and with their aid the besieging forces were routed. [100]

C.L. Temple has shown that there were inter-ethnic marriages that took place between the Tiv and the Jukun in pre-colonial period signifying the existence of harmonious relationship between the groups. [101] Tiv magico-religious rites or world view had been deeply influenced by those of their neighbours, particularly the Jukun. In the past the Tiv had a lot of reverence for magical activities or religious rites believed to have emanated from Waka (a Tiv corruption of Wukari). This shows that the groups must have interacted closely and cordially to have got proper understanding of such aspects of their Jukun neighbours.

Daryll Forde has credited the Bassa people with the introduction of the bow and poisoned arrows to the Tiv which became the people’s (Tiv) major weapons of war. [102] It is generally agreed that Tiv traditional political system was a decentralized one. However, before the advent of British colonialism, the institution of tor-agbande (drum chief) which symbolized a step towards the evolution of central authority had emerged. It appears that the tor-agbande has a foreign history. Some are of the view that it was borrowed from the Jukun while others argue that it was borrowed from the Etulo. Both groups are Tiv neighbours. Whether the institution was derived from the Jukun or Etulo people, what is important is the borrowing which indicates the existence of mutually beneficial and peaceful relations between the groups involved. [103] Of equal importance also, is the commercial relations that had existed between the Tiv and their Idoma neighbours in pre-colonial period. As shown by Okpeh:

Although raw data on the depth and scope of Idoma trading relations with their immediate neighbours are scanty, there is evidence that the people maintained a complex web of commercial contacts with the Hausa and the Alago to the North; the Igbo and Bekwarra to the south; the Tiv and Igede to the East; and the Igala, Bassa and Ebira to the west. [104]

From the foregoing, it clear that Tiv pre-colonial relations with her neighbours was not only characterized by conflicts but there were also areas of peaceful and mutually rewarding relations.

Figure 2: Map Showing Where Tiv and their Neighbours are Located in the Benue Valley

Source: Ministry of Lands and Survey, Makurdi

Conflict Management between the Tiv and their Neighbours in the Pre-Colonial period

Pre-colonial people or groups ventured into different areas of crops cultivation or production. Since both groups needed the crops of their neighbours which they could not produce themselves but needed the crops of each other they were always conscious of managing and regulating conflicts between or among themselves so as to benefit from each other. This factor of conflict managing mechanism of interdependence between groups assisted in checkmating conflicts between the Tiv and her neighbours in pre-colonial period. The above contention is strongly held by various people within the Tiv group and their neighbours. Among such people Emma-Lawson Hassan and Ortese Gbegi maintain that are closely related with the above that combined to act as strong mechanisms for keeping at day or in check. [105] According to them the factors are trade and commerce, diplomacy and socio-cultural interactions.

Commenting further, they emphasized that since the Tiv and their neighbours brought and sold in the same, local markets they could not allow conflicts among them to linger for too long as it prevent free flow of commercial and trading activities among them. It would appear that Okpeh was thinking along this view when he wrote:

One specific area this relationship manifested was in the sphere of trade. Although raw data on the depth and scope of Idoma trading relations with their immediate neighbours are scanty, there is evidence that the people maintained a complex web of commercial contacts with the Hausa and Alago to the North; the Igbo and Bekwara to the south; the Tiv and Igede to the east; and the Igala, the Bassa and Ebira to the west. [106]

Conflicts in the pre-colonial period were also managed by treaties and inter-group alliances. The factor of Tiv formation of alliances with their neighbours thereby fostering the goal of conflict management can be mentioned here. As shown above such alliance involving the Tiv and Alago of Keana, not only ensured peaceful co-existence between the two groups, but also guaranteed the prosperity of Alago communities of Agwatashi and Keana; in salt industry from C. 1844-1879. It has also been shown that conflict relations between the Tiv and Hausa had within the same period frustrated the Katsinawa monarchy’s attempt at fostering a large-scale northern trade.

Moreover, the people had high recorded cases of inter-group treaties and alliances during the pre-colonial period. Commenting on treaties and alliances as a form of conflict management between the Tiv and the Jukun, Obaro Ikime wrote:

In the fighting which resulted from the Quarrel the Jukun were coming off worse. They therefore called on their Tiv allies to come to their aid. The Tiv who saw the Hausas as rivals in trade welcomed the opportunity. This alliance ensured the success of the Jukun against the Hausa. [107]

Sargent also commenting on peaceful alliances between the Tiv and their neighbours in pre-colonial Nigeria wrote:

The Osama of Keana, Ozegya Adi utilized Tiv Iharev mercenaries in his attempted centralization of the Keana monarchy. In fact Ozegya Adi employed both Tiv mercenaries and agriculturalists to further the development of his state. [108]

Continuing, he stressed “Certainly the Alago concern over the growing strength of the Katsinawa was the reason behind the reaffirmation of the Tiv-Alago alliance.”[104] From these assertions one could rightly deduce that treaties and alliances were also vital in the management of conflict between the Tiv and their neighbours in the pre-colonial period.

Indigenous diplomacy was also employed as a veritable conflict management mechanism employed in the management of conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in pre-colonial period. By this, groups could allow other members of neighbouring groups to sit in council with them as representatives of such neighbouring groups so as to boost mutual confidence and ensure intergroup harmony. Mention has been made above where, in the 19th Century, the Aku Uka appointed Buryaikyo, a Tiv, Agaiya to sit in council with the Jukun in Wukari.

From the foregoing, it is discernible how the Tiv and their neighbours were able manage conflicts among themselves in pre-colonial period in the mutual interest of co-existence.

Endnotes

  1. P. Dawan, “Aspects of the Geography of Central Nigeria Area” in A. Idewes and Y. Ocheju (eds.), Studies in the History of Central Nigeria Area Vol. 1, Lagos, CSS, 2002, pp.3-4.
  2. This is deducted from the 1991 Population census figure placing the five states of Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi under consideration at the total of 9,825, 408.
  3. I. Ayua, “The Historic and Legal Roots of Conflicts in the Benue Valley”, T. Gyuese and Dr Ajene (eds.) Conflicts in the Benue Valley, Markudi, BSU Press, 2006, pp. 65-66.
  4. L.A. Moseley, “Regions of the Benue”. The Geographical Journal, Role, Dec. 1899, Vol. XIV, p.635.
  5. I. Ikpa, “A Political Economy of the Tiv Revolts 1850-1960,” M.A. Dissertation, Dept. of History, Uni-Jos, 1991, p.64.
  6. K.S. Agber, “Tiv Origins and Migrations: A Reconsideration”, Paper Presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the Archaeological Association of Nigeria, Minna, Niger State, 25th June – 1st July 1989, p.2.
  7. Swem is considered by most Tiv people as their original homeland. It is central to the Tiv in so many respects. See J.N. Orkar, “Swem: Tiv origins”, Benue Valley Project Papers (B.V.P.P.) no. 24, Dept. of History, Dalhausie University, Canada.
  8. D.C. Dorward, “A Social and Political Hisotry of the Tiv 1900-1939,” Ph.D Thesis, Dept. of History, University of London, 1971, p. 8.
  9. P.L. Bohannan, The Tiv of central Nigeria, London, Signey, 1969, p.12.
  10. It is difficult to offer a precise definition of the word Tar due to the so many and different applications of the term in Tiv. The word can be used for territory, country, land, or even the universe. Therefore, the country of Ikyurav-Ya, a subsection of the Tiv presently located in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.
  11. R. East (trans), Akiga’s Story, London, O.U.P., 1931, pp. 216-7.
  12. T. Makar, The History of Political and Social Change Among the Tiv in the 19th and 20th centuries, Enugu, Fourth Dimension, 1994, p.4.
  13. J. N. Orkar, “Pre-colonial History of the Tiv of central Nigeria C. 1500-1850, Ph.D Thesis, Dept. of History, Dalhousie,, Canada, 1979, p.134.
  14. J. Ballard, “Historical Inferences from the Linguistic Geography of the Nigerian Middle Belt”, Africa, XLI, 4, 1971, p. 298.
  15. J. Gbor, Mdugu U Tiv Man Ve Ken Benue, Zaria, Gaskiya, 1978.
  16. T. Makar, The History of Political and Social Change… p.4.
  17. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours, Jos, PLHA, 1992, p.10.
  18. J.N. Okar,”Pre-Colonial History…,” pp.153-4.
  19. J. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbous, p.10.
  20. J. Iyo, “Tiv Nationalism: and some Aspects of British Rule”, Dept. of History, Uni-Cal.,1989, p.46. However, considering the available historical evidence showing considerable Tiv Presence in the Benue Valley in the 18th century and the proximity, we find the 17th century to be much more realistic date for Tiv departure from their Swem homeland.
  21. T. Makar, The History of Political and Social change…, p.10.
  22. R. East (trans.), Akiga’s Story.
  23. E.O. Erim, “The Idoma-Alago-Yala People of Nigeria: an Historical Introduction”, in B.W. Awah, Some Nigerian Peoples, Ibadan, Rex Charles, 1993, pp.159-160.
  24. M. Hamman, “The Rise and Fall of the Emirate Muri (Hamaruwa) C. 1812- 1903,” Ph.D Thesis, Dept. of History, A.B.U., 1993.
  25. E. de C. Duggan, “Notes on the Munshi (“Tivi” )Tribe of Northern Nigeria”, Journal of the African Society, Vol. 31, 1932. p.180.
  26. This is evident in many works, see for instance ibid, p. 174.; Benue Valley project papers by R.A. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv: Migration, war and societal Transformation and “The Tiv-Hausa war: The Combat and the Combatants 1850-1879”, B.V. P.P. Dept. of History, Dalhousie University, Canada.
  27. Ede C. Duggan, “Notes on the Munshi…,” p. 174; R. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv…”.
  28. S. Abubakar, “Peoples of the Upper Benue Basin and the Bauchi Plateau before 1800” in O. Ikime, (ed.), Groundwork of Nigerian History, Ibadan, Heinemann, 1980, p176.
  29. N.A.K. S.N.P.17/8K2441Vol.1 Jukuns of Wukari Historical & A nthropological Noteson, Notes by Mr Palmer.
  30. H. R. Palmer’s Introduction to C.K. Meek, A Sudanese Kingdom: An Ethnological study of the Jukun speaking, peoples of Nigeria, London, 1931 and S. Kiyoshi, “Comparative Jukunoid: A Preliminary Survey”, Ph.D Thesis, Dept. of History, University of Ibadan, 1971.
  31. C.K. Meek, A Sudanese Kingdom…, pp.17-18.
  32. M. Ruadm “The Jukun: An example of African Migrations in the Sixteenth Century”, Bulletin de I.I.F.N., XXII, Ser. B., 1960, p.481.
  33. C.L. Temple (ed.), Tribes, Provinces, Emirates and…, p.173.
  34. M. Riad, “The Jukun…”, p.481.
  35. Ibid., p.481.
  36. Ibid., p..480.
  37. S. Kiyoshi, “Comparative Jukunoid…”
  38. H.R Palmer, Introduction to Meek, PP. XX-XXI. Johnny de Mevlomeester in his article, “Cord-rou letters from Kororofa (Nigeria), West African Journal of Archaeology, 5, 1975, p. 211. He maintains that the botton layers of Kororoya city (Biepi) had been dated by radio carbon method as from 1450-1650.
  39. R.A. Sargent, Economics, Politics and Social Change in the Benue Basin C. 1300-1700, Enugu, Fourth Dimension, 1999, p.218.
  40. E. de C. Duggan, “Notes on the Munshi…”, p.180.
  41. R.A. Sargent, Economics, Politics and…, p.218.
  42. The Province comprised other ethnic groups like Idoma, Igala and the Bassa with Capt. C.F. Rowe as its first Resident,. See D.D. Yongo, “The Administration of Tivland 1914,” M.A. Dissertation, Dept. of History, U.N.N. 1988, p.95.
  43. R.A. Sargent, Economics, Politics and …, p. 213.
  44. Ibid., p.213.
  45. S. Abubakar, “Peoples of the Upper Benue Basin…”, p.170.
  46. M. Hamman, “The Rise and Fall of…”
  47. Ibid.
  48. S. Abubakar, Peoples of the Upper Benue.., “p.168.
  49. Ibid., p. 168.
  50. S. Kioshi, “Comparative Jukunoid”
  51. S. Abubakar, “Peoples of the Upper Benue…”, p. 170.
  52. R.A. Sargent, Economics, Politics and…, p. 232.
  53. E.O. Erim, Idoma Nationality 1600-1900: Problems of Studying the Development of Ethnicity, Enugu, Fourth Dimension 1981, p.4
  54. O.O. Okpeh, “Origin, Migrations and Settlement of the Idoma”, Y. A. Ochefu et al, A History of the Peoples of Benue State, Makurdi, Aboki, 2007, p. 57.
  1. S. Crowther, and J.F. Schon, Journal of an Expedition up to the Niger and Tsadda Rivers, 1991, Church Mission House, 1855, P.66.
  2. R. G. Armstrong cited in Ochefu et al, A History of the Peoples…, p.57.
  3. J.N. Ukwedeh, “The “Akpoto” Phenomenon in the History of the Niger-Benue Confluence Area: A Review of Evidence”, a Paper Presented at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Seminar, A. B.U., Zaria, 1986, p.22.
  4. P. E. Okwori, A Short History of Igala, Ilorin, Matanmi Press, 1973.
  5. O.O. OKpeh, “Origin, Migrations and…” in Ochefu et al, A History of the …, p.60.
  6. W.B. Baikie, Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Niger and Benue, London, John Murray, 1854, pp.286-7.
  7. E.O. Erim, The Idoma Nationality… p.6.
  8. For example see H.R. Palmer, ‘The Kano Chronicle’, Journal of Royal Anthropologial Institute,Vol. 38, 1928, C.K. Meek, A Sudanese Kingdom: An Ethnographical Study of the Jukun-Seaking peoples of Nigeria, London, Kegan Paul, 1931; M. Riad, ‘The Jukun: An Example of an African Migrations in the Sixteenth Century’, Bullentin de I.F.A.N., T. XXII, Ser B. Nos 3-4, 1964, pp.467-485; E.O. Erim, The Idoma Nationality…
  1. See E.O. Erim’s The Idoma Nationality…
  2. E.O. Erim, The Idoma Nationality… p. 23.
  3. Ibid., p. 23.
  4. N. Aboki, And the Innocent Die, the People, their land and Politics, Jos, S. Evans, 2004. p. 15.
  5. A. Obayemi “States and peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence Area, in O. Ikime (ed), Groundwork…, p.161.
  1. N. A.K. S.N.P. 10/712P/1915
  2. Ibid.
  3. R.A. Sargent “The Northern Tiv… p.2.
  4. Ibid., p.2.
  5. Ibid,. pp. 7 – 8.
  6. E. O. Erim, “The Idoma – Alago –Yala People,” p. 60,
  7. Interview with Orfega Akosu, Farmer, 59 yrs, Awe, 19-7-2013.
  8. Interview with Igbabee Akpusugh, farmer, 61yrs, Awe, 19-7-2013
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. R.A. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv…”
  12. This is Sargent’s view in Ibid. However, according to Adullahi Dalhatu the Katsinawa had arrived Awe long before this date. Interview with Abdullahi Dalhatu, Chiroma (District Head) of Awe, 56 yrs, Awe, 5-1-2014.
  13. R.A. Sargent, “the Northern Tiv…,” p. 17.
  14. Interview with Tsavmbu Koko, Farmer, 68 yrs, Arve, 22-4-2013.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. A.C Unomah, “Salt production and Trade in Awe in the Nineteenth century”, Dept. of History, University of Ibadan, Benue Valley Project paper No 2.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Interview with Debam Ornguga, Farmer, 64 yrs, Awe, 22-4-2013: and Nongo Baja, farmer, 62 yrs, Awe, 22-4-2013.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid. This is the thinking of the Tiv of this area. Nowithstanding Tiv sub-groups outside this area were at about this time undergoing societal transformation due to their interation with other neighbours.
  25. A.C. Unomah, “Salt Production and trade in Awe”
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. R.A. Sargent, “The Northem Tiv…, p. 26.
  29. Ibid., p.27.
  30. Interview with D. Ornguga and N. Gafa.
  31. R.A. Sergeant, “The Northern Tiv….”, p. 29.
  32. Muri Province document p. 38.
  33. C.L. Templel, Tribes, Provinces, Emirates and…, p. 514.
  34. Ibid., p. 174.
  35. D. Forde (ed), Peoples of the Middle Niger Region, p. 75.
  36. For argument on this, see T. Makar, The History of Political Change…,pp.122-124.
  37. O.O. Okpeh, Origins, Migrations and…p.70.
  38. Interview with Emma-Lawson Hassan, Lecturer, 54, Wukari, 14/2/2015 O. Gbegi, Former G.L.O., Gboko L.G.A., Gboko.
  39. O.O. Okpeh, Origin, Migrations and…,p.70.
  40. O. Ikime, “The British Pacification…”, p.104.
  41. R. Sargent, “The Northern Tiv…”, p.27.

 

CHAPTER THREE

BRITISH COLONIALISM AND THE CHANGING EVENTS IN THE BENUE VALLEY, 1900-1949

The British Colonial Rule in the Benue Valley Area, 1900

Under the Royal Niger company rule from 1861 to1899, in what subsequently became colonial Nigeria, the area of study had not really been traversed or brought under colonial rule. In spite of some few European exploratory voyages of the 1850s and 1870s across the area led by William Baikie and Adolpho Burdo respectively, the area remained substantially unexplored and unknown to the European merchants. [1]

However, following the revocation of the Royal Charter granted the Royal Niger Company by the British crown for the governance of what later became known as Nigeria on the 31st of December 1899, and the Crown’s decision to directly administer the area as contained in its (the Crown) Proclamation of 1st January 1900, the area was brought under British colonial rule. But as shown in various instances, such British proclamation and declaration were differently interpreted or understood by respective Nigerian peoples. Some were even ignorant of the declaration. That notwithstanding, they had to be subjugated by whatever means, forceful or peaceful submission to the British colonial authority. [2]

Therefore, the imposition of colonial rule in the Benue Valley was achieved through the successful British conquest of the area. While this contention is generally valid for the entire region, the period of subjugation and imposition of colonial rule as well as the method or nature of conquest of the respective groups in the region differed. [3] In some areas of the region, certain groups such as the Jukun did not resist British colonial invasion. Indeed, evidence abounds indicating Jukun welcome of the development and cooperation with the foreign invaders. But the reason for such compromise is not far-fetched. The people had, prior to the advent of the British, faced a lot of harassment from some groups within and outside the Benue valley such that their survival as a group was in great doubt.

It is in line with this that a commentator on this issue posits:

The town of Wukari led a precarious existence due to Filani attacks from Muri, culminating in a siege about the year 1840, during which the local munshis helped in its defence. …but on the advent of the Royal Niger company, Wukari took the first opportunity to assert its independence and remained loyal to the new order of things. [4]

Similarly, colonial records support this contention thus:

…by the time of the arrival of the British the Jukun Empire, which was rumoured once to have streached from Bornu to the sea, had dwindled to little more than the town of Wukari and its immediate environs. Harassed by exacting Fulani overlords at Muri to the north east, threatened by the Chamba to the south east, and encroached on by the expanding Tiv tribe to the south and west, the position of this shrunken remnant was both unhappy and precarious. But for the advent of the British indeed it seem more than probable that it would have ceased altogether to have existed as a political entity.It was owing to the Royal Niger Company…that the domination of the Fulani never reached its climax in the overthrow of the Jukun capital. [5]

However, other groups in the region showed remarkable disapproval of such foreign encroachment and resisted it vehemently; nevertheless, they had to give in to the British superior military might. These include the Angas and other groups within the lower and upper plateau. [6] But in the situation where the above scenario was not tenable owing to the peoples’ non-cooperation and successful prolonged defiance of the British military assault, as in the case of the Tiv, diplomatic conquest was resorted to. For a better understanding of the policy of diplomatic conquest of the Tiv group ther is need to illustrate briefly or present baground to the previous colonial attempt at the conquest of the Tiv grou. Following the Bristish government’s decision to govern ‘Nigeria’ directly rather than through the chatterd Royal Niger Company, the charter was withdrawn on the 31st December, 1899, thus marking the end of company rule in the geopolitical entity latter to be known as Nigeria.

Hence, on the 1st of January, 1900 the British crown declased protectorate over the area. Consequently, Frederick (later Lor Lugatd) was appointee to govern the northern part of the protectorate wher the Benue Valley Region was located. During this period it became apparent to Lord Lugard and inded, the colonial office in London that in spite of the declaration of protectorate over Northern Nigeria with a supposed unquestionable authority of her majesty over the area some of the nationalities like the Tiv still considered themselves independent of the British Crown. Hence, steps were taken from 1900-1906 to forcefully or militarily subduce and incorporate the people into the British colonial empire.  [7]

To this end, a Lugardian theory of brutal militarism as an only and necessary weapon for the conquest of the ‘dishonest’ Tiv people was religiously and aggressively pursued from 1900-1906. For, as Lugard had pointedout that the Tiv “Would not comprehend anything other than the language of force and severe chastisement”. [8]

But as R. Sargent has correctly observed, the Tiv were not receptive to a lesson handed out from the muzzle of a maxim gun and stubbornly refused to submit to Bristish authority, preparing and resistance. [9] Therefore, the period spanning from 1900-1906, Anglo-Tiv relations remained strained, intermittently culminating in violent military confrontations. Indeed, in 1904, the poverty of brutal militarism as an inevitable waspon for the conquest of Tivland could not be hidden any longer in the face of continued effective resistance leading to the proclaimation of unsettled district status over Tivland. [10]

This eventually momentarily threw the area into an administrative limbo.But in 1905, in spite of the unsettled district proclaimation, interest in Tivland was rekindled by an imaginative account of the economic potentialities of the area, particularly its alledged rubber, wory and mineral wealth. [11]

According to these colonial accounts, Tivland was considered the richest in termy of mineral resources in the whole of Northern Nigeria protectorate. 12 It was believed that when conquered, the area would solve, not only the fiscal problem of the protectorate, but also, the manpower needs of such labour intensive projects like the railway construction building of bridges, mining of minerals; and indeed the provision of able bodies men for military service, in view of the peoples physical strength, diligence, valour and martial tradition. Based on this conviction the desire to attempt to bring the Tiv people under effective colonial administration once more became an unavoidable templation.

However, there was a change of baton in the metropolitan government ushering in a liberal government with Lord Elgin as the new secretary of State for the colonies. The official policy of the new government with respect to the Tiv was that of diplomatic option as a necessary and effective weapon for the conquest of the people. And, although, this would have marked the termination of violent military confrontations in the history of imperial conquest of Tivland were it not for the Abinsi incident of 1906 leading to the outbreak of hospitalities and brutal military confrontation between the colonical authorities and the Tiv people. [13] However, after the incident, adequate measures were taken by the colonical office to avert future violent confrontation with the Tiv.

Therefore, later 1906 to early 1907 Wallace who acted for Percy Girouard as High Commissioner, of Northern Nigeria when the latter was away attempted to secure permission form the Colonial Office to send a military expedition against the people was flatly rebuffed by the Secretaty of State for the Colonies:

I desire that no outrage or aggression on the part of the natives should be tolerated but your government should also abstain from any action which may constitute an aggression or a cause of grievance to native tribes. [14]

Moreover, the Secretary further instructively warned that:

With the Munshi (Tiv), I can only urge going slowly and administratively, rather than by too much show of force,… the obsolute avoidance of hostilities or forcible entry is essential to success. [15]

There could be some other reasons that accounted for the new change of thinking in the colonial office. It should be noted that the office and some members of parliament had by this time began to question the wisdom of continued rising expenditure on military expeditions which had no economic benefits accruing to them but rather met with stiffer armed resistance from the people. Logically, this was quite antithetical to the under-pinning philosophy of colonialism (maximum human and material exploitation of colonies at the barest possible minimum imputs).

Also it could be that, these men felt that such money so expended could have been better used for the provision or improvement of amenities for British citizens. Certainly, this type of unprofitable development would not be allowed to continue unchecked by seasoned imperial policy-makers. It is possible too that, there may have been a serious feeling of guilt for the continued bloodshed in Tivland. Hence there was need to avoid further military expeditions that would do nothing other than meet stiffer confrontation from a seemingly uncompromising people, culminating in further bloodshed and mass destruction of resources that would have been tapped by the imperialists under a peaceful atmosphere.

Therefore, all these combined may have given birth to the new philosophy (non-voilent gradualist penetration or conquest) for the conquest of the people (Tiv).

In 1906 Lugard resigned as the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria. He was succeeded by Percy Girouard under whom the new philosophy was diligently pursued. Despite the intructions of the Secretary of Statefor the colonies highlighted above, it seems to that the new High Commissioner (Girouard) and his essistants had become convinced of the probability of the workability of the new policy. As such brutal military men were no longer needed for this new task.

Rather, political officers with diplomatic acumen were necessary for it. This was exemplified in the Annual Report of the Resident for Muri province. U.F. Ruxton, when he wrote:

From the experience gained I am convinced that with political officers of tact and experience,… the whole of Munshi Country can be brought into line and administered without the necessity of formal military expeditions. [16]

Thus, Lord Elgin’s reply of January 4, 1907 rejecting Wallace’s military campaign in favour of a policy of gradual occupation based on Katsina-Ala eventually led to the adoption of Gardon’s proposl. It should be noted that in October 1906, C.F Gordon, an officer who was later to play a reat role in “Opening up” Tivland had submitted a formal request to the political department at Zungeru, the precursor of the Northern Nigeria Secretariat, for permission to patrol the Tiv area east of the Katsina-Ala River, establish a post at Katsina-Ala, and open a dry season road connecting the proposed station with Wukari. Not withstanding his brilliant argument, Gordon’s recommendations were not well received by Wallace, the High Commissioner. Consequently, Gordon’s request was set aside with a marginal notation by Wallace that the matter would be dealt with when the area could be traversed by “a large force”.

But with this sanction form the Colonial office the peaceful penetration of Tivland began in earnest. Hence, in 1907 Gordon, having cultivatd the friendship of some Tiv people at Wukari came to have useful information about the Tiv people which aided him in his task of diplomatic conquest of the people. It was on the basis of this information that he came to know about some influential people in Tivland through whom he successfully accomposhed his task.

In his contribution on this issue, D.C. Dorward observed that Gordon had availed himself of the opportunity offered by contact with the Tiv near Wukari to gain a closer understanding of their custom which was now put to effective use. This is because, according to him, friendly Tiv intermediaries were asked to intercede with their matrilineal knsmen or Igba, calm their fears as to the intentions of the approaching Patrol, and persuade the patriachs lineage territory.

And when the patrol arrived therefore their object was known, suspicion had been previously allayed by the exercise of tact, patience, and an interminable amount of talking the force been properly introduced and was accompanied bythe headman of the faction. [17]

Through this process therefore, Gordon, accompanied by a small escort, gradually advanced southwest from Wukari. And by April 1907, he had penetrated as far as Katsina-Ala, where an administrative headquarters and garrision were established. Hence Dorward using colonial documents concluded just as the documents did that:

Without having fired a single shot, the first step had been taken in the “opening up” of Tivland. [18]

According to Makar, the penetration of the Tiv country was carried out in three phases beginning from 1907 to 1911 witnessed the penetration of all the regions on the southern and eastern banks of the Benue and Katsina-Ala. Further more, the penetration of the Southern districts was in to distination phases, and that the north of the Benue took place about 1910-1914. By 1914, he conluded, as it has ben generally agreed by almost all historians on Tiv history that, almost all the ityar in Tiv has been brought under minimal control of the British. [19]

Makar agrees that the first phase of penetration was peaceful with very minimal employment of force. He submits that through the gradual and diplomatic penetration of Tivland via some influenctial Tiv people by British officers such as U.F Ruxton and Gordon British rule was gradually established.

These efforts, as he clearly noted, were evident in the foundation of colonial bases in the new Katsina-Ala in 1907 and Abinsi in 1909 which became the principal bases for further colonical penetration of Tivland. [20] However, there was the danger of the existence of ill-feeling leading to unfriendliness and blackmail on the part of the colonial administration as in the case of the Tiv people.

The British colonial officials tried to establish structures over the Benue valley region to enhance colonial trade and exploitation of the area from January 1900. It was in the course of attempting to achieve this that the British colonial agents encountered the Tiv, a people who were reputed to have cherished their independence over a period of time and were not ready to relinquish it. Thus, they mounted spirited and prolonged resistance against British colonial occupation of their land. And as will be seen later in this work, it was in 1914 that the Tiv were brought under effective British colonial conquest and administration through peaceful and diplomatic method, following the failure of brutal military attempt to conquer the area. The Tiv conquest was based on the adoption of the diplomatic option which was resorted to, from 1907, following the failure of brutal military force so advocated by the first High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria, Lord F.D. Lugard.

The Tiv resistance against colonial encroachment within this period and some similar episodes during company epoch brought a lot of colonial bitterness against the Tiv leading to certain damaging stereotypes created by the colonial officials. Though, the colonial stereotypes were mainly unfounded, curiously however, some of them have endured till date.

Duggan found the stereotypes at variance with his own understanding of the people and averred thus:

One of the most striking features of the average Munshi is his Kindness and what may be described as a genial bonhomie; and these characteristics are so common and so widespread and so ordinary found that one wonders on what grounds and with what justification the Munshi has been considered both by the native Africans and Europeans equally to be immoral, cruel, treacherous, savagely uncouth and barbarous; for all these epithets have been applied to the Munshi at one time or other. [21]

For one to be able to carry out a meaningful historical analysis of the issues involved in order to arrive at a balanced conclusion one has to look at such issues as the real intentions of British colonialism and the nature of people involved.

It is a well known fact that economic motive more than any other accounted for British colonization of Nigeria and other African countries. Because of this, trade and taxation, occupied a cardinal place in the colonial vigorous attempt at occupying foreign lands. Tiv resistance to colonial conquest and occupation was really obstructing colonial economic interest in the region. While other groups that were passive to colonial occupation were adjudged as being good, civilized and whose qualities must be extolled and emulated, the Tiv were blackmailed. This can be seen in the received literature on the Tiv. It will also be seen within the same colonial accounts how the colonial administration sounded positively whenever, the Tiv people accepted colonial occupation with its accompanying agents of trade and taxation.

The Tiv action and war of attrition can be seen in the following passage:

British occupation of the Tiv country was spread over many years. Although the first clash between the two parties occurred as early as 1900, it cannot be said that British occupation was complete or effective until about 1914. The explanation for this lies in the fact that the Tiv are a decentralized or fragmented society organized on a lineage or down basis. There were thus very many Tiv groups and villages each of which was independent of the next and each of which had to protect itself against any possible encroachment…22

It is also postulated that similar Tiv independent and dogged resistance were exhibited during the nineteenth century Uthman Dan Fodio jihad. Ikime avers that:

The Tiv were among those who were not converted to Islam as an immediate consequence of the jihad…they could only do this because they were tough fighters who acquired a reputation for maintaining their independence against all comers for most of their history…The Tiv also had to be able to withstand the slave raids organized by the various emirates against their infidel (non-muslim) neighbours. The evidence available suggests that the Tiv were able to do this. Various factors the logic of their socio-political institutions and the menace of their neighbours, especially the Sokoto caliphate – thus made the Tiv into redoubtable warriors known for their poisoned arrows and their courage. [23]

He also further asserted that:

The first clash of arms between the British and the Tiv occurred as a consequence of the British crossing of Tiv territory for the purpose of constructing this telegraph line. Lugard sent a telegraph construction party under a military escort into Tiv territory. Existing works on the British conquest never sufficiently stress the shock and irritation that our peoples must have felt at the violation of their territories by the imperialist. Take the Tiv example. To have suddenly observed strangers surveying their land, to have seen these background soldiers armed with rifles or more deadly weapons must have filled them with great anger and fear. Lugard apparently thought that since in January 1900, he had proclaimed a British protectorate over Northern Nigeria, there was no need for him to get in contact with the various peoples for the purpose of explaining to them why certain things – like the construction of a telegraph line – had to be done. After all was he not the representative of her Britannic Majesty? For the Tiv, a people with a reputation for fiercely maintaining their independence. Lugard’s act was tantamount to a declaration of war. They responded by launching an attack on the telegraph party, killing three and wounding Captain Easton, the commanding officer, and ten others. Captain Easton was forced to retreat. [24]

Thereafter, Lord Lugard organized a heavy counter offensive to avenge the previous Tiv attacks. This was done and heavy casualty was recorded on the side of the Tiv. Nevertheless, this was not the end. Rather, it was just the beginning of intermittent mutual armed military confrontations between the two protagonists which lasted until 1906. Following the eventual resignation of Lord Lugard as the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria in 1906 and the appointment, in 1907, of his substantive successor, Sir Percy Girouard, the new philosophy was diligently pursued. It is important to observe that apart from the new spirit in the Colonial Office, the new High Commissioner and his assistants were convinced about the workability of the new policy. This can be seen in the Annual Report of the Resident of Muri Province, U.F. Ruxton, during the period. He wrote:

From the experience gained I am convinced that with political officers of tact and experience… the whole of Munshi country can be brought into line and administered without the necessity of formal military expeditions. [25]

With the addition of the new diplomatic initiative based on peaceful penetration of Tivland in 1907, the area gradually but eventually fell to the British imperialists. Indeed, historians on Tiv history are of the general view that by 1914 it can be conveniently accepted that the Tiv had actually been brought under effective British colonial administration. It thus appears that the success recorded was monumental and indeed overwhelmed the colonial administrative officers that one may permit Dorward’s seeming exaggeration on the matter that “Without having fired a single shot, the first step had been taken in the “opening up” of Tiv land.”26 But, because of the aggressive, violent and persistent manner the Tiv had reacted against British colonialism, the mindset of the latter was negatively made up regarding the Tiv and vice versa regarding those other groups that had readily accepted British colonialism as will be seen. Moreover, the Tiv traditional socio-political system with its egalitarian nature did not really allow for the British prefared traditional political system of centralized polities of the Hausa/Fulani and the Jukun groups which was suitable for indirect administration and quite amenable to exploitation and therefore, together with the groups highly favoured by the colonial administration. Moreover, the Tiv traditional socio-political system with its egalitarian nature did not allow for the British colonial administration’s desired indirect rule system. It was the traditional political system of cenrtalised polities like those of the Hausa/Fulani and the Jukun, among others, which was amenable to exploitation that the colonial administration favoured.

Colonial Administrative Policies and Inter-group Conflicts in the Benue Valley under the

British Colonial Rule

As noted earlier, before the advent of British colonialism the boundaries of the cultural groups of the Benue valley region were generally fluid. Therefore, it was difficult, and nearly impossible, for the early colonial administration to demarcate administrative boundaries based on traditional, historical or genealogical affinities of the respective ethnic groups within the region. Therefore, although there may have been various motives informing colonial creation of administrative boundaries, it is clear, in this case that the early colonial administration created boundaries in this region without recourse to traditional affinities of respective groups of the region. In creating administrative units in this region, a group was sometimes split into two or more administrative entities.

In acknowledging that the Tiv people were split into three provincial boundaries of Northern Protectorate with another part left in the Southern Protectorate in the early period of colonial administration, Sir Percy Girouard, High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria protectorate, wrote in a memorandum of 3rd October, 1907 that:

The Munshi (Tiv) tribes are at present divided amongst three of the Northern Nigerian provinces; Bassa, Nasarawa and Muri and are also spread over a considerable area of Southern Nigeria contiguous with the province of Muri. [27]

Notwithstanding that the above situation was clearly captured by the early colonial administration, certain developments during the later period led to the subsequent formulation of colonial administrative policies which sought to alter or modify the status-quo. These developments included the later colonial administration’s attempt to create rigid administrative boundaries based on cultural boundaries, desperate attempt at resuscitating the erstwhile imaginary Kingdom of Kwararafa, the introduction and false application of  “indigene”/”settler” concepts, among other things, thereby creating and nuturing inter-ethnic conflicts. Indeed, this development has not only led to the sowing of the seed of discord and friction between the Tiv and their neighbours in the colonial period but has remained a source of perennial armed conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours in post-colonial Nigeria.

Tiv conflicts with their neighbours also emanated from the failure of the British colonial administration to recognize the Tiv as dominant and indigenous to most of those areas the administration had found them (Tiv) at the time of British occupation. Moreover, because the Tiv had no recognized chiefs, the administration even appointed non-Tiv as chiefs over Tiv people and land. [28] Of course, the nature of Tiv settlement pattern which was that of scattered homesteads into the bush for farming purposes made it easy for the colonial administration to do this. The traditional political system of the Tiv which was not a centralized type, lacking kingship institution also made it easy for the administration to do this. However, during the period, there emerged a sharp disagreement between the British colonial administrative officers in Northern Nigeria regarding the administrative policies affecting the Tiv and their neighbours, culminating in the fragmentation of the officers along lines of emirate school and that of the Tiv. [29]

The officers of the emirate school were essentially drawn from those that had, due to long period of service in emirate polities, came to admire such centralized political system as representing a “civilized” form of administration. Moreover, it could also be that the officers were motivated by imperialistic passion to appreciate such emirate polities due to the areas’ possession of essential elements for the indirect system of administration. It is well known that the British colonial authority had favoured this system as it apparently served its parochial capitalistic and imperialistic objective. The officers of the emirate school include, among others, H.R. Palmer and J.M.Fremantle. [30]

Indirect rule system as an administrative policy also laid the foundation for crisis between the Tiv and their neighbours. The choice of the Hausa-Fulani traditional political system which was centralized in nature and therefore allows for indirect policy of administration was alien to the Tiv but practiced by most of their neighbours in the past. Its consequent imposition on the Tiv which did not represent the traditional political system and temperament of the Tiv caused some ripples between the Tiv and their neighbours in the region. This system (indirect rule) was successfully applied to other groups in the region. This is because the system was not strange to such groups as they had been brought under the Sokoto caliphate by the activities of Usman dan Fodio jihadist the previous century. Hence, such groups had accepted the Hausa/Fulani administrative system with its concomitant implications-including Hausa-Fulani overlordship or hegemony. The Tiv however, successfully resisted the Sokoto jihadist expansionism and were free from its dominance and the administrative structures of the emirate feudal system in pre-colonial period. Commenting on this O. Ikime wrote:

…the Tiv were outside the Sokoto Caliphate as is well known, one of the most important nineteenth century events in what became Northern Nigeria was the Jihad of Usman dan Fodiye. The leaders of the Jihad and their successors did their best to spread Islam to most of Northern Nigeria. The Tiv were among those who were not converted into Islam as an immediate consequence of the Jihad. To say this is to say that the Tiv successfully organized themselves for survival in the face of militant Islam. They could only do this because they were tough fighters who acquired a reputation for maintaining their independence against all comers for most of their hstory. [31]

Though some ethnic groups within the region may have accepted Hausa-Fulani overlordship with all the implications, the Tiv case was different. Hence, the validity of Akiga’s observation that:

Many things which appear to a Tiv as intolerable acts of oppression are accepted by the Hausa or Jukun as the rightful privileges of a chief, and cases of individual injustice are suffered without complaint as unavoidable concomitants of an institution which has the support of the community, and confers much reciprocal benefit. [32]

But with the advent of British colonialism, colonial administrators of the emirate school, both at the provincial and regional levels, worked assiduously to alter this situation to the detriment of the Tiv, thereby creating ethnic tension within the region.

The possible reason accounting for the attitude of the officers of the emirate school has also been suggested. [33] In 1914 Hon. Charles Temple was appointed Ag. Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Provinces, while, John Morton Fremantle assumed the position of Resident of Muri Province. When the two assumed leadership in their respective areas, they did not hide their hatred for, and bias against the Tiv group. On the other hand they indicated their love for and preference to centralized polities that represented emirate system. In this regard, the officers were prepared to alter the previous structures which they assumed to be favourable to the Tiv group. This spirit was demonstrated in their attempt at resuscitating the Kwararafa kingdom, which they held was a Jukun kingdom, at the expense of the Tiv group.

Accordingly, Fremantle had observed that:

I found when I came to the province in 1914 that the view that had been reluctantly but finally accepted was that the Jukun were a decadent race and it was no use making any further attempt to bolster them up. [34]

However, he believed that although the Jukun appeared to be ‘decadent’ he

…would like a further effort to be made to save Wukari from disintegration. There are a number of Jukun administrative Islands in Munshi sea; a few of these are still under Wukari, and I should like to see them remain so, to see the Munshi’s (Tiv) who have come in between owe allegiance to Wukari as was the case at first. There are not so many of them there, and some limit must be set to Munshi (Tiv) expansion which is based on bad rather than good agricultural considerations. [35]

Resident Fremantle therefore quoted with approval from Colonel Foulkes on the Jukun:

The Jukun had been ruling race for centuries and have a history of at least 700 years. Bygone Jukun kings have wielded as much power as any Fulani ruler. The instinct to rule probably cannot have died out of the blood of the ruling caste but is merely lying dormant to be brought to life and vigour again under our guidance. [36]

He reasoned that if one kept telling the Jukun they are a ‘dying race’ it could have a depressing effect and self-fulfilling prophecy. If, on the other hand, they were treated sympathetically and an emphasis placed on their past achievements they might rise to the occasion. [37] He considered that their complex religion made ‘them the most interesting ‘tribe’ in the Northern provinces. [38] Fremantle had hoped for the creation of a Jukun land free from Tiv interference, with the Aku enjoying an unchallenged supremacy over his subjects. However, because of the outbreak of the First World War further initiatives were postponed.

In 1914, the Tiv districts in the Southern provinces were transferred to Muri province, forming a larger Munshi Division. The idea of creating a Munshi province had been mooted in that year but was postponed because of the war until 1917.39 At that time, Fremantle resisted the transfer of Ibi Division to the new Munshi province and argued that since the Tiv had overrun nearly the whole of Wukari, surrounding Jukun villages and refusing to accept the authority of the Aku Uka:

The best solution seemed to be to give the Munshi’s (Tiv) concerned a year notice to quit, meantime to give them facilities to choose new settlements in the districts from which they came. There is plenty of room and they are accustomed to move-only too much so there should be no difficulty. The population so migrating will be about 2,000. [40]

Consequently, Fremantle tried to resolve the issue of massive Tiv presence in Wukari by ordering them to withdraw south and West of Akwana, Arufu and Wukari behind what was referred to as the “Gordon line”, supposedly representing the limits of Tiv penetration of Wukari as perceived by Gordon thereby “leaving Jukun land open for Jukun development”. [41] This policy became known as the “ring fence policy”. In 1917, this policy was extended to areas around Takum where, in his opinion, the Tiv had begun to farm lands after the coming of colonial rule. [42]

Resident Fremantle was enthusiastic on the success of this policy as was captured in his annual report for the year 1917:

Dealing with them has been tried and proved unsatisfactory and I determined on this solution to a question which has been troublesome for over 20 years. They are about 2,000 in population, but they are used to moving the houses every few years and I hear the migration is taking place without trouble… I am extremely glad that it has been settled before the separation of Munshi (Tiv) province (i.e creation of Munshi province). My hope is that the land so set free may become peopled with Jukuns and eventually it may be possible to reduce the number of districts. [43]

Although by 1918, a large number of Tiv had been evicted from Ibi division, however the policy was bound to fail. This is because the policy was not anchored on historical reality but on sentimental instincts and dream for the forceful creation of a perceived Jukun land. However, pre-colonial historical evidence abounds refuting such claims by Fremantle and other British colonial officers of the emirate school regarding the perception of articulately defined boundaries existing between the cultural groups within this region. However, we will not go into that here as it has been treated above. Except that we may be permitted to add that another colonial officer who endeavoured to examine the pre-colonial history of this region with respect to the so-called Jukun land submitted in 1907 thus:

Wukari practically only consists of the walled town of that name, with its 2,500 inhabitants, a few outlying villages, Arufu with its galena mines, Akwana, and a few other small villages west of Wukari, all leading a precarious existence among their Munshi neighbours. All the villages on the left bank of the Benue, and one or two on the right, between Ibi and the boundary of Bassa Province, are Jukun, but much mixed with Munshi, to whom they are in the position of serf. [44]

In spite of this, what mattered to the colonial administration was the creation of Jukun land with strongly defined geo-political boundaries devoid of Tiv elements. It is therefore not surprising that when Munshi Province was created in 1918, Fremantle successfully opposed the inclusion of Wukari in the new province because he believed that the Jukun would be hopelessly outnumbered by the predominantly Tiv population in the new province. Moreover, he also successfully opposed the redrawing of the Wukari boundary so the Gordon line became the provincial boundary. He remained optimistic about the future development of the Jukun political system in the absence of the Tiv, and he believed ‘the instincts of rule cannot have bred out of the ruling class but is merely lying dormant to be brought to life and vigour under our guidance’. [45] However Fremantle departed before he could make proposals to revitalize the Jukun administration.

The so called ‘ring fence’ policy was to be short-lived as the Tiv soon filtered back to those territories that they had been evicted. The new Munshi Province was headed by Captain Rowe, a colonial officer of the Tiv school of thought of colonial officers who was anti ring fence policy. However he seems to have been reluctant at first to challenge Fremantle, who was his superior. Fremantle, having spent the whole of World War 1 in Muri Province departed and was replaced by Acting Resident Duff. Hence, following the difficulty of sustaining the “ring fence policy” a basis for a compromise was worked out whereby the Tiv were allowed to return to those areas that they had been evicted on condition that they settled down under the full authority of the Jukun chiefs. In other words, following the failure of this policy (ring-fence) a new policy was to be adopted which was that the Tiv be allowed to return to Wukari and other areas they (Tiv) had been evicted but now be regarded as “settlers” and hence, accept “settler” status under the authority of the Jukun Native Authority, headed by the Aku of Wukari. This new policy was even a much more dangerous one and led to serious friction between the Tiv and other groups in these areas in the colonial period, culminating in the violent post colonial conflicts involving the Tiv and other groups in the area. C.C. Jacobs was therefore right when he noted that:

Much subsequent friction was to centre on these two points as the Tiv clans of Shitire and Ukum by long residence believed that they were not settlers and that the land was Tivland through long use and occupation and secondly the Tiv refused to accept the political authority of the Aku of Wukari… [46]

This administrative position which reveals the bias of the emirate school against the Tiv was bound to fail as it did subsequently. This is because the policy was a direct violation of the historical reality regarding the people of the area. Therefore, following the failure of the “ring fence policy” and the abrogation of the Munshi Province, leading to the creation of a much more enlarged Benue Province in 1926, Wukari Division was brought into the new Benue province. However, the fundamental colonial administration’s strategy or policy still remained that of furthering the Jukun position much more forcefully than the previous one under the defunct Munshi Province. As it were under the defunct Munshi Province created in 1918, attempt was made to contain the Tiv in the deliberately compressed province under the so-called “ring fence policy”. But under the Benue Provincial arrangement the people were allowed to return and settle in Wukari and those other areas that they had been previously evicted, albeit under a new conflict prone status of “settlers”, “guests” or “immigrants”! This was indeed, a radical alteration of the pre-colonial history of this area; and as would be seen later, remained a source of perennial conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in the region in post-colonial Nigeria.

From the foregoing it can be seen clearly that almost all the steps or policies pursued in the course of colonial administration involving the Tiv and other groups within the Benue valley were to put the other groups at a vantage position or to employ all means to put the Tiv at a disadvantage. Moreover, the colonial policy permitting Tiv to return to those areas from which they had been previously evicted, but under a new status of “settlers” or immigrants” or “guests” led to or created the present post colonial violent conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours because there was a spurious claim by the colonialists that the Tiv were strangers, not neighbours of these areas at the time. As this claim by the colonial administrators is anchored on falsehood, the officers copiously contradicted themselves in the colonial records. For instance, studies abound indicating that ethnic groups were considered to be indigenous in their respective areas, fundamentally because they had taken effective possession of those areas before the arrival of the British colonial masters in those areas. The colonial submission, in 1914, on the Arago and the Beri-Beri groups over Lafia town is a clear proof of the claim by this work. It posits that:

The site of the present town of Lafia was then in the hands of Arago but about the year 1789 a band of Bornu Beri-Beri under the leadership of one Dunama from Bornu, conquered the Arago people and their town, the name of which they changed from “Anani” to “Lafian Beri-Beri. [47]

It is this same colonial understanding that has made the Fulani group not only indigenous to almost all the states in Northern Nigeria including Kwara, also a very powerful traditional ruling institution in all the States. Curiously or strangely however, regarding the Tiv group, the colonial administration appeared to have reversed or contradicted this principle. Consequently, the administration not only falsified the history of such areas that it had met the Tiv and even acknowledged this previously but acted in a frenzied manner to protect such groups against claim of Tiv encroachment. The colonial administration had in 1914 submitted in the case of some Tiv settlements around Keana in the present State of Nasarawa thus:

A younger brother named Agade; who succeded as 8th chief of Keana, made war on the Jukunawa and drove them from the land which lay between his town and the Benue…His grand-nephew (Aladoga) who reigned as the 12th chief from about 1852-1862 is said to have induced the Haraba Munchis (Tiv) to cross the Benue and settle on the land to the south of his town, which has been abandoned by the Jukunawa. [48]

This shows Tiv presence and occupation of this area long before the advent of British colonialism, hence the lack of historical authority by the administration to have declared them “settlers”. Moreover, the colonial administration had not bothered to investigate and locate where the other groups had inhabited at the time of creation of mankind with a view to sending them back to their original homeland. Similarly, the same colonial administration submitted again thus:

At about this time also Makama Dogo, the founder of Nassarawa commenced raiding in the Doma Kingdom. In desperation Doma (so they claim) invited the Munshi (Tiv) to cross from the south of the Benue and settle in the uninhabited district to the South-East on the East of the River Ahina and called them allies. From what one knows of the Munshi (Tiv) it is not at all impossible that this was a spontaneous expansion of the tribe and that Doma made a virtue of necessity in making them welcome. The same may be said of the similar claim of Keana to have invited the Munshi (Tiv) to cross the Benue for their authority over them cannot have been great when one considers the number of Gwandara and Arago villages on the Munshi (Tiv) fringe that were sacked and reduced to ruins by the Munshi (Tiv), such as Kadorko, Giza, Karashi and Kuduku… [49]

Furthermore, evidence abounds even in the early colonial administrative records and other submissions from British officers acknowledging that the Tiv were indigenous to those areas within the Benue valley outside the present State of Benue from which they (Tiv) were initially evicted during the “ring-fence” policy and later allowed to return, albeit under a new status of “settlers”.

In respect of Donga District it was submitted that:

The Tiv arrived at about the same time as the Chamba in the Donga region; and that Ugondo (sub-clan or section of the Tiv) wereactually the first to take possession of the territory which part of their descendants now occupy in Donga District. [50]

Notwithstanding, the official colonial administrative policy enunciated as contained in the report was that:

The conclusion is therefore that though the Tiv of Ugondo have no right to a voice in the central administration of the District, they have a right to regulate their own internal affairs on land which they were the first to occupy. [51]

However, the intelligence report from where the last two quotations or submissions emanate shockingly sought to distort the historical facts in its introduction thus:

This is a report on the administration of the Donga District of the Wukari Division of the Benue province. It has been divided for convenience into three main sections. The first deals with the central administration of the District, which is essentially that of a personal Chamba Chief, and also with the indigenous tribes subject to Chamba, in particular the Kentu; the second deals solely with the immigrant Tiv units, which constitute a special problem; while the third section deals with the finance of the whole district. [52]

Similar colonial distortion can also be seen in the case of Kashimbilla, one of the hamlets among the Tiv, occupied by some elements of the Jukun and Katsinawa (Hausa). The case of this hamlet is interesting because at least the colonial administration later acknowledged the error of not listing the hamlet under one of Tiv areas. The administration had initially reckoned that Kashimbilla was a Chamba settlement. For instance, the early colonial administration had submitted in one of its records“Besides Takum town, there are the following Chamba settlements in Takum District:- Kasimbila…”[53]

While venturing into the history of origin of the settlement of Kasimbila and some of the hamlets which the administration was convinced that were offshoots of Kasimbila, the administration had erroneous conceptions. The administration was of the view that Kasimbila, Mallam Che and Galumje were founded by Mude and his brother Gadin. According to the tradition of origin submitted by the administration, Mude had left Dindi (their original homeland) together with Loya and the batch of Chamba who had eventually established themselves at Donga and Suntai. At an early stage; it continued, Mude had parted ways with Loya and taking a southerly route, entered the present Takum District via the Katsina Ala river valley. He established himself in the Kasimbila region, raiding not only the neighbouring Ayigiben Zomper but also the Tiv and various Southern Provinces ethnic groups. On his death it was claimed that, the settlement broke up but the minor hamlets so formed eventually accepted the leadership of Kasimbila with the exception of Galumje whose chief claims leadership himself on the grounds that he was the senior branch of Mude’s family. Mallam Che,the tradition goes, was cut off from Kasimbila by the British who at first made the Katsina Ala river the boundary and an attempt was made to include Mallam Che in a village area under Galumje. They however made no pretence of obeying the chief of Galumje.

According to the colonial administration, formerly Mallam Che, as an outpost of Kasimbila, established suzerainty over the Bette Zomper. Galumje similarly established suzerainty over the Marwo who are now practically extinct; such was the severity of the Chamba overlord ship. A few scattered remnants only are to be found living amongst the other Zomper groups.

Consequent upon this tradition the early colonial administration had constituted a Kasimbila Subordinate Native Authority for the Kasimbila Village Area, in which the Tiv people of the area were relegated to the background as they (Tiv) were considered as mere strangers within the area. The Subordinate Native Authority which was put under Takum District comprised the Chief of Kasimbila, who was a Chamba, and an advisory council of the Tiv. [54] Therefore, the colonial administration’s thinking was that Kasimbila was not Tivland but the Tiv people were mere immigrants in the area.

However, according to Tiv tradition of the area, a woman named Shimadoo wan mbajirkyaa of Njorov area of Mbadura kindred of Turan clan of the present day Kwande Local Government Area had got married to a man of Shiakper in Kpav sub-section of the Shitile group of Tiv. [55] This marriage, it is claimed, was blessed with a son called Hiiun. The account asserts that Hiiun was very handsome, charming, and attractive and was also reputed to have been a great dancer. With such endowments it is said that women greatly admired him and he was always having an advantage over other men in the area of wooing and marrying of women, and that he had indeed married many women at a very young age. However, this fortune of Hiuun, it is said that attracted to him a lot of jealousy from his peers among his kinsmen. Consequently, his kinsmen plotted to kill him (Hiiun). His mother, Shimadoo, being a woman of good conduct, some of the women who were aware of the plot leaked it to her. On knowing of this plot she took her son (Hiiun) and fled to her people – maternal kinsmen of Hiiun.

While she was there with her people, Shimadoo was given a piece of land to settle on. And this place was situated not far away from Jato Aka before the Mkomon River on the way to Kasimbila from Jato Aka. With the passage of time Hiiun’s mother, Shimadoo died and was buried in this place given to her by her people.After the death of his mother, Hiiun had requested his maternal kinsmen to show him a different place where he could re-locate. His request was borne out of the fact that he was a man given to fishing activities and therefore, would have preferred a location suitable for fishing.

At this point, Hiiun’s maternal kinsmen showed him a new site near the confluence of Katsina-Ala-Moon Rivers. This is the area within which Kasimbila is also located – that is the area of the Moon people of the Turan Tiv people who are found in the present geo-political arrangement of Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.

Thus, Hiiun settled here with his three wives; the first of which was of Jukun descent, his children; and some of his (Hiiun) kinsmen some of whose names were given as Gyuren Gafa, Yaavega and Kwaghngise. Some of the names of Hiiun’s sons who were with him here were given as Tor Zaki, the only son or child from the first wife. Gbendu, Gansa and Ahmadu were from Hiiun’s wife whom he married from the Ugbe people of the Ichongo sub group of the Tiv people. Hiiun’s third wife, Wan Mbajir gave birth to a son whose name was Igbadoo. [56]

This account holds that while Hiiun was here with his people, his Jukun in laws came from Gadin where they were having problem with the Bafum people and requested from him a place where they could settle with him as their in laws. At that point, Hiiun who had become a very prominent figure among his maternal kinsmen invited his maternal kinsmen and told them about this, after which he requested a place be given to his in laws for settlement.

Consequently, a parcel of land was given to Hiiun’s in laws within his vicinity. The site was originally, just by a stream with a narrow iron bridge across the steam. This was not far away from Anyiase settlement, where Hiiun had settled with his people, to the present market square of Kasimbila just near the Katsina Ala/Moon rivers confluence from the western side or Jato Aka side.

After some time, it is said that some Beriberi elephant hunters also came to Hiiun and requested him to give them a place where they could settle with a view to carrying out their hunting activities. Hiiun in turn did not object to the Beriberi’s request. Hence, he told them to settle amongst his Jukun in laws. It is said that the Beriberi resided amongst those Jukun and maintained their elephant hunting activities, the teeth of which were removed and given to their host, Hiiun. According to this account, it was the Beriberi that nicknamed Hiiun as Kashinbera [57] which was later corrupted as Kasimbila and extended to represent the settlement itself. It is important to note that Hiiun was initially recognized as Shagbaor (man of substance) by his maternal kinsmen, but later he was elevated to the position of Tor-agbande (Drum Chief).

Subsequently, Hiiun died and was buried in this place given to him by his maternal kinsmen. Consequently, his eldest son from the Jukun wife, Tor Zaki succeeded his late father as Tor-agbande. However, it is said that he was “bewitched” with an ailment that seriously and constantly scratched his skin. It is said that the scratching was sometimes so severe that he had to mostly use a knife in scratching his skin. It is alleged that it was the half brothers of Tor Zaki that had bewitched him with such ailment. And in apparent annoyance with his half brothers, Tor Zaki had vowed that he was going to transfer or throw the Tor-agbande away to a place that his half brothers would never get to or find it, even after his death. In accordance with his vow, he transferred the Tor-agbande chieftaincy to his maternal uncle of the Jukun people whose name was given as Saakwen. Thus, Saakwen became the Tor-agbande after his nephew, Tor Zaki, but from this point the Tor-agbande had become of less influence and significance, somewhat of a Jukun Tor, as a non Tiv Tor-agbande could not, naturally and logically, look after the vast Tiv area in terms of population and landmass of which the Kasimbila settlement, containing a number of Jukun, had remained but a mere tiny dot.

According to this account, the above episode took place before the advent of British colonialism. But unfortunately, at the advent of the British, the status was reversed. In accordance with the British colonial policy, the Tiv of this area were now declared guests or immigrants in their homeland! [58] Hence, at one point the colonial administration had recorded that Kasimbila was a Chamba settlement and then at another point, that the same settlement belonged to Zomper (Kutev). [59] The administration was later to confess that the Kasimbila settlement seems to have been a Tiv settlement but that it was erroneously considered as a Zomper (Kutev) unit, claiming thus “…the Tiv having a majority in this area (Kasimbila) seems to have been wrongly included in the list of Zomper units…” [60]

The above situation is not only incredible but equally unjust. How would a group have no say in the central administration that it was considered not only part of but the also possessors of the territory and paid tax for the sustenance of the administration? The frenzied and desperate attempt at distorting the history of these areas in favour of other groups can easily be seen.There exist glaring evidence showing that the Tiv were not only the first to arrive but also effectively took possession of the lands under discussion. But ironically the Tiv are referred to in these records as immigrants, which is incorrect. This has unfortunately remained the source of violent post-colonial conflicts in those areas. In spite of proposals made by the colonial administration for a change of policy regarding the Tiv people the colonial administration left by 1960 without effecting any meaningful change in policy.61 In view of the above, therefore, Iorwuese Hagher got it wrong when he declared that:

The problem actually started in 1976 during the state creation exercise when Gongola State was created … the individual powers in the military set out to create states based on reward to themselves instead of relying on equity and justice. [62]

Far from this contention by Hagher, the roots of the post-colonial conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours within the region of our study can be found in the soil of colonial events or activities dating back to the second decade of the twentieth century. Almost all the boundary problems prevalent in this region relating to the Tiv and their neighbours were consciously created by the colonial administration as shown above. Moreover, it is strange in colonial history, world over, to insist that colonial boundaries, be it international or local, created for purposes of administrative expediency or exigency; insisted that an ethnic group must necessarily be compressed or confined in just one colonial administrative unit whatsoever. Example abounds all over Africa where colonial boundaries cut across pre-existing cultural groups of same ethnic descent. The Yoruba group is for this example divided between Nigeria and Benin Republics. The Bakongo are found divided by the boundaries of Angola, Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), French Congo (now Congo) and Gabon. Today some of the Ewe are in Ghana, some in Togo and some in Benin; the Somali are shared among Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti, the Senufo are found in Mali, Ivory Coast and Bourkina Faso, the examples can be multiplied. [63]

After the demise of the colonial administration certain leaders and elements, particularly of Jukun origin have, in pursuance of parochial objectives as would be seen later, unfortunately referred to those colonial distortions as the true picture of the boundaries just to further their interest. Thus, in the area of struggling to appropriate land within a claimed boundary in the interest of enhancing their political and economic interest, statutory positions, such leaders and elements have quoted those colonial distortions to provide dubious historical legitimacy to their parochial objectives.

Colonial Administration’s Management of Conflicts: Tiv and their Neighbours

As we have said earlier, the population in our area of study was generally fluid in the precolonial period. However, with the advent of British colonialism, the colonial administration sought to modify the situation by, among other things, creating borderlines among cultural groups within the area. This generated serious conflicts among these groups regarding the extent of their respective borderlines. This accounted for the Tiv – Udam conflicts and Tiv and their neighbours in Wukari Division. In the cases of the Tiv and their present Cross River state neighbours, the Udam, there had been cases of reported conflicts involving them and the Tiv. These conflicts even though were managed by the groups in their respective ways as shown in chapter two above, they persisted up to the colonial period and in some cases are still prevalent.

The Tiv-Udam conflict is one of such case that has escalated due to the colonial intervention. In spite of the hostilities that arose from the migration wars, the Tiv had settled peacefully with their Udam neighbours and inter married with each other. Cases of fishing and hunting agreements existed between the people. However, the colonialists in an attempt to establish clear cut boundary line between the Tiv and the Udam, contrary to what had been in existence, embarked on what came to be known as the “Munshi Wall”; that wall according to the colonialists was to stop further acquisition of land by the Tiv. This wall was constructed without recourse to the already existing cultural relations between the Tiv and the Udam. The colonialists themselves were not outright in the idea of the wall when it was conceived. For, according to Tseror:

When the idea of the Munshi wall was conceived, the British did not disclose its actual purpose to the Tiv. They were deceived that it was going to serve as gbenda Batur (White man’s road) that would be used in transporting cotton from Tivland to Akpoto, Idomaland. [64]

Thus, the colonialists in an attempt to manage that conflict between the Tiv and their Udam neighbours rather aggravated it. It is stated that before the Tiv – Udam boundary was drawn the Mbayongo people interacted more freely with the Otukwang Udam. And that this was evident in the hunting arrangement existing between them which permitted the Tiv to hunt within the area. But following the colonial boundary it became an exclusive preserve of the Otukwang Udam group. [65] Hence:

In the drawing of fixed boundaries by the British …border tensions and frictions soared high and from the 50s onwards; these assumed a new dimension as shooting wars between Tiv (mbaduku) and Udam (Obodu) became a common feature of inter group relations. [66]

There is also a record of a conflict that also arose involving the Mbayongo (Tiv) and Otukwang (Udam) hunters. As the Mbayongo – Otukwang border tensions intensified, the Otukwang began to view Tiv hunters as trespassers on their territory. In 1938 a hunting party of Mbayongo pursued a bush buck from the Tiv territory into Udam territory, crossing the border. The Udam demanded for the animal because it was captured in the Udam territory. When the Tiv refused, a major misunderstanding arose, and the matter was referred to the colonial authorities for arbitration. The colonial administration in their usual bias against the Tiv reacted quite arbitrarily by abolishing the age-old arrangement permitting hunting rights between the Otukwang and Tiv. [67]

Thus, the creation of the border wall which was intended to manage border and border related conflicts rather aggravated them. The reasons for colonial administration’s failure in evolving a successful conflict management mechanism can be seen in its bias against the Tiv people and lack of genuine commitment to peaceful co-existence of the groups involved. As has been stressed earlier, in the course of British attempt at imposition of colonial administration in this area, they found the Tiv highly uncompromising in this regard. The British were irked by this Tiv attitude and subsequently were to treat the people (Tiv) negatively as a way of punishing them for their “sin” of vehemently resisting colonialism.

A case in point was that of Mbakpa clan in Tiv Division and its neighbours in Doma, Lafia Division where both were contesting the ownership of Asori Island. The colonial administration, in settling the dispute after thorough investigation pointed out that, although the Island belonged to the Tiv, however, the decision on the boundary did not give any one or group exclusive right of ownership. [68]

Moreover, it would appear that the colonial administration was not really interested in dispassionately managing the conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in order to foster unity among the surrounding groups. Hence, they never bothered to study the traditional or precolonial relations of the cultural groups in attempting to address the problems that had erupted between the groups.

Colonial administration’s management of conflicts in the Benue Valley especially the ones involving the Tiv and their neighbours took a definite pattern which was devoid of conflict resolution. In each conflict involving the Tiv, the latter were found to be the guilty partner even where there were evidences to the contrary as attested by the foregoing discussion. For instance, in a bid to promote the interest of the Jukun over and above the Tiv, Fremantle maintained:

There are a number of Jukun administrative islands in Munshi sea; a few of these are still under Wukari, and I should like to see them remain so, to see these Munshis (Tiv) who have come in between owe allegiance to Wukari as was the case at first. There are so many of them there, and some limit must be set to Tiv expansion which is based on bad rather than good agricultural considerations. [69]

However, there is no historical evidence to suggest that the Tiv had owed allegiance to Wukari as alleged by Mr Fremantle. Rather, he invoked his imagination to further create enmity between the Jukun and Tiv under the pretext of managing conflicts between the groups. For Fremantle, the only way to stop Tiv expansion was “to give the Munshis (Tiv) concerned a year notice to quit” [70] the area they (Tiv) had occupied centuries preceding British colonial administration in the area. He proceeded to say “my hope is that the land so set free may become populated with Jukun”, [71] what a way of managing conflicts!

This style of conflict management rather aggravated and intensified more conflicts in the Benue Valley, thereby setting the stage for Indigene/Settler phenomenon in contemporary Nigeria. Given that the Benue Valley area has the highest concentration of diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria, the region is mostly affected by this phenomenon ended.

 

Endnotes

  1. For these voyages, see William Balfour Baikie, Narative of an Exploration Voyage up the Rivers Kworra and Binue, London, 1854 and Adolphe Burdo, A Voyage up the Niger and Benue, London, Richard Beuthey and Sons, 1880.
  2. See for instance, Obaro Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria, Ibadan, Heinemann, 1977.
  3. Ibid.
  4. E. de. C. Duggan, “Notes on the Munshi, p. 174.
  5. N.A.K. Maprof/ AR/INT/WI. Although some portions of the quotation may be incorrect, but the relevance is to show that the Jukun quickly and readily accepted British colonialism and also cooperated with the foreign invaders.
  6. C.N. Ubah, Colonial Army and Society in Northern Nigeria, Kaduna, Baraka, 1988, pp.82-92.
  7. O. Ikime, “The British Pacification of the Tiv 1900-1906”, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Vol. Vii, No.1, 1973, pp.103-6.
  8. D.C. Dorward, “Ethnography and Administration: A Study of Anglo-Tiv Working Misunderstanding”, Journal of African History, Vol.XV, No.3, 1974, p.459.
  9. R.A. Sargent, “Anglo-Tiv Relations 1885-1914: The Era of Aggression”, Benue Valley Project Papers, No.10, 1974, p.17.
  10. D.C. Dorward, “Ethnography and Administration…”, p.459.
  11. Ibid., p.460.
  12. Ibid., p.460.
  13. For the full detail of this incident see, D.D. Yongo, “Resistance to Colonial Conquest in Northern Tivland, 1875-1914, B.A. Project, Dept. of History, Unijos, 1992,pp.43-5.
  14. O. Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria, Ibadan, Heinemann, 1977, p.176.
  15. N.A.K. S.N.P.7/786/1908 Annual Report, Muri Province 1907.
  16. N.A.K. S.N.P.7/4816/1908 Munshi Boundary Adjustment of Between Northern and Southern Nigeria
  17. N.A.K. S.N.P.7/786/1908 Annual Report…
  18. D.C. Dorward, “A Political and Social History…”, p.143.
  19. For more details on the peaceful penetration see, T. Makar, The History of Political Change…, pp.100 ff.
  20. The present site of Katsina-Ala is different from the old Katsina-Ala town which was located at the western bank of the River. The old town however fizzled out following the foundation of the new town.
  21. E. de. C. Duggan, “Notes on the Munshi…”, p. 169.
  22. O. Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria, p. 181.
  23. Ibid., p. 169.
  24. Ibid., p. 171.
  25. N.A.K./S.N.P.7/4816/1908 Munshi Boundary Between…
  26. D. C. Dorward, “A Social and Political History…”, p.8.
  27. N.A.K./SNP.7/ 4816/1908 Munshi Boundary Between…
  28. This example can be seen in the appointment of non-Tiv the Sarkin (chief) Makurdi, Audu dan Afoda in 1927.
  29. F.H. Ruxton and C.F. Gordon represented the Tiv school, these offices had served among the Tiv people and came to appreciate the Tiv people.
  30. H.R. Palmer and Fremantle represented the Emirate School. They too, due to long service in the Emirate areas had come to appreciate those areas.
  31. O. Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria, p. 169.
  32. R. East (trans), Akiga’s Story, p. 404.
  33. See pp.74-76 above
  34. N.A. K./ S.N.P.10/6/464/1918 Muri Province Report for 1914 by Resident Fremantle
  35. N.A.K./ S.N.P. 10/3/171P/1915 Muri Province Annual Report for the half year ending 30 June, 1918 by Resident Fremantle.
  36. N.A.K S.N.P. 10/6/464/1918 Muri Province Report for half year ending 30 June 1918 by Resident Fremantle.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/3/171P/1915 Muri Province, Annual Report for 1914 by Resident Fremantle; S.N.P. 10/2/376P/1914. Muri Province Report for quarter ending March 1914 by Acting Resident C.F. Rowe.
  40. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/5/321P/1917 Muri Province Report for half year ending 30 June 1917 by Resident Fremantle.
  41. Ibid.
  42. N.A.K. S.N.P. 17/3/24898 Takum District, Wukari Division, Benue Porvince Intelligence Report by Mr. K. Dewar.
  43. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/6/198P/1918 Muri Province Annual Report, 1917 by Resident Fremantle.
  44. F.H. Ruxton, “Notes on the Tribes of the Muri Province”, Journal of the African Society, Vol. VIII, No. XXV, 1907, p.382.
  45. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/6/464/1918 Muri Province Report for half year ending 30 June 1918 by Resident Fremantle.
  46. C.C. Jacobs, “British Colonial Administrative Policies with Reference to Wukari and their effects on Tiv-Jukun Relations, 1900-1960”. Paper Presented at the 46th Congress of the Historical Society of Nigeria held at Benue State University, Makurdi from 20th – 23rd October, 2002, P.8.
  47. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/120P/1914 Nassarawa Province Lafia Division, Keana District Assessment Report on by Capt. H.L. Norton.
  1. Ibid. It is doubtful if the Tiv were there at the instance of inducement. It is also reasonable to think that the Tiv may have waged war against him and his people. Hence, suggesting that Tiv occupation of the area was on account of conquest, rather than the claimed invitation or inducement of the Tiv people.
  2. N.A.K. S.N.P.. 10/712P/1915 Nassarawa Province – Lafia Division, Doma District Assessment Report by Mr. H.F. Matthews.
  3. N.A.K. S.N.P 17/24678 Intelligence Report on the Donga District of the Wukari Division– Benue Province. Donga is found in the present day Taraba State.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. N.A.K. S.N.P 17/24898 Intelligence Report on Takum District of the Wukari Division, Benue Province.
  7. Ibid.
  8. This account is common and generally maintained by the Tiv of this area. However, all attempts to obtain information from the non-Tiv proved abortive as the group had insisted that such must be obtained from their chief who had protracted illness illness and was moved from Kashimbilla to Takum. I pursued it up to the place in Takum but was informed by the Chief’s eldest son that his father’s condition would not permit that.
  9. According to this account, it was only Igbadoo, out of all his father’s (Hiiun) children, that went back to his father’s Shiaper clan.
  10. Kashinbera is a combination of two words in Hausa language, kasha (feases) and bera (rat) respectively. Since the Tiv people have been always laughed at, for making rats their delicacy it could have been the reason behind the derogatory naming the settlement of their host, Hiiun, Kashinbera that has been corrupted to be Kashimbilla.
  11. N.A.K. S.N.P 17/24898 Intelligence Report on Takum District…
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. C.C. Jacobs, British Administrative Policies…
  15. I. Hagher, Beyond Hate and Violence, Ibadan, Caltop, 2002, p.125.
  16. A. Boahen, “Colonialism in Africa: its impact and significance, Africa under colonial Domination.
  17. T. Tseor, Tiv and their Neighbours , p. 25.
  18. Ibid. p.32.
  19. Ibid., p.32.
  20. Ibid.,p.32.
  21. N.A.K. AR/BOU/19 Provincial Boundaries.
  22. N.A.K. S.N.P. 10/3/171P/1915 Muri Province Annual Report for the half year ending 30 June, 1918 by Resident Fremantle.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

TRANSITION TO INDEPENDENCE, PARTY POLITICS AND CONFLICTS IN THE BENUE VALLEY REGION 1950-1960

The Minority Question in Colonial Nigeria

As shown earlier in this work, the British colonial administration had systematically created intergroup conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley. Similar situation was replicated at the Nigerian national level between the majority and minority ethnic groups. This antagonistic relationship was beneficial to the colonial administration as harmonious co-existance would have potend threat to continued smooth colonization. But to worsen the situation, the Nigeran nationalist leadership that had emerged which would have corrected the situation did not even believe in Nigeria. The attitudes of this Nigerian nationalist leadership, as we shall show, contributed significantly in hightening a lot of conflicts among the Nigerian groups including that of the Tiv and their neighbours. Therefore, it is important to examine the manifestation of expression or exhibition of disbelief in Nigeria by the nationalist leadership and how it contributed to the aggravation of conflicts between the groups.

Consequently, it was this sentiment that made Chief Obafemi Awolowo to declare in 1974 that:

Nigeria is not a nation, it is a mere geographical expression. There are no “Nigerians” in the same sense as there are “English”, “Welsh”, or “French”, the word “Nigerian” is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not. [1]

In line with the above, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa submitted in the legislative council in 1948 that:

Since 1914 the Britsh Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their background, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any signs of willingness to unite…. Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country. [2]

Again, the same Balewa had maintained that:

Many (Nigerians) deceive themselves by thinking that Nigeria is one,… particularly some of the press people…. This is wrong. I am sorry to say that this presence of unity is artificial and it ends outside this chamber…. The southern tribes who are now pouring into the North in ever increasing numbers, and are more or less domiciled here do not mix with the northern people…. And we in the north look upon them as invaders. [3]

In the case of Sir Ahmadu Bello, his disapproval, disbelief and lack of confidence in the Nigerian project was clearly expressed in 1953. This was at the occasion of the presentation of a motion for “self government” in 1956. This motion led to an uproar in the house and drew from the late Sardauna of Sokoto, then leader of the Northern People’s Congress, the memorable comment that, “the mistake of 1914 has now come to light”. [4]

Indeed, it would appear that none of the known celebrated Nigerian nationalists agitating for self government was genuinely nationalistic. In spite of feelings by some people that Zik was nationalistic in thought, his fundamental or intrinsic composition exhibited by certain expressions of his’ revealed that he was not really different from others as he had once submitted that:

… the God of Africa has especially created the Igbo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages …. The martial prowess of the Ibo nation at all stages of human history has enabled them not only to conquer others but also to adapt themselves to the role of preserver…. The Ibo nation cannot shirk its responsibility…. [5]

Zik, like some of his fellow Igbo kinsmen was only being very clever in trying to portray himself as being genuinely concerned about the Nigerian project thereby attracting public sympathy, but in reality maintaining, as discreetly as possible, his ethnic agenda. For, it was part of the strategy of the Igbo State Union to maintain such, discreetly. A portion of the extracts taken from the minutes of one of the meetings of its national caucus – a committee of the Igbo state union signed jointly by Dr. Mbadiwe and Dr. Mbanugo in 1964 reveals the real intention of Zik and the Igbo group agenda in Nigeria:

Outwardly all our official and unofficial utterances must adopt an opposite procedures and we must always do our best to appear honourable and cooperative. Remember a stateman’s words do not have to agree with his acts… you intensify the ‘One Nigeria Slogan’ at all times. [6]

Consequently, when Zik at the budget session of the Nigerian legislative council in March, 1948, introduced a motion “condemning the creation of ill will among the peoples of Nigeria and urging a united Nigerian outlook” [7], it could simply be held suspicious. Indeed, it thus appears that none of the known celebrated Nigerian nationalists was committed to the Nigerian national project. They were, indeed, ethnic or regional leaders committed to their personal interests or at best, the ideals of their respective regions.

The thinking of these leaders expressed above is substantially devoid of historical reality exposing marked ignorance of Nigerian history by the statesmen however this work does not intend to provoke a debate on this subject. The intention is to show that right from the period of the march towards Nigerian political independence the nationalist leadership that had dominated the political scene came mainly from the three Nigerian majority ethnic groups of the Hausa/Fulani of Northern Region, the Yoruba of Western Region and the Igbo of the Eastern Region. And, that the so-called nationalist leaders were not genuinely committed to the ideals of Nigerian national project. They were essentially ethnic or regional jingoists committed to, as would be shown later, striking a better bargain for their respective ethnic groups in the foreseeable (would be) independent Nigerian state with some of them merely hiding under the cover of Nigerian national identity.

Therefore, with this parochial perception of Nigerian history, the so-called nationalist leaders formed ethno-cultural or, as in the case of the north, regional associations, with parochial or limited objectives to their areas. But unfortunately, however, these Unions later metamorphosed into strong political parties and were expected to pursue much more serious national objectives! Corresponding to the new demand or requirement the same ethno-regionalist leaders had to assume new nationalist roles in this regard. A lot has been written on the formation of these political parties in support of what is being said here. Therefore, we may be permitted not to venture into the same debate here, except to use some relevant quotations from such works to support the present position. With respect to the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, later changed to National Council of Nigerian Citizens (N.C.N.C.), it has been written that:

It is significant that the overwhelming majority of the members elected to the Eastern and Western Houses of Assembly in 1951 were prominent leaders of their local tribal associations. Indeed, during the interwar period, the energies of most of the westernized elements outside Lagos were channeled into this type of organizational activity. At the time of its inauguration in 1944, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (N.C.N.C.) was to a large extent a federation of tribal and improvement associations. [8]

Elsewhere it is recorded that:

It was not surprising therefore that these tribal unions also interested themselves in political affairs and the Pan-Ibo Union itself was one of the founding members of the N.C.N.C. [9]

In the same vein, the formation of the Action Group (A.G.) started in 1945 with the formation of Egbe Omo Oduduwa by Yoruba students in London. It has been argued that its emergence was Obafemi Awolowo’s attempt to stop the tide of Igbo nationalism championed by Nnamdi Azikiwe of the N.C.N.C. It is also important to note that the Northern Peoples Congress (N.P.C.) had hitherto been a cultural congress until 1949, when Aminu Kano and Abubakar, among others, transformed it into a political organization. These ethnic political inclinations prompted Crowder to state thus:

The three years during which the new constitution was negotiated were dominated by tribal nationalism with the N.P.C. taking the part of the North, the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, which with elements of the old Nigerian Youth Movement became the Action Group, taking the part of the West, and the N.C.N.C., whilst it outwardly preserved its pan-Nigerian aims, taking the part of the East. [10]

By the geo-political colonial regional arrangement, the minority ethnic groups had not been granted favourable opportunity or equal place for self realization or determination. Hence, minority ethnic groups found or included in those colonial administrative regions in colonial Nigeria were simply considered or treated under the majority ethnic nationalities in their (minorities) respective regions. Similarly, the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley were, for instance, considered and treated as part of the Hausa/Fulani larger group and were to be treated as being part of an indivisible Northern Region. Indeed, under colonial Nigeria and shortly after that, official receipts including tax receipts, issued in Northern Region, including non-Hausa speaking areas of Tiv in the Benue valley, were written in English and Hausa languages. In fact, even now some of such receipts are still found in use as evidence. [11]

Furthermore, as the Tiv, and indeed, their neighbours in the Benue Valley became increasingly forced into the Hausa/Fulani dominated Northern Region. The interest of the Hausa/Fulani was perceived by the colonial administration to be that of the people of the Benue Valley region. This was a wrong position to presume for a people that had existed in pre-colonial period, independent of Hausa/Fulani hegemony. By this severe colonial distortion of the precolonial arrangement, there was bound to be conflict.

Similarly, as the Hausa/Fulani were regarded as owners of the Northern Region so were the other majority ethnic nationalities considered the exclusive owners of their respective geopolitical regions. This development obviously heralded the conflictual nature of party politics, nationalist activities, participation and negotiation in the process of decolonization or constitutional independence as all of these cumulatively culminated in the ‘vexed problematic’ generally referred to as the minority question in the checkered political history of Nigeria.

This is because faced with this ugly reality the minority ethnic groups became conscious, apprehensive and awakened to the majority ethnic threat. At first the minority ethnic groups could not hide their fears regarding the majority ethnic threat, the result of which led to the constitution, by the colonial administration, of the Willink’s Commission to look into the fears of the minority groups in Nigeria with a view to allaying such fears. [12]

The Tiv in particular being the largest of all the minorities in the Benue valley provided the necessary leadership to the groups in championing the cause or aspirations of the minorities in the Benue valley in particular and Nigeria at large. In playing this role, the Tiv attracted the wrath of the Hausa/Fulani dominant group within the northern region as such Tiv act was interpreted by them (Hausa/Fulani) to mean subversion of the cause of northern solidarity. This was to have a lot of damaging repercussion on the Tiv group in post colonial Nigeria.

In 1900, Nigeria was divided into three separate colonial territories known as the Colony of Lagos and the Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria. The Colony and Protectorates were independently administered by three different administrators directly answerable to the United Kingdom. In 1904, the two southern administrations were brought under the same governor (Sir Walter Egerton), and two years later, the colony and protectorate of Southern Nigeria, under a united colonial bureaucracy, came into being. For the next six years northern and southern Nigeria were administered as separate colonial territories, even to the extent of having frontier controls. In 1914 the colony and the two protectorates were amalgamated and ostensibly became a single political unit called the colony and protectorate of Nigeria, with the capital in Lagos. The only bond of political unity, however, was the person of Sir Frederick Lugard, the new governor-general.

Despite this final amalgamation of 1914, the administrative individuality of the former separate territories was maintained. The colony of Lagos preserved its unique legal status. Like other early West African trading stations, Lagos and its environs had been annexed and made a colony, the people became British subjects owing allegiance to the British sovereignty, and British law was imposed on African law. The colony’s separate status continued until the inauguration of the constitution of 1951. Moreover, the amalgamated protectorate of 1914 was divided into two groups of provinces (northern and southern) which corresponded identically with the formerly separate protectorates. Each of these two groups of provinces was administered by a separate lieutenant governor, reporting directly to the governor, and by a distinct colonial bureaucracy.

Although the broad principles of the Native Administration system were slowly extended from the north to the south, the different policies and conceptions of colonial administration which had evolved in each of the two protectorates during the fourteen years of their separate existence continued to dominate official thought and action. Also, different policies regarding native land prevailed in the two areas. The only occasion on which the higher officials of the two separate bureaucracies could meet was at the annual session of the legislative council in Lagos.

In 1900 when the southern protectorate was created, it was administratively organized into three groups of provinces, each headed by a Resident who reported to the lieutenant governor. These were subsequently amalgamated into one united administration with a freecirculating bureaucracy and with headquarters first in Lagos and subsequently in Enugu. Throughout this period of southern unity, administrative policies were essentially uniform, with adaptations for obvious sectional or ethnic peculiarities. In 1939 the awkwardness of Enugu as a headquarters, together with other factors, brought about a division of the south into two groups of provinces (Western and eastern), with the Niger River as the boundary.

Thus, at the outbreak of World War II, Nigeria was divided into four artificial administrative units: the Colony, the Western Provinces, the Northern Provinces and the Eastern provinces. During the war, shortage of administrative personnel, plus the growing congestion of Lagos, forced substantial delegation of powers and functions from Lagos to the headquarters of the three groups of provinces. By the end of the war, the degree of administrative devolution had been of such magnitude as to endow the three main areas with individuality. This was strengthened and formalized by the Richards constitution of 1946, which gave each unit fairly broad powers. The constitution of 1951 changed their designation to “region” and they formally became constituent units in a quasi federal system. The colony was obliterated in the same year by its amalgamation with the Western region. The revised constitution of 1954 gave the regions greater autonomy in the federation of Nigeria and made Lagos the federal capital. Political administrative policies and decisions by the British colonial administration spanning over a period of about fifty years of colonial Nigeria since 1900 accounted for the nature of the ethno-regional politics that has become a norm in the Nigerian body-politics since the colonial period. This analysis also helps in understanding why those revered statesmen thought and commented on Nigerian history the way they did as captured above.

It is in the light of this that Coleman’s submission on this subject makes meaning. He wrote:

Thus, accidents of historical acquisition together with the changing imperatives of administrative convenience were among the determinants of the present division of Nigeria into three regions …. They were also factors in the “regionalization” of nationalism…[13]

And due to the process of negotiation for constitutional independence for the country between the nationalist leaders, who were mainly from the majority ethnic groups of the country, and the colonial administration, their interest was also influenced along such parochial lines. In this regard, as the nationalist leadership that dominated the scene comprised mainly people from the majority ethnic groups, they bothered less about the issues that affected the minority ethnic groups. Top on the issues that had disturbed the minority groups in all the regions was the desire for the creation of separate states for them in all their respective regions. However, in an address in London in July 1956 Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe who came from one of the majority ethnic groups stated succinctly the twin goals of Nigerian nationalism “First, to attain full self-government and independence; secondly to see that all the component parts of Nigeria remain united.”[14]

Although, so-declared, the question of how and to what extent the Nigerian nationalists were genuinely committed to pursuing these objectives became a different thing. Ironically, it was the biased method and process with which the nationalists pursued political activities and the nature of the nationalists’ negotiation process of constitutional independence in favour of the majority ethnic groups that aroused genuine suspicion and fears among the minority ethnic groups regarding their future in the would be post-colonial Nigeria. In support of this contention certain submissions of Coleman may be useful:

During the early period of British rule, however, there was no minority problem. For this, there are two explanations. First, the native authority system was specifically directed toward the development of each tribal or nationality group according to the peculiar institutions and requirements of that group. Thus, in general, one cultural group was not cohesively made subordinate to another, except, of course, in the pagan middle belt where British policy legitimized an indigenous imperial system. Secondly, there was no minority problem in the early period simply because minority grievances and the recent drive to create new states are the result of, or a reaction to, modern political development. [15]

From the foregoing, it is clear that ethnic minority conflicts, since the colonial period is generally a Nigerian problem. As was the case in the Northern Region the Tiv group provided the minority ethnic group’s leadership in the struggle against the majority Hausa/Fulani ethnic dominance as will be seen below. This Tiv role angered the Hausa/Fulani majority group that was in leadership and control of the Northern Region which the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley region belonged to. Consequently the Hausa/Fulani leadership, as will be seen later fomented conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours so as to weaken the minority groups’ struggle against the Hausa/Fulani hegemony in the Northern Region.

Agitation for the Creation of States by the Northern Regions Minorities, the Willink

Commission and Implications on Tiv Conflicts with their Neighbours in Colonial and Post-colonial Nigeria

According to J.S. Coleman:

Mutual opposition to the British produced southern unity which, as seen, has never been very strong, but common opposition to the advanced and claimant southerners created northern unity, a unity not only among northern ethnic groups but among classes within these groups.[16]

There has never been such northern unity as has often been misunderstood by some people. A good number of groups inhabiting the Benue valley such as the Tiv, Berom and Angas, among others, had always resisted the dominant Hausa/Fulani Muslim group with its administration and refused to be part of its Sultanate in pre-colonial period. The successful resistance and warding off of the Sokoto jihadists and by implication the rejection of the Islamic faith with its way of life or culture embodied in the religion and usually serving as a unifying instrument were also rejected by these groups. The failure of all attempts by the Hausa/Fulani to bring these groups under its suzerainty was characterized by conflicts. Thus, at the advent of British colonialism, the groups that were forced into the colonially created administrative entity of Northern Region were not monolithic. Rather, the British aligned with the Hausa/Fulani to create and nuture a monolithic northern unity, oneness, solidarity, nationalism or sentiment which proved unsuccessful. [17]

The inability to achieve this goal partly culminated in the agitation for a separate Middle Belt Region by these groups against the intransigent insistence of the Anglo-Hausa/Fulani that the region must remain indivisible. With the creation of Northern Region by the colonial administration, what the Sokoto jihadist could not achieve in pre-colonial period – the conquest, unification and subjugation of the entire Benue Valley under the Sokoto caliphate- was presumably achieved under the British colonial administration. This explains the arrogance of the Hausa/Fulani Muslim North and total disregard for the other groups within the Northern Region capable of provoking disaffection from such groups. Moreover, it explains why the Premier of Northern Region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello had vowed that the region must remain indivisible in spite of persistent agitation for the creation of a Middle Belt state out of the region.

Therefore, it rather suggests that, if mutual opposition to the British produced southern unity, and that common opposition to the advanced and claimant southerners created “northern unity”, so did the domineering proclivities, imperialistic and arrogant tendencies of the Hausa/Fulani Muslim north exemplified and represented by the N.P.C. dominated party also provoke ethnic minority nationalism in the Benue Valley area.

A Nigerian commentator was therefore right to have observed in 1957 thus:

The N.P.C. would be well advised to drop its opposition to the Middle Belt Region. The little opposition it has offered so far has produced one of the factors which will hasten its disappearance from the political arena of Northern Nigeria. It re-united the warring factions of the United Middle Belt Congress which is now an important political factor to be reckoned with in the North. [18]

The decade spanning from 1950 was a turning point in the history of colonial Nigeria. It was a period that the Nigerian nationalists gave much more thought to the issue of selfgovernment for the country. Consequently, when this group of Nigerians, met with the colonial authorities in Britain in the 1957 constitutional conference to discuss the future of colonial Nigeria, the issue of self-government was one of those that top the agenda. Beyond this, the issues of minorities and states creation were also critical.

Considering the crucial position of the forthcoming Nigerian constitutional conference, the three Premiers of Nigeria, also known as the “Big Three” decided to meet on the issue. The Premiers – the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello of the North, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, of the West; and Dr. Nmadi Azikiwe, for the East met at government House, Lagos on the 16th and 17th of April, 1957 for preliminary talks on the matters due to come up before the conference on the review of the Nigerian constitution which was to begin from May 23rd to June 26th of 1957. The trio attended the preliminary conference with their advisers amidst criticisms from some Nigerians regarding the venue of the conference.

At this conference, minority groups also sent memoranda to the conference for their strong agitation for state creation to be considered and addressed at the forthcoming Nigerian constitutional conference to be held later in London. It was in line with this that the Daily Times of April 16th, 1957 reported that:

It is believed that one of the important matters which will occupy the attention of the conference is the case of monority groups. Already, it is understood a number of organizations have forwarded memoranda to the premiers for their consideration. [19]

It went on to explain that:

A delegation from the Obong of Calabar has arrived in Lagos to interview the premiers over the issue of a separate C.O.R State. The delegation is to meet Ibibio, Efiks and others at the Glover Hall, Lagos today. The citizens’ committee for independence has proposed, in a memorandum submitted to the premiers, that the present twenty three provinces of Nigeria should be renamed states of the Federation of Nigeria. It suggested that Lagos should be merged into the colony state while remaining the capital of Nigeria. The committee made several proposals which, it felt, should be embodied in a redrawn constitution for the federation. [20]

To further buttress the critical nature of the issues and how Nigerians were anxious about the timely resolution of the minority issues it is necessary to capture some of their views here.

One of such believed that:

Probably the most encouraging political news since 1953 is the news of the move which the leader of the NPC, Alhaji Ahmadu, Sardauna of Sokoto is now making in order to meet all the other leaders for the settlement of the major issues that are likely to prejudice the next conference. The most important of such issues, I think is the question of the creation of more state smaller in size than the present regions. [21]

One of such submitted that:

This is splendid and I earnestly pray that the NPC will view the question of states with national bias rather than with a regional bias. The creation of smaller states is the greatest and most popular decision of the masses of our people. It is also a fair compromise with those who look for a unitary constitution. A lasting constitution will be one which meets the favour of the people. This is the hour to make great sacarifices even against our persons and our tribes for the greater honour and glory of the country. [22]

In line with the above it should be added that such development also allows for self determination for those groups in their respective regions which is also a strong ingredient for true federalism. At the end of the preliminary conference it was claimed that:

Matters effecting the constitutional development of the country were discussed and a large measure of agreement was reached. Discussions were fully frank and cordial. The conference unanimously endorsed the attainment of independence by the Federation of Nigeria in 1959. [23]

In spite of the popular sentiment in favour of the creation of more states, the pre conference and the later Nigerian constitutional conference in London showed that the majority ethnic chauvinists represented by their respective Premiers were not really prepared to let go any of the minority groups in their regions despite lip service to states creation desire by some of them.

For the premier of Northern Region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, he had never pretended about this matter. He had always openly and unequivocally opposed the creation of a Middle Belt region from his Northern Region, insisting and vowing that it (Northern Region) was going to remain a one indivisible north. Due to Sardauna’s influence, it was reported in 1957 that:

At the last meeting of the Northern House of Assembly, the N.P.C. used its majority to reject a motion which sought the creation of a Middle Belt Region out of the existing Northern Region. [24]

Following the defeat of the motion that was adjudged to represent Nigerian popular opinion, a concerned Nigerian wondered in 1957 thus:

Two questions that arise from the fate of this motion are: Does the N.P.C. accept Federation as a system of government for this country? Does it accept one of its important conditions-namely that no section of a Federation shall be so large as to dominate other component parts of it? If the N.P.C. accepts these, then the fate of the motion could have been different from what it is now. Since the Regional Government in the Federation has a right under the constitution to split the territory under its jurisdiction, the N.P.C. should have supported the motion in principle promising to support the demand for the creation of more states. [25]

But rather ironically in the case of the Northern Region it became increasingly clear that anybody or group favouring such creation of a Middle Belt state was considered to be an enemy of the Sardauna and bound to have problems. Hear this:

But prior to this, Tarka had rooted for the creation of Middle Belt Region a demand which was to be his political albatross because of the Sardauna’s stalwart refusal for the dismemberment of the North which he considered monolithic. [26]

As the Premier of Northern Region was purely anti state creation in his region his hatred against the advocate or protagonists of the Middle Belt Region did not stop at Tarka but generally extended to his (Tarka) ardent supporters, especially the Tiv, in Post – colonial Nigeria. Consequently, the Sardauna’s party, the NPC in line with his desire dispatched a group, in 1957, to tour the Middle Belt area and openly campaign against the creation of a Middle Belt State. Among other things, it was noted that:

The tour, which is expected to last a month, will be undertaken by the Vice-President of the party, Malam Adamu Gwanto. He has been mandated to speak also on the financial requirements of a state and on a Regional Government’s recurrent and capital expenditure in the Middle Belt area. He will lecture on the minority commission to be set up by the Colonial Secretary. A statement issued from the branch headquarters in Jos stated that Malam Gwanto should try to convince the people against the creation of a Middle Belt state. [27]

Thus, an official of the United Middle Belt State Congress, a party that stood in favour of a Middle Belt State creation, swiftly reacted to this development, describing the campaign as “wicked and immoral.” Continuing further with the castigation, the official said:

…it was wicked because the NPC wanted to use its resources as a Government party to keep the people in perpetual subjugation. It was immoral because it would prejudice the case of the agitation for a separate state ever before the institution of the minority commission. [28]

However, the popular opinion of Nigerians was in favour of the creation of more states in the country as opposed to by the “Big Three”. Indeed, the unpopular and selfish posture of the “Big Three” was bound to attract the resentment of the minority ethnic groups who were largely agitating for the creation of more states. Therefore, the agitation for the creation of states for the minority ethnic groups enjoyed an overwhelming acceptability in 1957. A commentator on this subject was therefore correct to have observed that “The breaking up of the three Regions of Nigeria and the creation of more states has become the most popular slogan of the day.” [29] In spite of the popular opinion exhibited by Nigerians in favour of the creation of more states the “Big Three” successfully resisted the coming into reality of this dream. As noted above, because the three Nigerian Premiers were from the majority ethnic groups, they didn’t bother much about the minority ethnic groups’ interest. Moreover, as shown above, the Premiers were much more concerned about their respective majority ethnic groups in their regions instead of being genuinely pan-Nigerian. It was as a result of this persistent agitation by the minority groups that pushed the Colonial Secretary to constitute the Willink Commission to look into their (minority groups) fears and also finding ways of allaying those fears.

The history of minority ethnic agitation for the creation of states in colonial Nigeria predates 1957. However, this issue had not been popular before this date. We therefore agree with the position of the view stating that:

It must at once be fully recognized that since the interim constitution of 1954, several minority movements have sprung up demanding the creation of various states within the federation. The existence of some of the state movements found before 1954 was so vague, their collective voice so feeble, that no serious mention was made of them during the London and Lagos conferences. But today, the position is very different, state movements do not only command the studious attention of the regional legislatures but also go a long way to determine the policies and manouvres of the major political parties. [30]

In spite of this changing tide in the affairs of the ethnic minority agitation for the creation of states, it would suggest that the three Nigerian Premiers, blinded by ethnic chauvinism, found it difficult to accept this reality. And since the Premiers were against state creation, they did not make the desired presentation of this case in the Nigerian constitutional conference of 1957 in London. Since the colonial administration was an ally of the majority ethnic groups, especially the Hausa/Fulani, it (the colonial administration) expectedly avoided the serious treatment of the subject, preferring instead, to set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into the matter. Coleman was therefore right to have noted that:

…decisions on several critical issues were avoided or postponed….Again no decision was taken on such troublesome issues as minorities, the demand for new state….These problems were referred to special commissions and similar bodies, whose reports were to be considered by a resumed conference. [31]

Hence, in September 1957, a four man Commission was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Rt. Hon. Alan Lennox-Boyd, M.P. The members of the Commission were, Henry Willink (Chairman), Gordon Hadow, Philip Mason and J.B. Shearer. [32] Members of this commission who were appointed in London arrived Nigeria on the 23rd of November, 1957. Consequently, between that date and 12th of April, 1958“….held public sittings and had private meetings and discussions in each Region…”[33]

The Commission, after its findings, made recommendations which were embodied in its report generally known as “Report of the Commission Appointed to inquire into the Fears of Minorities and Means of Allaying them”. The Commission is also known after the name of its Chairman – Willink’s Commission.

To situate the genuine and popular agitation for the creation of more states purely within the realm of fears of the minorities was a wrong notion. If the three Premiers of Nigeria, who came from the majority ethnic groups and the colonial administration were to be sincere to Nigerians, including the minorities, they would have known and accepted that, having accepted Nigeria to be a Federation the most expedient thing to have done was to allow for the break-up of the inconveniently large regions of the colonial state, into smaller states for several reasons. In agreement with Toyo:

A federal state is a composite one made up of partially sovereign territorial authorities called component states, republics, regions or provinces. In a federal arrangement there are two kinds of sovereign, namely, federal sovereignty and component state sovereignty. [34]

Furthermore, under a federal arrangement the issue of reasonable self-determination by the constituent bodies is a fundamental ingredient. Therefore, having settled for a federation, the next line of action for a true or better federation would be, as earlier stated, break-up of the bogus regions, as the colonial estate of Nigeria was too large for just three geo-political and administrative regions. The Premiers’ unanimity on a federal status for Nigeria was not in doubt. For, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had, in 1957, said:

…that the West would keep within the Nigerian Federation because it believed it was better to remain a part of a bigger unit capable of wielding considerable influence in a world which paid attention to manpower and resources. [35]

Even Alhaji Ahmadu Bello was quoted as saying that“….In Nigeria the federal form of government is acceptable and has been found to be workable”. [36] Concerning the vast nature of Nigeria and the wide cultural diversity which we hold that was too much to be contained in the three regions we find Alahji Bello’s comment in 1957 very useful. It was reported that:

The Sardauna of Sokoto spoke of the vastness of Nigeria and the diversity of its people, its differences of culture and development. To operate any form of government in such circumstances is not an easy task. [37]

In spite of this realization, majority ethnic chauvinism of the Nigerian Premiers would not permit them (the Premiers) to allow the minority ethnic groups the opportunity of selfdetermination which the creation of states would have allowed them (minorities) under the federation. It was therefore contradictory for the Premiers to have accepted a federation without the concept of self-determination. In any case the Premiers preferred the suppression of the minorities in their respective regions and continued to view the groups (minorities) as appendages of their respective regions which they (the Premiers) must continue to maintain the status quo created in their favour by the British colonial administration.

The situation in the Northern Region may be said to be worse in the sense that the posture of the Hausa-Fulani leadership in the region appeared not to have recognized the presence and distinct nature of the non Hausa-Fulani and non- Muslim groups in the region. In other words, that the leadership behaved as if the entire region comprised only the Hausa-Fulani group and that Islam was the only religion practiced in this region. This perception of the Hausa/Fulani Muslim leadership in the northern region accounted for the so many unfavourable decisions it (the leadership) took against the other non-muslim groups in the region leading to the disaffection that had existed between the groups and the Hausa/Fulani Muslim group. Indeed, it was the result of this that gave rise to the persistent agitation for the creation of a Middle Belt State.

In 1957, according to his religious conviction, the Premier of northern region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello felt that women in Northern Nigeria should be disenfranchised. This feeling which was purely based on religious consideration did not consider a large population of the Middle Belt areas who were substantially a Christian population. This was expectedly criticized by the United Middle Belt Congress. Hence it was reported that:

Mallam Bello Ijumu, President General of his wing of the UMBC, has said in Kaduna that the recent statement by the Sardauna of Sokoto on the right of Northern women to vote in the Region’s elections is ‘political suppression based on religious intolerance’. In a statement yesterday, Mallam Bello said that the Sardauna had underrated the minority in the region, since he failed to consult them before making such a vital statement. The Sardauna was reported to have said in London that the extension of the franchise to women in the north was against Moslem tradition. Mallam Bello said that the statement was designed as a “political subterfuge” against women in the non-Moslem Middle Belt areas who were strenuously aspiring for political equality with their men-folk. [38]

Now considering the few examples shown here representing so many others not shown here indicating the religious and socio-cultural plurality or diversity of the peoples of the Northern Region, one would have viewed the federal status of Nigeria with the self determination ingredient as a welcome development for the country. Again, the concept of Federalism does not encourage or allow for the domination of a federating unit by the other units. Furthermore, it is also against the principle of federalism that one of the units be so powerful as to challenge the centre or central authority. Notwithstanding, the situation of colonial and early post-colonial Nigeria was a direct contravention of a federal philosophy.

The 1959 Federal Elections and its Aftermath on the People of the Benue Valley Region

By 1959, elections were no longer entirely new to the Nigerian people. Elections had been held several times since 1951. For instance, elections were also held in 1954 and 1956 before the Federal Elections of 1959. However, the election of 1959 was distinct for two major reasons. It was the one that ushered in post-colonial Nigerian indigenous leadership and by implication exiting, in a way, the erstwhile British colonial leadership. Also, it provoked the chain of activities, such as the NPC regional government’ vigorous attempt at eliminating Tiv opposition in the north, thereby ensuring the one north one people dream of the party and the counter Tiv intransigent opposition to the N.P.C. agenda that finally culminated in the chain of conflicts.

Before the commencement of the 1959 elections which started on the 12th of December of that year, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Nigeria and President-General of the Northern People’s Congress had, in September of the year, urged the members of the EXCO and supporters of the party to “put God first in anything they do”. [39] The Premier further noted that“It was the fear of God that kept the party along the path of fair play, tolerance, benevolence, humanity and justice.” [40] Declarations by Nigerian politicians at party rallies soliciting for votes are hardly taken to be realities. Such declarations are usually deceitful ploys aimed at hoodwinking votes for their respective parties and therefore never to be trusted. It was therefore left to be seen if this very declaration by the Premier was to be anything different.

In spite of the declaration, justice, fairness, humanity, tolerance and benevolence, as far as the minorities of the Benue Valley, who strongly agitated for a Middle Belt State contrary to the N.P.C.’s ‘one north one people…’ philosophy was concerned, such attributes so declared by the Premier were very far from truth. No sooner had the unassailable virtues or qualities of the N.P.C. been declared by the Premier himself than it became evident, through the utterances of the leadership of the party, including the Premier himself, and the way the party and its supporters pursued their activities that the declaration was but a hoax.

It is instructive to note that during the electioneering campaigns preceding the election, the creation of a Middle Belt State became the programme of the mass United Middle Belt Congress (U.M.B.C.) within the Benue Valley. Just as it has been shown by a contributor on this issue in Tivland:

… Tarka told the Tiv people of the good things that would come to them when a Middle-Belt State was created. The good things included a proportionate share in the distribution of the Regional and Federal resources. They would no longer be denied the benefits of the imposing buildings and institutions which were the exclusive monopoly of the big towns in the North, especially in Kaduna, Zaria and Kano. Education and over all development of the lower North would proceed at a faster rate than at present. [41]

Considering the fact that the Tiv and the other groups within this area had, before 1959, strongly agitated for a separate Middle Belt State but had been always frustrated as shown above, the message of this party was so appealing to them. Hence, the party enjoyed mass following among the people, especially the Tiv. Also, of considerable importance to note is that, before the 1959 election the U.M.B.C. party had gone into alliance with the Action group. This alliance had a reciprocal benefit for both parties in that, for the U.M.B.C. which was financially weak, the A.G. being the richest of all the Nigerian political parties at that time was to support the U.M.B.C. financially and its demand for the creation of a Middle-Belt State”. [42]

For the A.G.:

… at the time of the alliance, the A.G. was just embarking upon its attempt to become a nation-wide party by winning support in the East and the North. For this purpose, it relied not only upon its efficient organization and ample funds but also upon a strong appeal to tribal discontent among the minority groups in those regions… this represented a calculated strategy on the part of the A.G. to win nation-wide support and therefore the control of the Federal Government. [43]

With this development it became clear that the U.M.B.C. would, indeed, constitute a very strong opposition against the N.P.C. in the 1959 election and even beyond. This accounts for why the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa had to comment on the Tiv that:

It therefore became significant for the country’s history over the next five years that the official northern opposition, however small, was seen substantially to be the Tiv. [44]

But against the background that the N.P.C. stood vehemently against what it had considered to be the dismemberment of the North and its persistence insistence on ‘one north one people…’ philosophy, it is now to be seen if the N.P.C. would live up to the declaration of its humanity, benevolence, justice, fear of God, tolerance and fair-play.

For the N.P.C. leader, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello submitted, has consistently opposed all thoughts and attempts at creating states in the Northern Region at different times as can be seen in his statements such as:

If, as a result of the agitation for the fragmentation of this great Region, fostered and encouraged as it is so much by persons seeking their own political interests, the unity of the North is impaired or damaged, then I fear greatly that we shall step, not through the gates of the future into the broad prospect of prosperity which can lie before us, but back into the past, into tribalism, religious intolerance and violence. May God prevent it. [45]

Therefore, confronted by the U.M.B.C./A.G. alliance in the 1959 electioneering campaigns, the Premier who kept on fantasizing strongly that the north was a domain assiduously fought for its creation by his forefathers and therefore a preserve of the majority Hausa/Fulani group in the north, declared that:

…. it was a pity that a handful of Northerners had mortgaged their conscience only to satisfy their personal aim and were trying to destroy the tradition which his forefather, Usmanu Danfodio, struggled to build. [46]

This assertion is incorrect. This is because, the defunct Sokoto Caliphate founded by Usman Dan Fodio after the Sokoto jihad of 1804 was not synonymous with the later geopolitical entity created by the British colonial administration known at various times as Northern Protectorate or region, or as later known or called, Northern Nigeria. In that defunct Sokoto Caliphate, it is important to note that the Tiv and most of the minority groups in this region were never part of it. Moreover, such groups were never conquered and brought under the hegemony or suzerainty of the Sokoto jihadists as shown earlier. It is also important to stress again that the so much talked about, northern region or northern Nigeria or northern oneness is a child of British colonialism delivered in 1914 and nurtured thereafter by the same regime and its Hausa/Fulani collaborators in the north, but not a product of the earlier Usman dan Fodio jihad of 1804 as mischievously and constantly referred to, by the twentieth century northern regionalist jingoists.

`Though a wrong notion, it was the basis upon which the Sarduana, and indeed, the N.P.C. hinged their philosophy of “one north one people…” It was because of this conviction also that, as would be seen later, made the N.P.C. regional government in the north to take oppressive and repressive measures against the Tiv people in order to compel them (Tiv) to abandon their (Tiv) inconceivable dream of a possible Middle Belt State creation.

Consequently, Muhammed Ribadu, Federal Minister of Mines and Power, had to be so blunt by saying“… any move to take away an inch of land from the northern region will result in bloodshed. [47] On the part of the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, reacting to Tiv perennial agitation for the creation of a Middle Belt State and N.P.C. misrule and oppression in Tivland which he believed must have been due to the A.G. interference in the north, told the Sardauna’s Secretary Greatbatch in Kaduna that the police should not be afraid to open fire, “We must be firm and ruthless-you must forget you are a bature (European), and act as an African would act!”[48] Also, earlier in his private interview with Willink, the Chairman of the Minorities Commission, Balewa insisted that:

It is wrong that when Britain has done so much to create Nigeria as a country, she should just before giving us independence cut the country into little bits….If there is to be a new region… there would be great trouble and bloodshed and it would postpone independence by seven years….[49]

If the above statements of some of the foremost leaders of the N.P.C. are viewed closely, it would be seen that they (statements) do not represent or reflect genuine intention of a people who can be said to be sincerely committed to upholding the virtues of fair-play, humanity, benevolence, God fearing, tolerance and justice so declared by the Premier, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello.If, indeed the leadership of the N.P.C.were to live up to its declared virtue, since the people of the Middle Belt had not been part of the defunct Sokoto caliphate they (N.P.C. leaders) should not have seen anything wrong with the people’s (Middle Belt minorities) desire in having a separate Middle Belt State for themselves. Or was the Prime Minister, Balewa implying that whatever thing that was done or created by the British colonial administration was perfect or correct and therefore must remain untouched? Or was he implying that even if such things were wrong they should simply be left untouched because they were so done or created by the almighty British colonial administration? But then, it is a known fact in colonial history that at most times the colonial objective or motive behind most British colonial creations, actions and inactions were usually predicated on biased colonial interest and not really the interests of the colonized territories.

The development shown above reveals the pattern that defined or characterized the 1959 electioneering campaign. Therefore, while the N.P.C. rejected the idea of a separate Middle Belt State out of the northern region preferring to campaign vigorously for ‘one north, one people irrespective of religion, tribe or rank’, the U.M.B.C. campaign insisted on an irreversible proposal for the creation of a Middle Belt State. Consequently, the political atmosphere became dangerously charged or heated as the two political parties refused to shift grounds on antithetical goals or interests. Correspondingly therefore, while N.P.C. members promised bloodshed regarding the creation of a Middle Belt State, the members of U.M.B.C. viewed it, just as one of them, had succinctly put it “…. the Middle Belt was an article of faith which no power on earth could stop”. [50]

Also, during this period, religion and ethnicity were dangerously but freely emphasized and employed as potent campaign tools by all the political parties as they became desperate for the votes that were needed to win the elections. Consequently, while at Hadejia in Kano province, Sir Ahmadu Bello had cause to criticize the leader of the Action Group, Chief Obafemi Awolowo thus:

…allegedly disrespecting the Muslim religion. Chief Awolowo insulted Musilms when he allowed the Koran to be printed on his party’s leaflets and allowed the leaflets to be dropped in the Sarkin Musulmi’s house at Sokoto. The Sarkin Musulmi is the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sir Abubakar. [51]

Furthermore, the Sardauna said that:

…he was greatly troubled by N.E.P.U. supporters because they all believed that they were going to vote for Mallam Aminu Kano who was himself a Muslim. But the unfortunate thing which they do not know was that they were actually voting for Dr. Azikiwe, who was an “unbeliever”. [52]

Again the Sardauna was alleged to have told people, with respect to the 1959 elections that“Anybody who voted for the N.E.P.U. voted for Dr. Nmamdi Azikiwe, an Ibo man who did not know what Northerners wanted…”[53] Obviously, with this strategy of politicking and electioneering campaign, hatred, victimization and intolerance assumed a high dimension. Therefore, as the campaigns progressed, it became common to hear, from the opposition parties,  a number of accusations of victimization and intolerance against the N.P.C. party that was in power and therefore in charge of government and administrative apparatus, especially the notorious Native Authority. Consequently, the Premier of Northern Region and leader of the N.P.C. party, Ahmadu Bello, was accused of “…. inciting northerners against southerners”. [54] Similarly, Mallam Muhammadu Kokori Abdal, General Secretary of the Igbirra Tribal Union accused the N.P.C. of oppressing his people. He described“…the N.P.C. as a group of oppressors who employ undemocratic methods against the people of the division”. [55] Again, Mallam Abubakar Zukogi, General Secretary of the N.E.P.U. party accused the N.P.C. party of intolerance alleging that“…the N.P.C. was out to employ every means to keep out all other political parties, from Northern Nigeria”. [56] While addressing his party campaign meeting at Ilorin, Mallam Abubakar maintained that“…chiefs in Northern Nigeria were encouraged to make it difficult for all other political parties to campaign in their areas”. [57] Furthermore, he declared that“This is a flagrant challenge to democratic principles and makes the implementation of the fundamental human rights, meaningless and impracticable”.58Also, Mallam Bello Ijumu, Kabba Divisional Organising Secretary of the Action Group“…accused the Kabba Native Authority of discrimination in its dealing with opposition parties”. [59] In a protest letter to the Resident, Kabba province, he alleged that:

…a general permit had been issued to an N.P.C. leader to campaign anywhere in the division and at any time. Mallam Bello claimed that this had given the N.P.C. leader the opportunity of following up and disturbing Action Group campaigns. [60]

These examples make it clearer when, in his protest to the Northern Nigeria Premier, Alhaji Sir, Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and leader of the N.P.C., Mr. J.S. Tarka, leader of the U.M.B.C.-A.G. alliance, called for the suspension of“…all Native, mixed and Alkali courts in the region until after the Federal election”. [61]Furthermore:

Mr. Tarka requested Sir, Ahmadu to dissociate himself openly from the wicked and oppressive actions of some Native Authorities who were giving the impression that such acts were sanctioned by the Regional Government. [62]

Disturbed by this clear exhibition of disaffection which became the order of the day, Mr. A.T. Clark, Senior District Officer in charge of Igbirra Division:

…told a meeting of all political leaders in the division to desist from using abusive words and from attacks on personalities during their campaign meetings for the Federal election. [63]

But be it as it may, the federal election of 1959 took place in December of the year. And the result revealed the strength and popularity of U.M.B.C.-A.G. alliance in the Benue Valley Region where the agitation for the creation of Middle Belt State was stronger. Indeed, among the Tiv group that led the agitation for the creation of the Middle Belt State it has been strongly submitted elsewhere that:

The degree of political involvement of the Tiv was evident by the 1959 federal election: more than ninety percent of the registered voters went to the polls. The U.M.B.C. won a land slide victory. For example, Tarka obtained the highest majority in the whole of Nigeria—in Jengbar constituency where he stood personally. His party won all the seven seats in the Tiv Division, representing about eighty-five percent of Tiv votes; the N.P.C. won only ten percent and did not obtain any seat in the Division. [64]

Unfortunately, the result of this election led to very serious negative implications on the Tiv and their ethnic minority neighbours of the region generally. For instance, by the result, the N.P.C. and indeed, the Hausa/Fulani so-called majority group which was in power both at the regional and federal levels had been awakened to the realization of the Tiv minority ethnic leadership challenge against its (Hausa /Fulani majority ethnic) hegemony in the northern region and the political dominance of its wing, the NPC. This also implied a threat to the “one north, one people …”philosophy so much uncompromisingly cherished and advocated by the Hausa/Fulani dominant group and the N.P.C. Hence, the resolve by this group and the N.P.C. to break such Tiv leadership and minority solidarity within the Benue valley region, which acted as a home for substantial minority groups within the northern region, thereby, frustrating generally, the Middle Belt State project.

In trying to achieve this objective, the N.P.C. resorted to blackmail, oppression, repression and clandestine measures against the Tiv which were vehemently resisted by the Tiv culminating in the total breakdown of law and order as would be seen in the subsequent chapter. It is therefore in agreement with this contention that it has been submitted that:

The net result of the 1959 federal election was an increased determination on the part of the N.P.C. to break the Tiv opposition …. Later, the ruling party, N.P.C., began to view with extreme disfavour the A.G.’s incursion into the Northern Region through the U.M.B.C. To counter the growing influence of U.M.B.C.-A.G. alliance in the Tiv Division, the N.P.C. sought to use the machinery of social and political control available to it as a ruling party to win support of the Tiv, but merely succeeded in creating the conditions which culminated in the 1960 and 1964 riots. [65]

Similarly, it was alleged that“…the presence of the A.G. in the Tiv Division stiffened the determination of the N.P.C. to destroy the opposition in Tiv Division”. [66] Also, it was the follow up to the above thinking that led to the conclusion that“…it is clear that the NPC government of the north saw the Tiv as a major threat to its hegemony”.67Of equal significance, if not more, on this issue had to do with the views of the Premier of Northern Region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, that the real problem against northern unity was indeed the Tiv. This is better captured in the words of his biographer:

The constitutional issue of minorities during this period is also a challenge to the idea of northern community…. ‘Insiders’ perspectives on the Sardauna’s perceptions of the segments of the northern community vary, but there is a consensus as to the broad outlines. The Sardauna did not see Borno or Kano as centres of opposition, even though he regarded Aminu as a “born troublemaker” and fell out with Ibrahim Imam over the question of positions within the N.P.C…. The Sardauna regarded the main problem to be Tiv…. The Sardauna regarded Tarka( the leader of the Tiv group) as the most dangerous opponent, and felt he was being taken over by the missionaries who wanted to break up the north. The Sarduna did not regard Plateau as a problem, and had good friends and allies there: the chief of Birom, Bitrus Pam (who was his clerk), Pastor Lot, Michael Audu Buba, etc… [68]

Although we are going to look at this issue in the next chapter, nevertheless, it is important to briefly comment on those early steps mentioned above as employed to break such Tiv anti northern solidarity and unity leading to the negative implication on the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley Region, also mentioned above.

The N.P.C. and its Hausa/Fulani leadership having been convinced, as seen in the perception of its leader and Premier of Northern Region, that the main problem against northern solidarity and unity was the Tiv, had decided to break such Tiv threat using various strategies like, sowing seed of discord between members of the U.M.B.C. and J.S. Tarka, and provoking disharmony between the other ethnic minorities, against the Tiv leadership with a view to frustrating the creation of the Middle Belt State for the minorities of the area thereby maintaining or guaranteeing the status quo.

It should be noted that during this period the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Region had determined to lure some local influential members of the minorities of the Benue Valley Region into the N.P.C. at all cost. The people to be so lured were to be regarded as gateways or links through which an inroad was to be made into the Benue valley region with a view to achieving the strategy of the N.P.C. and the Sardauna. Among the Tiv, this strategy proved a total failure as such gateways were not found due to the stringent opposition of the Tiv against the Sardauna led N.P.C. Commenting on this issue Paden noted that:

Tiv division provides a major source of opposition to the Sardauna’s regionalist policies. Under the strong leadership of J.S. Tarka and Isaac Shaahu, the opposition is so strong that there are no real ‘gateways’ for the Sardauna in this area. [69]

However, in other areas of the Benue Valley Region this strategy proved quite successful. This has been clearly attested to by the Sardauna’s biographer when he wrote:

The Sardauna continues to tour Benue province each year, and follows his common pattern of meeting with local influential people to seek advice on how to improve relations…, a number of cracks in the U.M.B.C. structure began to appear, and segments break off, being lured into the N.P.C. The provincial commissioner plays a key role in encouraging disaffection with the U.M.B.C., and, in particular, J.S. Tarka is often accused of misusing party funds. [70]

Furthermore, a commentator on this subject noted thus:

While repression succeeded in making most other opposition areas “realized their mistakes and stop electing people belonging to irresponsible political parties”, it failed with the Tiv. The attempt to force the N.P.C. on the Tiv people made the Tiv determined to resist what they regarded as N.P.C.’s tyrannical authority in Tiv Division. [71]

Again:

The Idomas, Igbiras, Igalas and other ethnic groups in the lower North, had all swung their support behind the N.P.C., leaving the Tiv as the only ethnic group which refused to cooperate with the N.PC. The N.P.C. government had used the provision of promise of much needed amenities and jobs to play those ethnic minorities off against the Tiv. [72]

The Sardauna’s clandestine strategy had paid off in winning more votes for his N.P.C. party and frustrating the struggle for the creation of the Middle Belt State. Notwithstanding, disaffection created by the Sardauna had succeeded in setting the stage for future conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley region as will be seen later.

Concerning the issue of victimization, political coercion, intimidation and oppression, the Native Authority and courts were freely used to frustrate and break opposition. It has been clearly demonstrated that:

The instruments of coercion employed by the various organs of the Northern Region government against the opposition, as they were applied to the Tiv Division, included, among others, the extensive administrative, judicial and police powers of the Native Authorities. The machinery of control was extensive… The N.P.C. used the Native courts to intimidate the supporters of the U.M.B.C. In the North, the appointment, promotion, remuneration and dismissal of courts presidents and members depended on the N.A. Additionally, in Tiv Division, there was no separation of executive and judicial powers at the clan level; the clan heads were automatically presidents of the Grade D courts. They had powers of imprisonment of up to nine months and no right of appeal was allowed for their judgment. The partisanship of the courts, coupled with the legal costs of an action in the appeal court, where such an appeal was allowed, led most opposition supporters to rule out the courts as a forum to address their grievances….The oppressive use of the courts led to over-crowding Gboko prison, especially during and after the 1959 election… [73]

Also, it has been viewed that:

…the N.A. police was another weapon of control. The latter constituted a weapon of oppression in the hands of the Clan-Heads, tax-collectors and the Tor Tiv. In the Districts where policemen were attached to clan courts, they came too closely under the influence of the Clan-Heads who invariably used them against political opponents….One notorious Clan-Head arrested and detained tax defaulters in his own compound where he had a private cell. [74]

Another area of concern had to do with the N.A.’s control of patronage, especially control over appointments and promotions in the N.A. It has been shown that:

One of the qualifications required for N.A. appointment was loyal identification with the N.P.C. anyone who refused to show sympathy for the party stood little chance of securing a job with the N.A.; and, if he was already an employee, he could be laid off. Thus, in September 1959, the Tor Tiv succeeded in obtaining the dissolution of the Tiv N.A council which in consultation with him ran the day-to-day affairs of Tivland. It was replaced by a new council of Ten which comprised people with N.P.C. connections or sympathies—those loyal to the Tor Tiv. The latter made sure that he appointed his own nominees to the important portfolios in the N.A and attempted to replace serving officials with people of his own choice. [75]

Indeed, this can be said to have marked the apogee of the Tor Tiv’s display of anger against his “unruly” subjects who had refused to show sympathy to the N.P.C. party. Hence, the Tor Tiv was determined to deal with them (such erring or disloyal subjects), possibly with a view to pleasing his boss, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Premier of Northern Region and leader of the most hated political party among the Tiv at that time, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello. Thus:

Two months after the 1959 federal elections, several members of the N.A. staff, sympathetic to the U.M.B.C., were dismissed by the Administrative Secretary on the grounds that they were either redundant or that they refused to be transferred to some remote and unpleasant areas of the Division. The Clan-Heads who refused to toe the N.P.C. party line were similarly dismissed. Thus, Tarka Nachi, Tarka’s father, was dismissed by the Tor Tiv as the Head of Mbakor. Another, Mr. Akpera, chief of Sharon (sic), suffered the same fate on the grounds that he was slow in collecting taxes; and it was further noted that the latter, of all the fifty-eight Clan-Heads of Tiv, was the only one who had an A.G. poster displayed conspicuously in his compound whereas most of the other chiefs had displayed N.P.C. posters. Amenger, Clan-Head of Shorev, was also dismissed. [76]

Similarly, outside Tiv Division, the outspoken U.M.B.C. leader from the Plateau, Patrick Dokotri, was also dismissed as the Administrative Secretary to the Jos N.A. According to Paden:

On the other hand, Patrick Dokotri, as Secretary to the U.M.B.C., is working closely with J.S. Tarka to split up the north. The Chief of Jos, Mallam Rwang Pam, is in constant conflict with his N.A. councillors and in August 1959, a Commission of Inquiry makes recommendations and in September 1959, Patrick Dokotri (Administrative Secretary to the Jos N.A.) is dismissed. [75]

In spite of the repressive and oppressive activities of the Northern Nigeria N.P.C. government coupled with all the clandestine strategies employed to coerce the Tiv into submission and acceptance of the N.P.C. party it rather led to more chaos and problems as rightly captured by Trevor Clark, in his biography of the former Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji, the Right Honourable, Tafawa Balewa“The last months of dependency were marred by riots and burning in Tiv country”. [78]

Therefore, it can be summed up that at independence, the situation or picture of the Tiv and indeed that of the other minority groups in the Benue Valley region was a gloomy one. Of course, the Middle Belt State creation which was the foremost dream of the people, having been denied; much needed amenities also been denied the people, especially the Tiv group that had vehemently opposed the N.P.C. ruling party; victimization, political repression and oppression became the order of the day; with the minorities of the Benue Valley Region being played off against themselves by the Sardauna’s strategy. Indeed this situation accounted for Paden’s apparent submission that:

By 1960, the Tiv riots replace formal debate on the question of regionalism. The Sardauna makes a full report to the House of Assembly, detailing various instances of violence, and pledges the regional government to restore law and order, with a minimal use of force. In September 1960, on the eve of independence, the Tiv Native Authority is dissolved by the Northern Region Government and a senior District Officer is placed in charge. [79]

As would be seen later the Tiv uprisings that erupted as a result of the situation highlighted above further led to violent conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue Valley region. This is because the violent uprisings that started by the Tiv in Tivland did not stop in Tiv Division but escalated to other areas like Wukari and Doma thereby affecting other ethnic groups like the Jukun and Alago who were Tiv neighbours. Hence, there is need to examine those Tiv uprisings.

 

Endnotes

  1. J.S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism, Benin City, Broburg & Wistrom, 1986, p. 320.
  2. Ibid., p.320.
  3. Ibid., p. 361.
  4. I. M. Okonjo, British Administration in Nigeria 1900-1950, Lagos, NOK, 1974, p. 109.
  5. Arewa House, NDA 68, p. 5.
  6. Ibid, p. 4.
  7. J. S Coleman, Nigeria: Background to … p 261.
  8. Ibid, p 215.
  9. M. Crowder, The Story of Nigeria, London, Faber and Faber, 1963, p 278
  10. Ibid., p. 279.
  11. See appendix 1.
  12. Following series of agitations by the minority ethnic groups for the creation of States in colonial Nigeria, the colonial Secretary Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd appointed this commission to investigate into the fears of the minorities in colonial Nigeria and also find ways of allaying such fears.
  1. J.S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to… p. 48.
  2. Ibid., p. 384.
  3. ibid., p. 385.
  4. ibid., p. 360.
  5. The British colonial Administration in Nigeria favoured and aligned with the Hausa/Fulani because the traditional political system of the group allowed for indirect rule system which served the British colonial interest.
  6. Godfrey U. Egbuhuzor, “The Problem of Creating more states”, Daily Times, April 4, 1997, p.5.
  7. “Prelude to London talks: Three Premiers meet today”, Daily Times, April 16, 1957, p.1.
  8. ibid., p. 1.
  9. Aliyi Ekineh, “More About States,” Daily Times, April 4, 1957, p.5.
  10. Ibidi, p.5.
  11. “Full, frank and cordial talks, Three Premier unanimous on Indepenence”, Daily Times, April 18, 1957, p.1.
  12. G.U. Egbuhuzor, “The Problem of …” p.5.
  13. G.U. Egbuhuzor, “The Problem of…”, p.5.
  14. M.I. Aliyu, Democratic Heroes…, p. 404.
  15. “N.P.C. campaigns against Middle Belt State”, Daily Times, Aug.6, 1959, p.6.
  16. Ibid., p.6.
  17. Ebenizer Williams, “State issue may wait until nidepedence”, Daily Times, May 13, 1957, p.8.
  18. “Demand for States Creation”, Daily Times, July 14, 1957,p.11.
  19. J. Coleman, Nigeria Bacground to…,p.376.
  20. Report of the Commission appointed to Enquire into Fears of the Minorities and the means of Allaying them also known as the Willinks Commission,p.iii.
  21. Ibid., p.iii.
  22. E. Toyo, “Federalism and National Unity in Nigeria, Lecture given under the auspices of the Human Rights Committee of Nigerian Academic Staff Union of Universities and other Human Rights group in Benue State University Makurdi, 5th March, 2001.
  23. Ebenezer Willaims, “State issue May Wait Until…”, p.1.
  24. “Historical Day at Laucaster House”, Daily Times, May 24, 1957, p. 1.
  25. Ibid., p. 1.
  26. “U.M.B.C. Criticises Sardama on votes for women”, Daily Times, July 3, 1957, p.3.
  27. “Put God first before doing anything”, Sardama tells NPC, Daily Times, Sept. 18, 1959, p. 10.
  28. Ibid., p 10.
  29. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, pp. 89-90.
  30. Ibid., p. 87.
  31. ibid., p.87.
  32. T. Clark, A Right Honourable Gentleman, Zaria, Huda Huda, 1991, p. 527.
  33. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello, Zaria, Huda Huda, 1986, p. 351.
  34. N.E.P.U. U.M.B.C. urged to join N.P.C., Daily Times, Dec. 2, 1959, p.4.
  35. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello, p. 352.
  36. T. Clark, A Right Honourable… p. 447. Bature means white man in Hausa.
  37. Ibid., p.354.
  38. Ibid., p. 257.
  39. “N.E.P.U. U.M.B.C. urged to join N.P.C.”, Daily Times, December 2, 1959, p. 4.
  40. Ibid., p. 4.
  1. Ibid., p.4
  2. Ibid., p.6
  3. “N.P.C. Oppresses the people”; Daily Times, Nov. 23, 1959.p. 2.
  4. N.P.C. accused of intolerance, Daily Times, Dec., 2, 1959, p.4.
  5. Ibid, p. 4.
  6. Ibid., p. 4
  7. “Kabba N.A. accaused of partiality”, Daily Times, Dec. 8, 1959, p. 4.
  8. Ibid., p. 8.
  9. “Tarka wants N.A. courts suspended”, Daily Times, No. 23, 1959, p.2.
  10. Ibid, p.2.
  11. “Parties urged to avoid abuse”, Daily Times, Nov. 23, 1959, p.2.
  12. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics… pp. 90-91.
  13. Ibid., p. 92.
  14. Ibid., p. 87.
  15. Ibid., p.154.
  16. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello, pp. 317-318.
  17. Ibid., 307.
  18. Ibid., pp. 592-593.
  19. R. Anifowse, Violence and Politics… p. 89.
  20. Ibid., p.88.
  21. Ibid., p.94-97.
  22. Ibid., p.97.
  23. Ibid., p.98.
  24. Ibid., .98.
  25. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello, .346.
  26. T. Clark, A Right Honourable…p.
  27. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello. p.349.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

CONFLICTS AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN THE BENUE VALLEY 1960-2001

The Rise of Tiv Militant Revolts against the Early Post-colonial administration and implications on their Relations with her neighbours, 1960-1966

This chapter is concerned with events following the exit of the British colonial administration. However, this is not to suggest that the contending issues that had existed during the erstwhile colonial administration such as the indigene/settler phenomenon, ownership and usage of land, boundary issues, political problems, chieftincy affairs, tax issues and the fear of domination of one group by another had been addressed before their departure in 1960. These problems did not only outlive the colonial administration but also escalated under post-colonial administrations.

At independence the inheritors of State power were more concerned with perpetuating and aggravating these conflicts which were left unresolved by the departing colonial administration. This is because the political activities that produced this leadership were turbulent as most of the minority groups in the Benue Valley region had alligned with the Tiv to prevent the emergence of the Hausa/Fulani leaderhip both at the regional and national levels. Moreover, in the elections that followed especially from 1959 to 1964, the Tiv people had consistently given their support to the U.M.B.C/A.G. alliance at both regional and federal elections. However, this was not enough in preventing the emergence of the Hausa/Fulani dominated N.P.C. leadership at the regional level. Therefore, in spite of this challenge, the Hausa/Fulani dominated N.P.C. party assumed the mantle of leadersip at independence in 1960 at both the regional and federal levels.

Consequently, victimization, political repression and oppression heightened under early independent Nigerian Hausa/Fulani leadership in the north as the regional government had decided to be vindictive. But before the outbreak of violence that arose from Tiv rejection of the N.P.C. party, the Hausa/Fulani leadership in Northern Region had intensified official discrimination against the Tiv. Hence there was outright denial of trading licences to the Tiv members of U.M.B.C.-A.G. alliance. As avered by Anifowose, local liquor was brewed by a large number of Tiv women who required a N.A. permit signed by the Administrative Secretary, Mr. Atedze. [1] Furthermore, similar permits were also needed for the purchase of the two main cash crops of Soyabeans and benni-seed.The wives of U.M.B.C. supporters were often denied such permit. It is alleged that such U.M.B.C. members were even told to go and obtain such permit from Awolowo. [2]

Arbitrary taxation, brutal and barbaric method of collection, was one of those weapons of victimization. Members of the opposition party usually complained of arbitrary and heavy levies. The tax raid procedure made Tax Rate Clerks ‘Terror’ in the rural areas. People, particularly tax defaulters, ran away at the sight of them. Defaulters were arrested and taken forcibly to the council office or to the police station where they were either locked up in a cell or displayed in the sun. Some defaulters were sometimes jailed for a period not less than six months. [3]

Furthermore, attempt was also made by the regional government to use the Tor Tiv, Gondo Aluor, to coerce his people into the N.P.C , a great deal of the trouble in Tiv Division resulted from the partisan role of the Tor Tiv and his Deputy, Bendega Ukpada. To enhance the power of the Tor Tiv in achieving this, his office was changed from Chief-and-council to Chiefin-Council. Improved status increased his political power of control over the N.A. since he could now take decisions without the approval of the council members. [4]

Another important issue requiring mention as contributory factor to the precipitation of violent militant Tiv revolts against the N.P.C. regional government in the 1960s was the preceding dissolution of the Tiv Native Authority. The most important weapon available to the N.P.C. against any opposition was the regional government’s power to dissolve the N.A. council. This power was used against the Tiv NA. Before the NA Law of 1954 came into force, the first Tor Tiv, Makir Zakpe, ruled with a Tiv Central Council. This was a large and a representative body, whose members were clan and kindred heads. In November 1955, the Minister of Local Government approved the appointment of an Executive Committee of the Tiv NA. The ten members, apart from the Tor Tiv and his Deputy, were selected by clan and kindred heads at each intermediate area; the system of election was therefore traditional rather than democratic. [5] The period between 1958 and 1959 experienced the worsening of relationship between Tor Tiv and his councilors, particularly the five members of the Council suspected of having UMBC sympathies. In 1959, five of the ten members of the Council, mostly NPC men, were due for reelection by their intermediate area Chiefs and Kindre Heads; the other five, mostly antagonistic to the Council President – Tor Tiv, still had a year on their council terms. However, at a special meeting of the clan heads held in Gboko in 1959, Tor Tiv proposed that the whole Council should be dissolved. The Chiefs agreed to his proposal and it was immediately approved by the NPC Government in Kaduna. Thus, the Tiv NA was dissolved and ten new councilors who were mainly sympathetic to the NPC were appointed. [6]

The repercussion of this situation was to be seen in the violent expression of the 1960 uprising generally known in Tiv history as ‘nande-nande’. For instance, before the outbreak of violence in August, 1960 a petition summarizing the grievances and frustrations of the opposition in Tiv Division, was prepared and sent to the Premier, through J.S. Tarka, the U.M.B.C. leader. [7] The reaction of the Premier, the Sardauna of Sokoto, however convinced the opposition that they would never receive justice from the regional government. The Premier claimed that Tarka’s complaint was false and grossly exaggerated. [8] There followed a period when U.M.B.C. supporters openly defied the authority, justifying the slogan that, “where unjust rule becomes habitual and oppressive, men may pass over from passive political disobedience to active political resistance”. [9]

Thus, Tarka was alleged to have said that if the Northern Regional Government was unable to defend him and his U.M.B.C. supporters, in the absurd situation prevailing in Tiv Division, his supporters would have no alternative but to take any action open to them. [10] Consequently, normal activities and social gatherings were polarized. Where farming or dancing was done, it was strictly on party lines or affiliations. The situation in Tiv Division was indeed explosive waiting for the slightest opportunity to detonate. And this was to be found mainly in the actions of the N.P.C. supporters in the services of the Tiv N.A. As seen a number of issues contributed to the heightening of tension, it is important to look at the immediate causes of the explosion of the situation into the violent outburst of 1960 known in Tiv history as “nandenande” or “burn and burn” in English. In Makar’s contribution to this subject he noted that:

The first incident occurred in tar Mbatie in 1960. It led to the outbreak of widespread arson and looting, popularly known as nande nande or burn and burn, an event that Tiv history can never forget. [11]

Furthermore, he submitted that the Tor Mbatie, Ijer Agaikpaga, a stunch supporter of the N.P.C., did not hide his hatred for U.M.B.C. He put U.M.B.C. members in his domain under constant surveillance and would not even allow them to hold meetings or social functions. The power of the Tor to break up meetings held without his consent was justified by the law of the Tiv Native Authority. On the other hand, the N.P.C. held meetings without interruption. [12]

It should be mentioned however, that the U.M.B.C. members in Mbatie clan were defiant of the Tor’s orders and authority. They held allegiance only to the U.M.B.C. leaders. A showdown was therefore in the offing. Even wives of some U.M.B.C. members were prevented from crossing River Katsina-Ala at Buruku market which was under the domain of the Tor Mbatie. Early in 1960, the same Tor ordered the breaking up of one of the U.M.B.C. women’s social organizational conferences. Instead of dispersing in peace the U.M.B.C. decided to accept the challenge. A fight ensued and members of the N.P.C. were beaten up. As tension grew all blames for social ills were put on the N.P.C. – failure to go to secondary school, payment of taxes, and disorganization of family system. [13]

An incident at Yandev on 13th August, 1960, gave the final signal which ignited the nande nande incident. The Clan Head of Yandev, an ardent supporter of the N.P.C., Or Ako, sent his officials to collect taxes but two of his policemen and several tax collectors were beaten up. The U.M.B.C. apparently regarded all the Chiefs as enemies because they were supposedly agents of government since they were working for the government. The people were therefore set out to obstruct their performance of official duties. They would not therefore allow the Clan Head of Yandev to govern them. The people were no longer willing to accept advice except from their political leaders. Anarchy was at the corner. And in the end neither the N.P.C. nor U.M.B.C. could hold its supporters in check. [14]

The August 13th incident led to a series of incidents in other parts of Tivland. The situation in Yandev itself was very serious. More policemen were sent from Tiv N.A. on the 20th of August, 1960 to arrest the rioters but they were not successful. Several of them were beaten and three were shot with arrows.

The Tor Tiv intervened. The rioters listened to him but they also demanded the presence of their Clan Head who had fled to Gboko. They wanted him arraigned before the Tor Tiv. But the Tor Tiv feared for Or Ako’s life and would not bring him. The rebels then concluded that their allegations against the Clan Head were correct. This fanned the flames of revolt. Consequently, large scale burning and looting soon erupted and quickly spread to other parts of Tivland and continued till the end of October, though minor and sporadic incidents took place down to November and December, 1960.

There is no doubt regarding the centrality of the Yandev incident in igniting the violent uprising in Tivland in 1960. However, according to Anifowose’s account, the incident was consequent upon an address by the Clan Head, Or Ako to his subject at the Yandev’s market which had been legally established long ago by Mr Kumbur Akapi. Reports conflict as to the real content of his speech. The official police report claimed that he spoke about tax collection. [15]

However, others, including the U.M.B.C. alleged that the Clan Head (who was a strong supporter of the N.P.C.) was partisan in his remarks and criticized members of his clan who supported the opposition party. [16] According to the U.M.B.C. version, Or Ako, in the process of his speech sued for silence and then declared that he forbade the shouting of the slogan, ‘Tarka’, ‘Awo’. Consequently, some of his listeners were alleged to have laughed at him for using such partisan expressions. Following the scornful treatment by the audience, the chief left in fury, threatening the closure of the market. [17]

Thus, on the next market day, 13th August, 1960, the chief, accompanied by some Native Authority policemen, ordered the people who were buying and selling in the market to disperse or face arrest. However, the policemen were driven out by the people who were already armed with dangerous weapons, including bows and arrows. Thereafter, the Tor Tiv, escorted by some policemen went to Yandev, not to settle the misunderstanding, but to enforce the order of the Native Authority relating to the closure of the market. Following the intervention of the Tor Tiv in favour of the chief of Yandev, the people refused to submit to the authority of the Tor Tiv. Instead, they were determined to express their dissatisfaction by violent resistance if necessary. [18]

On 25th August, 1960, a complete anti-riot squad of the Native Authority police, armed with batons and shields was sent to enforce order closing the market. However, the police had to retreat in the face of a determined and fierce attack by an angry mob armed with poisoned arrows. In the process, three policemen were wounded. Further attempts to arrest some of the identified mob leaders were stubbornly resisted by the disaffected mob in Yandev. It was against this background of Tiv determined violent resistance against the maladministration of the early post-colonial administration which started during the colonial administration that the 1960 Tiv revolt broke out and became widespread throughout Tivland within a short period of time.

The Tor Tiv and the administration attempted to make contact with the incensed Yandev people on the 30th of August, 1960, but it was too late as the latter refused to yield, and there was a breakdown of law and order in the Yandev area. It was from here that the revolt of the Tiv people against the oppressive and repressive administration spread like wide fire to most parts of Tivland within some few days. There was indeed, wide scale arson. [19]

The burning was particularly directed against the property of N.P.C. supporters in Tivland, the Clan and Kindred Heads, courts Presidents and members, and tax collectors. This was so because all those were seen as agents of the hated and discredited Native Authority administration. At the Muslim stranger village of Gidan Uga in the Tiv area of Mbalagh, the village was compleately burnt down by the irate Tiv. It is important to note that during the 1960 uprising large scale destruction was basically directed against property rather than lives because property was the target.

This notwithstanding, minimal destruction of human lives on both sides (the Police and the Tiv) was also registered. An official government source indicated that sixteen deaths were confirmed as being due to the revolt- four resulted from police shooting and the remainder killed by people defending their property. [20] A police report also put the number of those injured at eighty three. [21] The official figure of deaths seems to contrast with Dent’s estimate of twenty five deaths and that of a senior police officer who put the figure at about fifty deaths and two hundred injured. [22] Notwithstanding this discrepancy, the figures still suggest low number of casualties considering the intensity of the arson.

During the period of the revolt most of the Clan Heads in Tivland were forced to flee to Gboko, the administrative headquarters of the Division, as the police proved ineffective in containing the situation and offering the required protection. However, the revolt had forced the N.P.C. Northern Regional government to carry out certain reforms within the Native Administration. After the1960 revolt had been suppressed, a lot of measures were employed to forestall future occurrence ranging from mass imprisonment of the people assumed to have perpetrated the act and the imposition of a punitive tax known as riot tax on the people with a charge that:

The sum of N1,011,954 shall be apportioned amongst and payable by every adult male tax payer resident in the area; in the financial year 1961/2 who is directed to pay tax under the Direct Taxation Ordinance, in equal proportion. [23]

To make up the general figure stipulated by the charge as representing what was destroyed which the Tiv were to pay, more than 50,000 Tiv tax payers had to find an extra N5:10K per head in addition to the general annual tax of N4:50K. Thus, in the same year, a tax-payer was expected to pay N9:60K; he was given only three weeks to pay, in default of which he was sent to prison for six months. [24] This imposition on the poverty-stricken Tiv farmers, no doubt, sowed the seed of future troubles. Therefore, this factor, among others, led to the outbreak of another violent uprising in Tivland in 1964. This time destruction was directed against human beings rather than property as was the case in 1960. The explanation for this might be that, “the people preferred to pay with their lives for killing their “oppressors” than to be forced again to pay for their opponents’ damaged property through a riot damage levy”. [25] Therefore, the target of the Tiv UMBC masterminded uprising was those in position of authority – the clan and kindred heads, tax-collectors, court presidents and the police. In several areas, policemen were ambushed and then killed or wounded. [26]

The level of intensity of the 1964 uprising was far greater than that of 1960. The casualty toll, both in civilian and police, was heavy. A total of twelve policemen were officially confirmed dead, with several reported missing. [27] Reliable official figures of civilian casualties are not available. However, according to the estimates by the Northern Region Ministry of Information, forty seven people were killed, nineteen by the police who were called in to quell the rising. [28] Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Region, on March 2, 1965, told the Northern Region Legislature that over three hundred people, including eleven policemen, were “slaughtered” like animals in the Division. However, unofficial estimates put the estimates put the number killed at between two thousand and four thousand with several hundred wounded. [29] The combined effort of the Native Authority Police and the Nigera Police Riot Squad could not contain the uprising. Consequently, some 240 troops of the Nigerian Army, under the late Lt. Col. Pam, Commander of the Third Battalion in Kaduna, were flown in as reinforcement before the situation was brought under control. [30]

It is important to note that the Tiv revolts led to conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours. This is because, during the period the Tiv were said to have attacked, destroyed property and killed Tiv and non-Tiv members of the N.P.C. inside and outside Tiv Division like Wukari and Doma. Commenting on this, the Secretary of Doma traditional council noted that such Tiv attacks on non-Tiv N.P.C. members of Jukun and Alago extraction created conflicts between those groups and the Tiv. [31] According to him it was those incidents that opened their (non-Tiv) eyes to the Tiv threat in the region. In support of the above contention Mallam Ibrahim Sangari

Usman is of the view that:

There was the sharp disagreement between the Tiv in Joseph Sarwuan Tarka’s United Middle Belt Congress (U.M.B.C.) – a party which was wholly dominated by the Tiv, and the Northern People’s Congress (N.P.C.), the party which the Jukun mainly belonged. This resulted in a bloody clash code-named by the Tiv atemityo meaning head breaking…. The year 1964 was to witness another round of Tiv violence of which the victims were mainly Jukun and Hausa supporters of N.P.C. They tagged that one kurawachacha, meaning clear all of them. [32]

In summation Mallam Usman concluded that:

The 1964 Tiv riots were in fact, so serious that the federal authorities in Lagos had to authorize military operations in both Tiv and Wukari Divisions before the carnage was brought under control. The disturbances led to enormous losses of lives and property. Although throughout the period of the first military regime in Nigeria (1966-1979) there had been an atmosphere of uneasy calm in Wukari and Tiv Divisions…the 1964 episode no doubt, made the Jukun to re-assess their relationship with their closest neighbours – the Tiv. Since then…mutual distrust was created between the Jukun and the Tiv. [33]

As seen from the foregoing it is important to note that the post colonial administration did not handle the Tiv people well as victimisation of the Tiv for their failure to belong to the N.P.C. party was the order of the day. However, the approach or method employed by the Tiv in responding to the post colonial administration’s ills was inappropriate. Attacking the N.P.C. party members of both the Tiv and non-Tiv groups did not augur well for cordial coexistence. Indeed, as it were, the Tiv attacks on the non-Tiv members of the N.P.C. rather led to further conflicts with their neighbours.

Post Colonial Conflicts between the Tiv and other groups in the Benue Valley Region from1960-2001

The Post-colonial administration that emerged following the departure of the erstwhile colonial administration in 1960 did not behave differently in the area of containing conflicts between the Tiv and other groups in the Benue valley Region. Hence, the Hausa/Fulani leadership that emerged in Northern Nigeria worked assiduously to further instigate or promote conflicts between the Tiv and other groups in the Benue valley Region. Thus, what comes to mind here is the leadership’s quest to perpetual divide and rule in order to maintain itself in power. As a result, it pitted the other ethnic groups in the Benue valley Region against the Tiv.

This is captured by Anifowose:

By 1961, the Idomas, Igbiras, Igalas and other ethnic groups in the lower North had all swung their support behind the N.P.C., leaving the Tiv as the only ethnic group which refused to co- operate with the N.P.C. The N.P.C. Government had used the provision or promise of much needed amenities and jobs to play those ethnic minorities off against the Tiv. [34]

Furthermore, the post-colonial leadership of the Hausa-Fulani aligned with other ethnic groups like the Jukun which it (the admin) treated as close allies within the region. By so doing, the leadership provoked hatred between such groups and the Tiv. Hence:

In the Wukari division, the Aku Uka is a key ally…and friend of Sardauna, which results in strong regionalist support, some observers argue that the Tiv leaders see Sardanua as a friend of the Jukun, and hence are anti-Sardauna. [35]

Following the 1967 military intervention which ushered in Gen, Yakubu Gowon as the new military leader of the country, the previous regional administrative framework was abrogated and twelve states were created in the country. By this, the former Northern Region was split into six states. However, the conflict promoting posture between the Tiv and her neighbours by the postcolonial administration continued. Therefore, military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida had in 1993 made a Statement …transmitted on an N.T.A interview to the effect that he was going to create more local government areas in Idoma to counter-balance what he called undue dominance of the Tiv in Benue politics. [36]

Consequently, the policies and actions of both the colonial and post –colonial administrations seemed to have given rise to the current vexed conflict issues or phenomena. These include indigene/settler question, ownership of land, boundary issues, political problems, chieftaincy affairs, tax issues and the fear of domination of one group by another which we shall dwell on below.

With respect to the indigene/settler question, as earlier shown, at the advent of British colonialism the population of the cultural groups of the Benue Valley Region was fluid. However, the colonial administration decided to erect rigidly defined boundaries among these groups. In doing this, the administration considered the Jukun over and above other ethnic groups, especially the Tiv. Hence, the ring fence policy aimed at keeping the Tiv people off perceived Jukun land. Later, when the ring fence policy failed, such Tiv that were inhabiting the areas outside the Munshi Province were considered by the erstwhile colonial administration as “settlers” as shown above.

In post-colonial administration the question of indigene has become an explosive issue with catastrophic consequences. It has often been pointed out that the 1999 constitution, as indeed all other constitutions since independence, comprehensively defines who qualifies to be a citizen of Nigeria but is silent on who is an indigene of a particular area, even though copious references are made to the concept of “indigeneship” in the constitution, such as in section 147(2) and (3) which provides for the appointment of at least one Minister from each state who should be an “indigene” of that state. [37] The indigene/settler factor has become a crucial cause of conflicts due to benefits and privileges tied to it in Nigerian politics, such as nomination for certain appointments including Ministerial and membership of Federal Boards, job spaces, school admissions, or even in extreme cases, differentials in school fees payable by “indigenes” and “non-indigenes”. Some of these tendencies now appear to have introduced some new complications.

In Nasarawa, the Alago, Kanuri (Beri-Beri) and the Hausa/Fulani who regard themselves as “indigenes” of the area consider the Tiv as “settlers” or emigrants from Benue state, which they see as the ancestral homeland of the Tiv. The Jukun view in Taraba state is similar. The Tiv on the other hand, claim that they have lived in those areas of Nasarawa and Taraba states since the 17th century, therefore pre-dating the creation of the states and cannot be regarded as settlers or immigrants from Benue state where they have never lived. They make references to the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Ijaw groups who are spread across several states in Nigeria as indigenes and wonder why the Tiv case should be different.

Instances of these conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours which have origin in the indigene and settler status abound. It is on record that the Tiv were involved in conflicts of different dimensions with their neighbours in Nasarawa state. In 1993 it was the Tiv and the Alago, the Hausa of Lafia took their turn in 1995. The conflict escalated to the Jukun of Awe and Keana in 1996. All these groups claimed that the Tiv were settlers on their land and as such should be subjected to their overlord ship. The Tiv on the other hand claimed that they had migrated to those lands and had settled there long before the period of British colonialism and as such cannot be deprived of their indigene status. [38]

From 1990 to 95 the Tiv Jukun crisis also erupted in Wukari. The Wukari Local Council decided to deny certificate of indigene to Tiv people on the grounds that the Tiv were settlers on their land and not indigenes. The Tiv were also demanded to pay taxes on the land they were occupying. On the other hand the Tiv resisted this and it led to a bloody conflict involving the loss of lives and property worth millions of naira. [39]

Furthermore the indigene/settler issue also sparked off conflict between the Tiv and their Fulani neighbours in Ardo Kola in Taraba state. The Fulani who felt they were the indigenes of Ardo Kola felt that they have every right over land to graze their cattle’s including the lands occupied by the Tiv. In the course of grazing their cattle they refused to acknowledge that their Tiv neighbours also have a right to the lands they occupy for their settlement and their farms. This led to a bloody conflict between the two groups with heavy casualties from both sides. The Mumuye of Ardo Kola also in Taraba state also had a feel of this conflict between them and the Tiv based on the settler/indigene factor. Taking instances from the Jukun where the Tiv were demanded to pay taxes either in kind or cash on the lands they occupy and farm also decided to demand same from the Tiv. And like in Wukari the Tiv resisted it and this also led to bloody conflicts between the Tiv and Mumuye in Ardo Kola. [40]

Timothy Tseror also writing on the Tiv Alago conflict as it relates to settler/indigene status states “The general feeling of Tiv being ‘Mbavaanya’ (visitors or settlers) on Alago land is quite pervasive”. [41]

In spite of these glaring difficulties faced by the Tiv as a result of the setter/ indigene status accorded them by their neighbours, the Voice newspaper of 25th January 1990 reports, “majority of the Tiv however, remain committed to staying on. They assert they have nowhere to go to because they are also Maanya” (Indigenes). [42]

From the few analysis and instances highlighted, it is clear to see that most of the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighours in the Benue valley have roots in the setter/indigene status created by the colonial and the post colonial governments. The Tiv people are perceived and treated as settlers, immigrants and newcomers in Taraba and Nasarawa states by those who feel that these states are their spheres of influence and jurisdiction. They felt that the Tiv should be restricted to Benue. This feeling has often resulted in seizures of lands belonging to the Tiv by the acclaimed indigenes.43 Illegal and arbitrary taxations are often levied on the Tiv people in those places and certain political rights are denied them based on this settler indigene issues. The resentment or reactions by the Tiv often led to violent clashes between them and their neighbours. [44] It is however worthy of note that this issue does not affect only the Tiv and their neighbours.

Interestingly however the Gbagyi, who are also scattered throughout the Benue valley do not appear to face the problem of settler ship which confronts the Tiv. [45] This view implies that the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours may have their roots in the settler/indigene phenomenon though there are still other factors that usually combine with this particular one to account for most of the conflicts that occured between the Tiv and their neighbours. As has been highlighted above, land ownership and usage just like the setter/ indigene issue has also been a source of conflict between the Tiv and their neighbours. This is because land finds expression in history (process of acquisition and occupation), culture and political administration of all the communities in the Benue valley. As rightly captured by the Tor Tiv “In many traditions land matters are closely tied with the custom of the people, hence it could be volatile.’’[46] Land as a critical issue in the conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours in the Benue valley should not be seen as a narrow resource needed for farming by farmers, grazing by grazers or building by those who want to erect structures. Indeed, these are important uses of land.

However for the purpose of this work ownership of land and indeed being an indigene should be viewed from the perspective of which group the British met at the time of arrival on such lands. The ownership of land in the Benue valley by the Tiv beyond the present day Benue state was acknowledged by the British at their time of arrival. In acknowledging this fact, Sir Percy Girouard, British High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria Protectorate wrote in a memorandum of 3rd October 1907 which was earlier quoted in our earlier assertion thus:

The Muushi (Tiv) tribes are at present divided amongst three of the Northern Nigerian Provinces; Bassa, Nasarawa and Muri and are also spread over a considerable area of Southern Nigeria contiguous with the province of Muri. [47]

Nevertheless, the same colonial administration in its later years formulated administrative polices which sought to change or modify the status quo of land ownership involving the Tiv and their neighbours. This is however understood from the perspective of the Tiv resistance to their occupation of their lands by the British at the time of occupation.

The bulk of the conflicts involving the Tiv in Taraba, Nasarawa and even their Idoma neighbours in Benue State are over ownership of the land. This land ownership has wider implications as it implies both territoriality and Jurisdictionality. This is to say that the owners of the territory are expected to exercise control over the political resources and administration of the land. Thus, by this assertion and feeling land is politics and as such politics is much rooted in land ownership.

Instances of land dispute between the Tiv and their neighbours have been captured by Tseor. Writing on the issue, he asserts “After the initial hostilities and wars of expansion, Tiv Idoma relations improved tremendously. This could be seen in their peaceful co-existence during the colonial period. The post independence period is important here because it marks the beginning of Tiv-Idoma hostilities in modern times. From the 1960 Tiv-Idoma relations have suffered for reasons ranging from land disputes to issues of lesser significance, which nevertheless degenerate into inter group conflicts. [48]

The 1964 Mbakpa (Tiv sub-group) violence between the Idoma and the Tiv could be seen as the first major conflict that ensued between the Idoma and the Tiv after independence. The issue was calmed by the police and both communities returned to their hitherto peaceful coexistence. The peaceful co-existence of the Tiv and Idoma did not last long. In the late 1960s hostilities broke out between the Tiv and Idoma. These hostilities had their roots in disputes over land.

The first Tiv-Idoma conflict over a fish pond was recorded in April 1987. In 1989 these clashes were becoming more violent in nature. In November of that year, according to Idoma sources as highlighted by Ochai, Idoma women were fishing at a pond known as, Ber Dajo’ when people from Agagbe (Tiv) allegedly attacked them. [49] However, Tiv sources assert that it was Tiv women that were attacked by the Idoma. [50] As a result we may not be in a position to ascertain who started the conflict. What is however certain is that in the accompanying violence six people were left dead. Out of this six, four were beheaded. A pregnant woman was also shot dead in a stream close to the pond. The Benue state government acted by declaring a buffer zone on the area and both parties were warned against trespass. [51] Governor Fidelis Makka commenting on the issue warned that “District heads who allowed land disputes to escalate in their domains due to negligence, partiality or failure to report cases to appropriate quarters on time would be penalised”. [52]

On 1st January, 1990 there was a fresh outbreak of violence in the same Mbakpa/Okokolo area. This violence like the pond issue was also centered on land. Houses were set ablaze, lives and property were lost. The voice newspaper of 2nd January, 1990 reported the incidence as, “…the most bloody Tiv-Idoma disturbance in modern times”.53Continuing, the report states, “In one campaign, Amogede (Umogidi) village was completely reduced to shreds. They (Tiv) succeeded in killing eleven persons there.” [54]

In the Aloshi area of Nasarawa State, the Tiv have actually fought the Mkwarra whom they believed have found favour with the Alago and were being allocated those farmlands formerly owned by the Tiv. In April, 1991 a Tiv man was alleged to have woken up one morning to discover that a piece of land that he had cultivated and owed for decades had been reallocated to an Mkwarra man by the Tor Jia “meaning Chief of Keana”, the Tiv man went ahead and cultivated his land, when the Mkwarra man came round and destroyed the moulds, a violent clash developed between the generality of Tiv in the area and Mkwarra people. This conflict left one of the police men who had gone to restore law and order in the area dead. [55]

As shown in earlier analysis the issue of land ownership and usage as a source of conflict between the Tiv and their neighbours should be viewed from the perspectives of land as a scarce resource needed by a farmer to farm, or a grazer to graze or building by those who want to erect structures. This is in view of the fact that the Tiv and their neighbours had prior to the colonial and after colonial periods co-existed peacefully with their neighbours on those same lands that now constitute the bulk of their conflicts with their neighbours. The change in that trend can be best explained in the colonial and post colonial policies that transformed land ownership and usage into scarce commodity involving both territorial and jurisdictional implications. As has earlier been asserted the ownership of land and usage became associated with indigene/settler status culminating in prevalent socio economic & political rights. The exercise or denial of such rights to particular persons can greatly be seen as the source of conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours.

Conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours cannot be explained in the indigene/settler status or land ownership and usage alone, boundary disputes, like the other factors, also contributed in no small measure in causing conflicts involving the Tiv and their neighbours. Conflicts that have roots in the boundaries between the Tiv and their neighbours can also be traced to the colonial and post colonial periods. It has been clearly highlighted in our earlier submission that clear-cut boundaries between ethnic groups were unknown and that it was difficult to attempt to create geo-political boundaries based on ethnic identities. This fact was clearly highlighted even in post colonial administration where it was thought that creating boundaries between states would also represent effective boundary lines for cultural groups. The difficulty of this has been captured by a commentator as has been quoted in our earlier assertion thus:

Those who talk about boundary or adjustment miss the point in the volatile matter. You can have a boundary between Benue and Taraba State but where is the boundary between the Tiv and the Jukun? There are Jukun settlements everywhere in Benue State and that if one wished to limit them to Taraba State, then Makurdi, the Benue State Capital can as well become part of Taraba. Also going by the prepondering of Tiv settlements in Taraba State an attempt to cede such settlements to Benue could as well drag more than half of the state into Benue State. Nowhere else could the diction “boundaries are for mere administrative convenience” be more apt than in the middle-belt and particularly with Benue and Taraba States. [56]

In spite of these facts both the colonial and the post colonial administrations in Nigeria attempted creating rigid boundaries between the Tiv and their neighbours. This attempt which often negates the pre-existing order often sowed the seed of discord and has continued to be another cause of conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours.

The Njiriv-Icho border area crisis between the Tiv and their Idoma neighbours readily comes to mind. It is on record that in February 1989, the Njiriv-Icho area border exploded into open violence. The border land had been in dispute for long but had never escalated into open war until February, 1989. The outbreak of full scale war had been attributed to one Odumu Winston, an Idoma man who allocated the disputed boundary land to Cadbury Nigeria limited for farming. The Tiv objected the allocation of the land by Mr. Odumu, claiming that it belonged to them (Tiv). In the ensuing fight, more than twenty houses were burnt down, while property, worth over 100,000 naira was destroyed. Dangerous weapons were freely used in this war and the police were said to have recovered six cartridges used in the war. Casualties included one Idom named Elija Odumju and a Tiv man Akav Yuagba and his wife. The disputed border land had since been declared a buffer zone by the Benue State government. [57]

The Tiv-Jukun crisis is also another case of conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours with roots in boundary issues. The post colonial government’s states creation also saw cultural groups split into different states. In the case of the Tiv, the group was also included in Taraba state in Local Government Areas as Takum, Wukari and Ibi. However, the Jukun, laying claim to Taraba State wanted the Tiv that were included in the Taraba divide to relocate to Benue State and vacate their “Jukun lands”. The Tiv on the other hand felt they had occupied and owed such lands long before the creation of Taraba State and therefore claim ownership of the lands. This has become a source of perennial conflicts between the Tiv and the Jukun often leading to loss of lives and property.

Political issues like the others discussed above have also caused discords between the Tiv and their neighbours. Even the above issues discussed like, indigene/settler, land ownership and usage and boundary are interrelated with politics. As has earlier been discussed the emphasis on indigene/settler status as a cause of conflict between the Tiv and their neighbours became manifest with the political consideration attached to it. The indigene/settler status became heightened as a result of rights and privileges accompanying such status. Thus, the granting or denial of such rights has become a source of perennial conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours.

The post independence period in Nigeria witnessed the outbreak of hostilities between the Tiv and their neighbours that had political undertones. In 1964 hostilities broke out between the Tiv and their Idoma neighbours. In 1964 the Raav (Tiv) people burnt down the Idoma settlement of Adugbe. This violence was attributed to the fact that the Idomas belonged to the NPC while the Tiv were predominantly in the UMBC. The Tiv considered the Idoma as enemies and callobrators with the Moslem led NPC. [58]

In Nasarawa state, the Hausa-Fulani/Tiv crisis was also attributed to political factors. The Hausas of Lafia accused the Tiv of attempts to annex the Southern Nasarawa Senatorial district to the present day Benue state. They claimed that the Tiv were living in Nasarawa state but paying allegiance and taxes to the Benue State government. Hence, farmlands belonging to the Tiv in Nasarawa state were seized. The Emir of Lafia also levied taxes on the Tiv to compel their allegiance. The Tiv on the other hand held a contrary view to the actions of their neighbours in Nasarawa state. They saw the action of their neighbours as an attempt to curb their political influence in view of their large population in the state. They claimed that the smaller ethnic groups have ganged up against them to frustrate their political interests. Between 1964 and 1965 violent hostilities broke out with heavy casualties on both sides. [59]

The Tiv-Jukun crisis of 1977-78; 1990-93 and 2001 could also be traced to political reasons. The Jukun who have often been keen on controlling the politics of Southern Taraba have often been frustrated by the Tiv as a result of their (Tiv) large population. Attempts by the Jukun to compel the Tiv to accept them as the political leaders of the Southern Taraba have always failed. The Tiv, in spite of weak political fortunes in Taraba State, have continuously refused to acknowledge the Aku Uka of Wukari as their leader. Thus, the Jukun in order to assert their political control of Southern Taraba have resorted to adopting certain punitive measures against the Tiv whom they consider as settlers on Jukun lands. [60] A critical analysis of these crises has revealed that these conflicts usually come at the heels of census exercises, registration of voters or when elections are around the corners. This, the Tiv believed is targeted at frustrating them from being counted, registered and even exercising their franchise in Taraba State. This is a clear indication that the conflicts are politically motivated.

The conflicts involving Tiv and their neighbours also have roots in chieftaincy affairs. In many instances, the spillover effects of some of the above mentioned issues prompted the conflicts. As has been stated in earlier submitions, chieftaincy issues, like the other factors, have also caused conflicts between the Tiv and their neighbours. In Wukari for instance, the Tiv people have not hidden their contempt for the Aku Uka as their leader. In fact, the Tiv did not acknowledge the Aku Uka as their leader and continued to treat him and his officials contemptuously. Nevertheless an episode occurred in 1954 that could have led to conflict between the Tiv and the Jukun. It is alleged that a Tiv, Manu Uva Vaase demanded to be installed as the Aku Uka of Wukari. He was said to have even led a two mile procession of ‘armed Tiv Militia’ to press his demand. The then Aku Uka Atoshi Agbumanu brought the situation under control by calming down his Jukun subjects against any reaction. The incidence was however viewed as an assault on the chieftaincy institution of the Jukun and thus elicited bad feelings that were later to explode into open conflicts and war between the Tiv and the Jukun. [61]

The Alago of Agwatashi accused the Tiv of not paying due respect to their leaders, the Andoma of Doma; Osoho of Agwatashi and the Osama of Keana. Instead the Tiv pay allegiance and respect to the Ter Guma who is a traditional ruler in Benue State. [62] The Tiv on the other hand felt they should be granted their own chiefdom with their own separate institutions. The Tiv anchored their claim to separate institution and chieftaincy on the fact that they were distinct from the Alago in terms of cultural heritage and as such cannot be subjected to the traditional institutions of the Alago people.63 As a result of this chieftaincy issue violent clashes erupted in May 1990 between the Tiv and their Alago neighbours regarded in history as the Doma war. This war, though principally sparked by chieftaincy issues as has been highlighted above also contained the fear of domination of Alago land by the Tiv whom they (Alago) considered as settlers. At Kpata, the Tiv and Alago engaged each other in fierce fighting and scores of Tiv and Alago compounds were burnt.64The Doma war between the Alago and the Tiv has far reaching implications on not just the Benue Valley but on the entire Nigerian nation.

This is because while the people were involved in violent fighting a group of Tiv intellectuals in Washington addressed, to Senator Russeil Feingold, member, United States Senator Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman Sub committee on Africa Affairs, a special presentation titled, “The Massacre of Tiv people in Central Nigeria.” [65]  The group adduced in the document that “The Tiv people are subjects of deliberate discrimination and deprivation in the area of land use, education, political representation and employment at state and local levels”. [66] In a conflict like this it is expected that only the internal forces will be involved but with this approach by the Tiv intellectuals the conflict became internationalized with serious implications.

As has been noted, one factor of conflicts leads to or has implications on the others. Having outlined the issues that border on indigence/settler status, land ownership and usage, boundary issues, political as well as chieftaincy, it is reasonable to submit that all those factors could only by meaningful with that of fear of domination of one group by another.

A glaring insight on this phenomenon is expressed in a memorandum written by three groups in Takum, Wukari and Donga, of Taraba state titled, “The fear of domination of one tribe by another” [67], addressed to the military governor of Benue Plateau state, Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Gomwalk. In the memorandum the groups outlined their grievances against the Tiv. In the said petition they condemned the government proposal to create a state that will comprise Wukari and Tiv. They proposed rather, the creation of a state that would include the Plateau, Igala and Southern Zaria who would serve as neutralizing forces against their domination by Tiv. This memorandum has explained clearly the age-long conflict between the Tiv and their neighbours’ outright fear of domination by the Tiv.

Conflict Management in the Benue Valley since Independence

Conflict management mechanisms usually put in place in Nigeria are generally poor. With respect to the conflicts that have occurred in the Benue valley, government action sometimes appear to suggest that it (government) desires or courts conflicts because it has authority over agents of coercion and weapons of very high destruction. Moreover, in most instances, at the eruption of conflicts the governments usually proved very poor in the area of effective management of such conflicts. This situation has basically remained so since postcolonial Nigeria. For instance, it was possible to prevent the violent Tiv uprisings of 1960 and 1964. The Tiv had led the agitation for the creation of a Middle Belt State in the 1950s, however, the state was not created. But to worsen matters, the NPC Northern regional government led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello went further to view this Tiv action with a lot of disfavor, interpreting it as an attempt at “dismemberment of the North”, aimed at breaking Northern solidarity.

Consequently, the government decided to take a decisive step towards dealing with the “errant” conduct of the Tiv. Again, when the Tiv opted for an opposition party – UMBC, it did not go down well with the NPC Hausa/Fulani dominated regional government in the Northern Region. Therefore, such attempts made by the NPC- based leadership in the North to impose the NPC party on the Tiv with a view to guaranteeing electoral victory for the party were coercive, oppressive and repressive. This action by the Northern Regional Government was quite improper and capable of generating conflicts.

Commenting on this Elaigwu wrote:

By the time the first explosion came in August 1960, the Tiv had exhausted their patience and tolerance for the local functionaries of the NPC regime. The government having made it impossible for legitimate opposition voices to be heard, made itself vulnerable to violent aggression…it is clear…that resistance to political oppression stood at the centre of Tiv revolt. Thus, using legal and administrative measures without redressing the fundamental political questions could only exacerbate rather than resolve the contradictions. [68]

Furthermore, Elaigwu maintain that:

From the fact available, it is clear that in spite of clear wishes of the Tiv to chart a different political course from the NPC, fully expressed through the ballot box, the NPC – controlled regional government insisted on bringing the people to toe the line. Thus, where concession would have worked, coercion was preferred, where gentle persuasion would have done the trick, the excesses of NPC functionaries on the spot were overlooked from Kaduna. The more pressures the NA mounted on the Tiv the more their capacity for violence was manifested, with a corresponding potentiality of the regional and Federal governments to respond in kind. [69]

This situation culminated in the massive deployment of the police to the Tiv Division, and when the police could not contain the situation, the massive military force was deployed by the Federal Government with a charge that it should enforce order in the war torn Tiv division. In spite of this charge it was difficult to enforce the order on a sustained period. Hence, the military had to remain in the Division till the first military takeover of 1966. Hence, Elaigwu submitted that:

In November 1964, 3NA together the Recce Squadron was deployed following sustained violence against persons on an unprecedented scale. Troops were never withdrawn again thereafter until the outbreak of the civil war. [70]

And as he further observed:

In the 1960s the military was deployed to Tiv Division again and again, when all that was needed was simple political concessions to the agitated Tiv population. However, the fear was that such a concession would expose the bogus homogeneity of the North, undermine the authority of the regional government and the integrity of the NPC dominated Federal government. [71]

From the foregoing principles regarding the handling of the Tiv conflicts in the 1960s, it is clear to discern that since the post-colonial period, the strategy used in managing conflicts basically remains the same which is that of the traditional approach to conflict management. Hence, the justification of Avav’s submission with respect to government handling of Jukun/Tiv conflicts in the 1990s that:

The steps taken by government to manage conflict between the Tiv and the Jukun, which from its magnitude should have received priority attention, were quite inadequate. It was not out of place to suggest that government did practically nothing in the area of conflict resolution. The only steps taken were in the traditional authoritarian model using state power/force to trash the violent aspect of the conflict. The underline issues however, remained untouched. [72]

This strongly collaborates the case of Tiv conflicts with other ethnic groups in Nasarawa state in 2001 as captured by the speech of the then Governor of the state, Abdullahi Adamu that:

Admittedly, there have been occasional hiccups in inter-tribal relations such as disputes over farm land and grassroots traditional leadership between Tiv and some other ethnic groups in the past. Such minor flare ups were always amicably resolved. No violence on this scale we have just witnessed has ever occurred between the Tiv and other ethnic groups in the state. Something must have gone badly wrong somewhere to give rise to these brutal and savage killings. It is a degeneration of our collective sense of moral responsibility. [73]

Such traditional attitude or approach by Government can be said to have characterized the Tiv uprising of 1964 discussed above. Similar Government attitude towards conflict situation can be multiplied to include persistent Tiv conflict with other ethnic nationalities in the Benue Valley Region in post colonial Nigeria. For instance, the Tiv-Jukun conflicts over boundary in Benue and Taraba were badly handled by the Government. In 1992, there was eruption of conflict between the Tiv and the Jukun which the Government deployed the military to Wukari and Ibi Local Government of Taraba State which were the theaters of the conflict in order to suppress or to put an end to the conflict.

Furthermore, the Tiv-Alago conflict in Nasarawa state occurred in 2001 with similar Government response. The 2001 conflict involving the Tiv and the Jukun in Taraba State cannot be said to have been approached differently by the Government. It is important to note that such post colonial conflicts and even the ones before them which the Tiv and other ethnic nationalities or groups experienced had always had their early warning signals before their eventual occurrence.

However, the Government had always shown negligence in the area of preventing their outbreak. For instance, as shown in the complaint with an accompanying receipt by Mr, Nicholas Audu in a dispute over Audu farms to the Committee of investigation of the said dispute. [74] He reported the aparthy in approval of Certificate of Occupancy over his farm land and pleaded the Committee to see to it that his piece of farm land is not taken away from him and sold to other people. The Government did nothing about this complaint. Again, one Mr Mathias Gada wrote and complained to the Executive Chairman, Obi Local Government Council, on the 7th of June, 2001, that the District Head of Obi decided that he was going to share his piece of land and give parts to thirteen other persons in Obi town against his wish but Government did not act to stop the plan.

Furthermore, the Tiv Development Association in Azara District reported to the then Government of Nasarawa State under Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, on the 10th of March, 2001, about incessant terror of the Tiv people in Azara chiefdom but no actions were taken to settle the problems before they could break into conflict by the Government.

Similarly, on the 24th of April, 2001, Mr. Richard Utagher reported to the Commissioner of Police in Lafia the Sarkin Azara, Alhaji Ibrahim, for the attack and burning of Utagher village; yet, no actions were taken to investigate and prevent further outbreak of conflict by the Government.75 As a follow up, another report by John Torkuma Madaki was made to the Commissioner of police, Nasarawa State, about threat to life of Richard Utagher by Alhaji Musa Ibrahim, Sarkin Azara, was not attended to.76 Also, the Tiv youth organization in Lafia, Nasarawa State, wrote to the Assistant Inspector –General of Police, Zone 4 Command Headquarters, the Nigeria Police, Makurdi, about the attempt on the life of Mr. Fidelis S. Ikyambe but no actions were taken to save the situation. [77] More so, another open letter was written by the Tiv Youth organization (Tyo) in Lafia to the then Governor Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa State about war of Genocide against the Tiv people in the state without prompt actions on the part of the Government to handle the situation and prevent outbreak of conflict. [78] Before this another Tiv association in the area, Tiv Development Association (TIDA) had written a similar complaint to the same Governor, Abdullahi Adamu. [79]

Surprisingly, these complaints were not attended to until the brutal murder of Mr. Benjamin Shaminga in Azara chiefdom, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The Tiv Youth in Lafia, again, complained against this brutal murder of Mr. Benjamin Shaminga to the Assistant inspector General of Police, Zone 4 Head Quarters, the Nigeria police, Makurdi, Benue State, but the complaint did not receive any precautionary attention at preventing further outbreak of conflict. [80]

From the foregoing evidence, it is clear that post-colonial Government in Nigeria has continued to neglect series of complaints which if properly addressed, could have prevented the outbreak of conflicts in the Benue Valley. For instance, the case of Sarkin Azara, as noted above, if Government had investigated the complaints against him, with a view to finding solution to issues raised, it is possible that his murder might not have taken place because it was the singular act that led to chain of conflicts. Following his murder, the Azara people had suspected Tiv of complicity in that unfortunate act. On the basis of this suspicion, they attacked the Tiv. Consequently, the Tiv embarked on reprisal attacks culminating in the general outbreak of violent hostilities in the area in 2001.

Thus, the general approach by the Government in these conflict situations has always been the same, leading to the general outbreak of conflicts in the Benue Valley since independence as shown above. Hence, Government has not been able to prevent perennial conflicts in the region. At certain instances where Government had employed certain measures as the institutions of commissions or committees, available evidence indicate that Government was not sincere with genuinely finding solutions to the conflict because such commissions’ or committees’ recommendations made for implementation are hardly attended to.

For instance, the Government appointed a commission of inquiry in March, 1964, called The Coomassie Commission, to examine the background of violence in Tiv Division and to recommend a system of Local Government that will be capable of serving the interest of the Tiv people as well as command their respect. Unfortunately, however, the Northern Regional Government failed to implement the recommendations of the Coomassie Commission. More so, the Justice Mamman Nasir Commission on Boundary Adjustment gave its recommendations in 1976 as follows:

a) The border Villages of Sai, Vaase, Gbeji and possibly Abako be merged with Benue State since they were largely inhabited by the Tiv, and

b) Kashimbilla be merged with Benue State since it was on Tiv side of the Katsina Ala River.

However, as Avav, noted, the Federal Government remained silent over the Commission’s recommendations. [81] Finally, the Abuja peace meeting of 1992 over the problem of the Tiv and Jukun in Taraba State arrived at the following 10 point agreement:

1) The two traditional rulers, the Tor Tiv and the Aku Uka were directed to join hands and work together for peace.

2) The Aku Uka was to invite the Tor Tiv to Wukari for a crusade for peace.

3) Government of Taraba State was to make sure that in reconstituting the Wukari traditional council, the representation of the Tiv people was to be addressed.

4) The Police should prevent arms getting into private hands. The Police were to make sure there was no roadblock mounted by other people except the Police.

5) The two governors of Taraba and Benue should jointly tour the crises area and forward a report to the Vice-President.

6) On the issue of the boundary between Benue and Taraba States, the Vice President was to meet with the two Governors (Benue and Taraba) after reports on same was submitted by the National Boundary Commission.

7) The displaced people were to return home and the police should provide security to the returnees.

8) Tendencies by Taraba Government to discriminate against certain ethnic groups should be discouraged.

9) Regular reports should be sent to the Vice-President on the crisis.

10) The Governor of Taraba State henceforth be held responsible if the crisis continues. [82]

Unfortunately, as Iorwuese Hagher noted:

The (Government) out rightly refused to implement the 10-point agenda and since this was not a product of a Judicial Commission, it has not been possible to enforce implementation. [83]

All these are suggestive that the role played by successive Governments in conflict management in the post–colonial Nigeria has neither been effective nor committed at ensuring lasting peace in the Benue Valley as the persistent negligence to promptly act in implementing the reports and recommendations of Committees and Commissions explains the persistence of conflicts in the area under examination.

Therefore, the way forward for a genuine peaceful inter group relations devoid of perennial conflicts in the Benue Valley would be for the Government to live up to the responsibility of preventing conflicts before they become violent in outlook. The Government should always embark on ventures aimed at peace- making in the area during early warning signals to be able to prevent the violent conflicts from erupting rather than waiting for the conflict to occur and continuously depend on the traditional military approach to suppress the violent uprisings.

In addition, efforts should always be made by Government to implement the recommendations of Commissions of inquiry or Committees set up to investigate the causes of conflicts as to ensure lasting peace in the Benue valley. It is not always good enough to only set up Committees to investigate conflicts without fully implementing their recommendations.

 

Endnotes

  1. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics… p.99.
  2. Interview with Mr. Inja Abuul, Politician-Age: 65yrs, at Gboko on 12-3-2013.
  3. Interview with g. Ugbene, Former Deputy Chairman, Gboko Local Government Council, Age: 55 yrs, at Gboko on 4-8-2012.
  4. Ibid
  5. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p. 101.
  6. G. Ugbene; the ten view councilors appointed were, L.K. Anja, Former President of the N.P.C. in Tiv Division; P. Akpeityo Tion, N.P.C. President in the Intermediate Area; Kwande Agaihyande, General Secretary of Tiv Divisional N.P.C.. N.P.C., Tiv Division. Others were Ipagher Kyereve Kator and Adamu Anikyondo, all Executive Committee members of N.P.C., Tiv. Division.
  7. Interview with B. Iordye, Politician, Politician, Age: 54 yrs, at Yandev, 8-7-2011.
  8. Ibid.
  9. L. Macfarlane, Political Disobedience, London, Macmillan, 1971, pp. 23-24.
  10. Police Intelligence Report, Gboko 3 April, 1960.
  11. T. Makar, The History of Political Change…. p.106.
  12. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p. 94.
  13. Ibid.,
  14. H. Orpin, Politicians, Age: 74 yrs, 4-6-2009. Yandev.
  15. Police Intelligence Report (D.S.P., Special Branch, Gboko, January, 1961)
  16. O. Gbegi, Former Government Liason Officer (G.L.O.) in charge of Gboko, Age: 53 yrs, 4-8-2012.
  17. ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Interview with B. Iordye…
  20. G.P. Northern Region of Nigeria Provincial Annual Report, Kaduna, 1960.
  21. Annual Report of the Nigeria Police, 1960
  22. M.J. Dent, “A Minority Party-The U.M.B.C.”, in J.P. Mackintosh, Nigerian Government and Politics, London, Allen and Uwin, 1966, p. 496.
  23. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p. 124.
  24. Ibid., p.128.
  25. Interview with B. Iordye
  26. Ibid.
  27. A white paper p.10
  28. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p.132.
  29. Annual Report of the Nigeria Police for 1964, Lagos, p.10 and West Africa, 29 February, 1964, p.226.
  30. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p.132.
  31. Interview with Hon. Musa Usman Addra, Sardanna of Doma and Former Chairman of the defunct Awe local Government Council comprising, Awe, Doma and Keana, Age: 61, 15-10-2014 at Doma.
  32. D. Adamu, “Political History of Tiv-Jukun Clashes,” in The Analyst, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1992, pp. 13-14.
  33. Ibid., P. 14.
  34. R. Anifowose, Violence and Politics…, p. 88.
  35. J. Paden, Ahmadu Bello, p. 347.
  36. “Editorial, Truth is Better than Silver and Gold, Tiv and Idoma: Factually speaking”, The New Times, vol. 3, no.3, March 1993, p. 3.
  37. Federal Republic of Nigeria Amended Constitution 2011, pp. 95-96.
  38. I.A. Ayua, “The Historic and Legal Roots of conflicts in the Benue Valley” in T. Gyuse and O. Ajene (ed), Conflcits in the Benue Valley, p. 68 and S. Best, “The Political Dimensions of Conflicts in the Benue Valley” in ibid., p. 134.
  39. S. Best, “The Political Dimensions… “in ibid.,
  40. Ibid., p. 135.
  41. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours, P. 96.
  42. Ibid., P. 96.
  43. Memorandum to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the communal crises in Benue Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba States from the Tiv in Diaspora, 30 March, 2002, p. 12.
  44. Ibid., p. 12
  45. S. Best, “The Political Dimensions…,” pp. 138-139.
  46. Ibid., p.139.
  47. N.A.K./S.N.P.7/4816/1908
  48. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours…, pp. 109-110.
  49. Interview with O. Adoba, Civil servant, Age: 51, 4-11-2013 at Otukpo.
  50. The voice Newspaper, November 15, 1989, p.8.
  51. Ibid., p. 9
  52. Ibid., p.8
  53. The voice Newspaper, January 25, 1990.
  54. Ibid.
  55. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours, p. 95
  56. Saturday Punch, cited in I. Hagher, Beyond Hate and Violence…, p. 127.
  57. The Voice Newspaper, January 15, 1990.
  58. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours, p.92.
  59. A.I. Ayua, “The Historic and Legal Roots…,” in T. Gyuse and O. Ajene (ed), Conflicts in the Benue Valley, p. 71.
  60. “The fear of Domination of one Tribe by Another”, The Analyst, Vol. 7, No.1, 1992, p.16.
  61. D. Adamu, “Political History of Tiv-Jukum…,” P. 14
  62. Best, “Political Dimensions…,” p. 150.
  63. Ibid.
  64. T. Tseror, Tiv and their Neighbours, p. 95.
  65. Centre for women, Youth and Community action, (NACWYCA) Lafia, pp. 54-55;
  66. Ibid.
  67. “The fear of Domination of one Tribe…”, pp. 15-17.
  68. V. Elaigwu, The Military and the Management of Civil Crises in Nigeria. 1960-1993, Kaduna, N.D.A., 2003, P. 129.
  69. Ibid., p. 130
  70. Ibid., p. 199
  71. Ibid., p. 199
  72. T. Aavav, Refugees in .., p. 264.
  73. Adamu, “Let’s sheath ….”, p. 20.
  74. See Appendix 2.
  75. See Appendix 3.
  76. See Appendix 4.
  77. See Appendix 5.
  78. See Appendix 6.
  79. See Appendix 7.
  80. See Appendix 8.
  81. T. Aavav, Refugees in .., p.94.
  82. Higher, Hate and violence …., p. 98. See also T. Aavav, Refugees in …. pp. 166-178
  83. Higher, Hate and Violence… p. 99.

 

CHAPTER SIX

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Summary

This work examines conflicts and conflict administration between the Tiv and their neighbours such as the Jukun, Idoma, Alago, Beriberi, among others, in the Middle Benue Valley using various sources and inter-disciplinary approach. The work covers a period of a century.

Prior to the imposition of colonial rule Tiv relations with their neighbors was not just juxtaposed with each other but intermixed. Even though initial contact was based on war, but as soon as the Tiv took their position in the Benue Valley the relationship transformed into peaceful coexistence and fruitful economic and socio-economic cooperation. There were few instances of violence, especially against the Hausa- Fulani jihadist who unsuccessful attempted to Islamize and bring Tiv under Muslim rule.

The advent of colonial rule changed the relationship between the Tiv and other ethnic nationalities. Colonial rule itself was built on conflict and violence due to its wars of conquest and dehumanizing nature which often led to revolts against it. This promotion of violence sowed the seed of inter-ethnic conflict in the Middle Benue Valley. This in turn called for conflict administration which is basically intervention in conflict situations in order to reduce, transform conflict into more enduring and lasting relationship. Our discussion has highlighted the stereotypes on Tiv, the role of the Hausa/Fulani and the British policies as they fanned the embers of conflict in the region.

The geography and peopling of the region by the Tiv, Jukun, Idoma, Hausa, Fulani and Alago etc forms the background of our investigation. It has been shown that the various groups moved into the region under study at different times and in waves. The earliest arrivals were the Kworo, Kwena and Wadu while later arrivals included the Alago and Jukun, Kamberi, Katsinawa and Tiv. Tiv presence north of the River Benue in the BenueValley has been dated from 1760-1780s and in the region much earliest. Tiv initially moved as a single group but later fragmented their movement and migrations coming into contact with the Idoma, Alago of Keana, Kamberi, Jukun and other smaller groups.

In all these Tiv were not seriously challenged by any exigency and thus did not form a large scale political structure of the so-called Jukun Kingdom, Hausa/ Fulani; Benin, Igala, Nupe or Yoruba monarchies and therefore did not establish and develop town or cities. Rather they livied in the remote areas engaging themselves in what they knew best, agriculture, occasionally offering military services to their stressed neighbours. Tiv military assistance helped in not just protecting but building the Keana Monarchy. Intermarriages and commercial activities helped in encouraging inter-group relations especially between Tiv and Jukun. Tiv borrowed magico–religious ideas from Jukun and the institution of Tor-agbande. The bow and poisoned arrows were got from the Bassa neighbours. It has been argued in the work that pre-colonial conflict management between the Tiv and other cultural groups within the region was based in wars, migrations, treaties and inter-groups alliance against others. For instance, the alliance between the Tiv and Jukun, against the Hausa; and Tiv and Alago, against the Katsinawa.

Between 1900 and 1949 British colonialism changed many things. Firstly the British stigmatized the Tiv and branded them as war- like even though British conquest, 1907 onwards, was achieved without a single gunshot! This prejudice influenced negative Anglo- Tiv relations. Policies introduced clearly demonstrated this anti- Tiv propensity. For instance, there were no fixed boundaries before the inception of British colonial rule between the Tiv and their neighbours. Tiv were inter-mixed with their neighbours such as the Alago, Jukun, Idoma, Udam etc in Bassa, Nassarawa, Muri and Province. The British creation of boundaries based on cultural geographical spread and attempt at the resuscitation of the kingdom of Kwararafa worsened inter-ethnic relations. This partly explains most of the conflicts in the region. Also, the cultivation and nurturing of the idea of indigeneship, immigrants, settler or guest stimulated ethno-national consciousness among the different ethnic groups within the region under study. The promotion exclusively over inclusiveness led to deprivation, rejection, distrust and inevitable conflict.

Other factors such as the intentional refusal of the British to recognize Tiv as the dominant and indigenous group in the areas they were found while colonialism flourished, appointment of non-Tiv as chiefs over the Tiv as well as the indirect rule system promoted crisis between the Tiv and some of the other cultural groups. For example the colonial administration discovered very late to their chagrin in the case of Kashimbila that it belonged to the Tiv. However, it had at various times been regarded as either Jukun or Kutev land. This policy was not only unfavorable but inimical to the Tiv. In any case, the deep rooted seeds of hatred and disharmony had been sawn only waiting for any of its triggers to be pulled for anarchy to reign in the region anytime in post colonial Nigeria.

The response of the colonial officials to conflict in the region within its time frame was rather to fan it through its ill intentioned policies. For instance, the creation of borders divided instead of unifying the people and therefore contributed to conflicts. Sometimes this was done in deceit of the people in the name of road building for the transportation of goods. A good case study is the so called Munchi Wall between theTiv and Udam in the southern end of Tivaland. This has since then heightened tensions between the Tiv sub groups of Mbaduku and Mbayongu and Udam people. Again the bias against the Mbakpa Tiv sub groups against their neighbourig Doma has been noted in the work.

Minorities as parts of the political equation in the politics of nationalism and march towards independence dominated by the three majority groups – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo was an issue in the pre-independence Nigeria. Even though relegated to the background, the minorities existed in each region and were already voicing out their frustrations with the majority groups due to several discrimination. The agitation of the fomer in Northern Nigeria for the creation of states was down played by the Northern Region and ignored by the colonial administration.

The Northern Region believed falsely and wrongly in the idea of a homogeneous monolithic north devoid of diversity and rancour. This was a marriage because there were pockets of nationalities in the Benue valley such as the Tiv, who did not accept the Sokoto caliphate and the Islamization movement of Usman Dan Fadio and his subsequent disciples. This rejection rather gave rise to a stronger opposition of the Northern hegemony in the name of the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) and the demand for more states when party politics was introduced. This opposition, it was viewed correctly, came principally from the Tiv people in the Benue Valley. Thus, political victimization came in form of denial of permits, threat of termination of appointment, denial of appointment and promotion. At the same time alliances were forged with subservient groups and paramount rulers were used as institution of persecution.

The departing colonial administration as noted earlier colluded with the Northern Regions and respond to this agitation by a Commission to look into the demand of the minorities which has become popularly known as the Willink Commission. It performed its duty but looked the other way on the inclusion of fundamental human rights in the constitution as a way of allying the fears of the minorities. This led to tensions and militant revolts –Nande Nande of 1960 and of 1964 which affected not just the Benue Valley but contributed to the series of events that culminated in the civil war. The Atemtyo uprising of 1964 brought Tiv into conflict with their neighbours like the Idoma, Jukun, and Alago. This is because the Tiv had attack those neighbours also.

Thus by 1961 the Idoma, Igbira, Igala and others due to political patronage in terms of provision of social ameneties or promise of jobs became pitched against the Tiv. The alliance with Aku Uka of Uka, Alago and Kanuri (Kariberi) and Hausa-Fulani in Nassarawa has created the indigenes/ settler phenomenon in both Nassarawa and Taraba states today and persistence of the conflicts.

Hence, 1993 Tiv –Alago crisis; 1995 Hausa of Lafia versus the Tiv, 1996 Jukun of Awe in Keana and Tiv, Tiv/Jukun in Wukari 1990-1995, Fulani in Ardo Kola and Tiv, Mumuye Ardo Kola and Tiv all in Taraba state. Common denominators in all the crises were issues of ownership of land, taxation, grazing rights and political control of some of those areas.

Crises engineered by political calculation included the one between the Idoma, predominantly, members of the Northern Peoples’ Congress and Tiv of UMBC who clashed in 1964. The Tiv also fought with Hausa/ Fulani in Nassarawa over the control with the Southern Senatorial Zone and numerous others such as Hausa/Fulani 1977-1978, 1990-1993 and 2001. Response to these conflicts during the post colonial era just like during the colonial period was based on self preservative measures rather than genuine interests of the people involved. For instance, the idea of Northern unity is still being promoted. Concessions, persuation and accommodative approaches are neglected and never applied. This explains the nonimplementation of the reports of the Commissions that have been set up.

Conclusion

This work uses an interdisciplinary approach and a variety of sources in the study of conflict and conflict administration between the Tiv and their neighbours. These neighbours include the Jukun, Alago, Idoma, Mumuye, Udam and the Hausa. This work disagrees with the widely held view that the Tiv is an aggressive people that exhibit nothing more than aggression on their neighbours. Most of the conclusions scholars have drawn on the Tiv were bereft of close investigation and highly prejudiced. The analyses in the preceding chapters point to the fact that though wars of migrations and expansion in the pre-colonial period led to occasional conflicts but once the groups were settled in the Benue valley region they cooperated with one another for their mutual benefit. There were occasional cases of conflict over land, fishing or hunting rights and religion. The threat by the Fulani jihadists to Islamise the area did not affect the Tiv as they had repelled the jihadists and maintained their culture and traditional religion. This was the situation before the arrival of British rule.

British colonial administration and its negative policies affected relations between the Tiv and their neighbours. The administration’s creation of negative images of the Tiv as troublesome and warmongers, rigid demarcation of boundaries by building wars or establishing lines of rigid division, the introduction of indigene/settler rather separated the people. This practice cultivated exclusiveness instead of inclusiveness and stimulated ethnic awareness and particularism in the various peoples. This work concludes that the Tiv people are not settlers on the lands that they were declared immigrants by the colonial administration but indigenes (not citizens) of those areas, be they outside Benue State. Their indigenship of those areas was acquired through the media of conquest, peaceful acquisition of land based on “invitation” and mutual reciprocity, among others, in pre-colonial period just as other groups in the region had done. The colonial administrative deliberate policy of not recognising the Tiv people as the dominant group in the Benue valley and the placing of Tiv under non-Tiv chieftaincies created inter ethnic tension between the Tiv and their neighbours.

Therefore, indigenship question has to be adequately and sincerely addressed. Who is an indigene and who is not, or who is a settler or immigrant. Since we have come to accept colonial structures such as the colonially demarcated national boundaries of Nigeria there is need to borrow from here. The advent of British colonialism should be accepted as heralding a new beginning in this area and even at the national level. Pre-colonial history of groups generally involved movement from place to place in search of human desires. During the period, groups had invaded and even displaced others in different places and ways. British colonialism arrested this. However, it appears impossible to request respective groups to relocate to their respective areas of original abode at the time of creation. Therefore, the advent of British colonialism should be adopted as a defining epoch for indigenship and settler ship. That is that at the advent of British colonialism wherever groups were found should be considered as indigenous to such respective areas and those coming after British colonialism should be considered non-indigenes but citizens. In which case there should be clear definition and requirements for both in the Nigerian constitution. Here some number of years like ten is suggested as qualification for citizenship of a person in an area with Local Government Area Chairmanship as a maximum position of aspiration.

The conflicts arising from clamour for separate chieftaincies by certain groups to represent them in traditional councils such as the Tiv with other groups like the Jukun and Alago opposing the demand can be resolved with the abolition of the traditional institutions. After all, with administrative structures like Local Government Area Councils under the charge of Councilors and Chairmen; the States under the Governors and Commissioners and the Federal Government under the President and his Ministers make the traditional institutions redundant and duplicative. The methods of farming and grazing employed by farmers and grazers alike need to be reformed with encouragement from government. Wasteful traditional farm practices which require large expanses of land need to give way to more modern methods of agriculture. In the case of grazers, they should be assisted by the government in the area of domesticating their livestock as it is done in places like Argentina rather than using farms as grazing fields thereby destroying the crops which also constitute source of livelihood just the same way as the livestock constitute to the grazers.

For a genuine attempt at nation-building towards the attainment of the much desired nationhood, ethnic consciousness should be discouraged and Nigerian national consciousness be encouraged. Such practice has the capacity of dousing ethnic tensions and conflicts. At a later period when this is attained to an appreciable level, the concept of citizenship will be re-defined and inevitably enjoy a boost such that it will assume a new and better definition in the constitution that any Nigerian citizen, upon settling in a particular place for a period of ten years will be eligible to claim citizenship of the area and even qualify to contest for even the Governorship of that state.

The Nigerian state in all its ramifications must be up and doing, proactive, and work towards genuine conflict prevention management. This calls for good governance and good leadership at all levels of government. The failure of government to respond to potential conflict situations in good time and to quell mild situations early, has led to the unfortunate loss of lives and property. In addition, the state should be neutral and dispassionate in handling conflicts in this region.

Confidence-building for all communities and ethnic nationalities have to be embarked upon in the Benue valley. The mistrust, perceptions of domination and expansionist tendencies from some of the ethnic communities create resentment and help to reinforce long-held biases, prejudices and stereotypes. This is much more result yielding and permanent than the usual military action which government usually embarked upon. Government should also treat with utmost seriousness the report of Commissions which it (Government) usually constitutes to look into conflicts whenever they arise, rather than sweeping such reports under the carpets as it had done in the past.

 

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(3) Re-organization of

(4) Headquarters Keffi division transfer of to Nassarawa by Capt. S.S. John, 1030. Typewritten. 65 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/12150 Igumale Tribe-Anthropological Notes on by C.K. meek, 1030. Typewritten. 12 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/16373 Inter-Fribal Boundaries settlement ordinance 1932. (2) Report of Commission of Inquiry by C.R. Havers, K.C. Typewritten 201 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/17290 Benue Province – Changes in Organization 1932, by Mr. J.H. Shaw. Typewritten. 26 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/17404 Benue Province – Tiv- Wukari Boundary. Re-adjustment of (a) Akwana Enclave, by Capt. R.M. Downes, 1932. Typewritten. 18 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/19275 Bassa Komo District, Igala Division Kabba Province – Assessment of 1933, by Mr. T.F.G. Hopkins. Typewritten 49 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/20197 Lafia Emirate, Benue Province, Re-assessment of 1933, by T.C. Newton. Typewritten. 37 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/21837 Intelligence Report on the Kuntu mandated Area of Wukari Division 1934, by Mr. C.W. Cole. Typewritten. 90 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/Ibi Town Ibi Town (Wukari) Benue Province Organization of 1934, by Mr. K. Dewar. Typewritten 11 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/24678 Donga District, Wukari Division, Benue Frovince – Intelligence Report on by Mr. K. Dewar, 1935. Typewritten. 135 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/24898 Takum District, Wukari Division, Benue province – Intelligence Report on by Mr. K. Dewar, 1935. Typewritten. 162 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/25238 Wukari District, Wukari Division, Benue Province – Intelligence report on by Mr. K. Dewar, 1935. Typewritten 34. Pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/27327 Utur district, Tiv Division, Benue Province – Intelligence Report on by Mr. S.A.S. Leslie, 1936. Typewritten. 41 pp.

N.A.K/SNP.17/4377/1912 Muri Province – Wurkum Pagan Districts Assessment Report by T.H. Haughton. Typed. 95. Pp.

NAK SN 17/2/17290 Benue Province, Changes in Organization. 1932-1933 See intelligence report NAK MAKPROF (Fed) 4/24/AR/INTW1 Wukari Division, Report on Reorganization of by Mr. Dewar. MAKPROF (Fed) 4/19AR/INT/T38 Report on the Reorganizational of Tiv Districts Katsina-Ala Area by Mr. Dewar; SNP/7/3/24678 Donga District, Wukari Division, Benue Province Intelligence Report on by Mr. Dewar and about thirty six intelligence reports of individual Tiv Clans.

NAK MAK PROF (Fed) 4/24/AR/INT/V1 Wukari District, Report on, Reorganization by Mr.Dewar P. 10.

NAK MAK PROF (Fed) 4/1/4377 Tiv in Wukari Division, Reorganization Report Mr. Gunn.

 

GBODIV SERIES

1/83 Report on the Tiv Tribe by R.C. Abraham 1930-5

1/89 Makurdi Native Authority.

1/221 Abinsi Divisional “Headquarters Gboko: Transfer to New Tiv’ Divisional Headquarters 1933 – 4. 246 VOL.1. Pegan Administration (1940) 254/S.I Tiv Tribal Council Meeting, Agenda and Discussions 1946 – s53.

287 Native Authority Advisory Council: Instructions and Policies 1943—55

301 Tiv Central Council 1910—54

310 Masev Sept—General 1949—56

311 Iharev—General 1953—6

313 Ukum Central Council meeting 1955—6

314 Shitire —General 1917—9

315 Kwande Sept—Gønerai 1947—56

316 Jechira Sept—General 1947—56

317 Jengba Sept—General 1947—55

318 Vande—Ikya—General 1947—56

319 Jengba Intermediate Court 1947—54

592 Tiv Central Council: Rules and Orders promulgated 1934

600 VOL. II Makurdi—General

606 Circulars 1949—56

613 Tiv Wukari Divisional Boundary 1947-54

618 Katsina Ala Divison – Genera1 1934 – 55

654 Iharev Ityoshin: Re—organisation Report 1939

718 Ukum District Re organisation of 1936

735 New Constitution 1954

736 Jengbar Primary Electoral Area 195 1

737 Katsina Ala, Abinsi, Makurdi—Primary Electoral Area 1951.

738 Kwande Primary Electoral Area 1931

739 (Ukum, Tongov, Ugondo, Ikurav—Tiev Primary Electoral Area

740 Shitite Primary Electoral Area 1951

741 Jechira Primary Electoral Area 1951 – 1955

742 Iharev Primary Electoral Area 1951

743 Masev Primary Electoral Area 1951

744 Non gov Primary Electoral Area 195 1

775 Katsina Ala Town: Re organisation 1935- 55

1214 lharev – Ityoshin: Re-organisation Report (1) Mbakpa Clan (ii) Raav clan 1935-9

1282 Divisional officers correspondence 1938

1301 Native Authority Correspondence – General 1938-53

1402/S.4 Premier Northern Region: Movements of 1954

1402/S. 17 Premier Northern Region: Movements of 1954

1493 Tiv Division, Half yearly Report 1939

2/3 AE/1 Kwande —General 1953—60

2/3 AE/2 Jechira—General 1953 – 61

2/3 AE/3 Abinsi —General 1953—61

2/3 AE/4 Sankera—General 1953—61

2/3 AE/S Jengba—General 1958—61

 

ORAL INTERVIEWS

S/N NAME OCCUPATION AGE PLACE DATE
1 Paul B. Auta Civil Servant 59 Didan, Kurmi L.G.A., Taraba State 23/4/2012

 

2 Danladi Dicha Farmer 62 Danboki,Kurmi L.G.A., Taraba State 23/4/2012
3 John Gubairu Farmer 67 Kurmi, Kurmi L.G.A., Taraba State 23/4/2012
4 Jibrin Anfani Farmer 73 Wukari, Wukari L.G.A., Taraba State 13/8/2009
5 J.Orume Farmer 65 Wukari, Wukari L.G.A., Taraba State 13/8/2009
6 Danladi Shamaki Businessman 62 Mararraba, Donga L.G.A., Taraba State 19/8/2009
7 Alura Allah-De Businessman 70 Mararraba, Donga L.G.A., Taraba State 19/8/2009
8 Baba Jada Businessman 66 Mararraba, Donga L.G.A., Taraba State 19/8/2009
9 Shamma Taka’a Farmer 74 Ananum, Donga L.G.A., Taraba State 19/8/2009
10 Obadiah Uffih Farmer 63 Donga, Donga L.G.A., Taraba State 4/6/2013
11 Hamman Gadu Farmer 67 Serti, Gashaka L.G.A., Taraba State 4/6/2013
12 Ande Kyaufa Farmer 58 Takum, Takum L.G.A., Taraba State 21/10/2011
13 M. Tsuzun Farmer 62 Takum, Takum L.G.A., Taraba State 12/10/2011
14 A. Kyari Farmer 59 Gassol, Gassol L.G.A., Taraba State 15/10/2011
15 Bello Hassan Farmer 55 Gassol, Gassol L.G.A., Taraba State 15/10/2011
16 Danladi Balasa Farmer 50 Gassol, Gassol L.G.A., Taraba State 15/10/2011
17 Timothy Nafinji Farmer 54 Takum, Takum L.G.A., Taraba State 21/10/2011
18 Idi Abbas Farmer 55 Takum, Takum L.G.A., Taraba State 21/10/2011
19 Gambo Suntai Farmer 56 Wukari, Wukari L.G.A., Taraba State 16/2/2009
20 Alhassan Bello Farmer 50 Bali, Bali L.G.A. Taraba State 16/2/2009
21 Hon Ejodwin Tabo Rtd Rtd. Civil Servant 61 Obene ward Keana, Nasarawa state 18/3/2012
22 Zaki Solomon Akulo Kindred Head, Tachia 62 Nasarawa state 18/3/2012
23 Eric Upuu Chairman Tiv Development 45 Association (TIDA) Keana Place Aloshi, Keana, Nasarawa state 19/3/2012

 

24 Jubrin Ahmadu Secretary Ave 42 Emirate council, Awe, Nasarawa  State 19/3/2012
25 Alhaji Adamu Salihu Madakin Awe 42 Place Awe, Nasarawa State 9/10/2014
26 Adamu Yakubu Haying Secretary to Chairman 49 Awe L.G.A., Place Nassarawa State 9/10/2014
27 Vincent Yange Farming 45 Obi 12/7/2011
28 Zaki Uchihi Agem Farming 60 Tachia 4, Keana, Nasarawa state 2/11/2013
29 Alhaji Bala Nusa Adviser to Osama of Keana 72 Keana (Matawalin Keana) and

Dekechi of Iwago Ward,

Keana, Nasarawa

State

25/4/2014
30 Osuza Sheki Moi Keana 74 Ideana, Nasarawa State 25/4/2014
31 Hon Peter Akosu Former Deputy 50 Chairman Awe Local Government Area 50 Agaza, Keana, Nasarawa State

 

9/8/2014

 

32 Jorhemen Jangta Rtd Prison Officer 70 Isante V/Kya 12/3/2013
33 Pastor Akijo

Henevanger

NSKST Pastor 68 Zaki Biam Ukum LGA 6/3/2013
34 Kyar Farming 60 Adikpo 15/5/2011
35 Mbatseen, Terrgu APC party

chairman

Buruku LGA

58 Buruku 9/4/2011

 

36 Iorungwa Tahar Farming 62 Buruku 12/6/2010
37 Ortser Ijir Farming 68 Akwa-Mbageu, Buruku LGA 3/8/2010

 

38 Eje Dickson Businessman 50 Adoka Otukpo LGA 2/7/2011
39 Torgbe Adikpo Farming 85 Tsar-Mbaduku, Vandiky la 11/6/2010

 

40 Peter Akunoko Lecturer 51 Alia-de, Gwer LGA 5/9/2011
41 Joe Abba Public servant 50 Otukpo, Otukpo LGA 6/8/2009

 

42 Peter Anshungu Public servant 50 Makurdi, Makurdi LGA 5/5/2014

 

43 John Kyenge Politician 55 Z/Bram, Ukum L.G.A 2/6/2011
44 Clement Adzuauougo Former commissioner 53 Konshisha LGA 5/6/2010

 

45 Hua Abuul Farming 62 Lessel, Ughongo LGA 6/7/2010
46 Taakper Bagu Farming 67 Ute, Vandeikya LGA 2/8/2010
47 Gabriel Chidam, Ugba Businessman 54 Ugba, Logo L.G.A 2/6/2011
48 Elder Haa Orpin Politician 73 Yander, Igboko L.G.A., Benue state 6/06/2009
49 Inja Abuul Politican 71 Gboko L.G.A; Benue state 12/3/2013

 

50 G. Ugbene Former Deputy Chairman 54 Gboko, Benue state 4/8/2012

 

51 Benjamin Lordye Politican 57 Yander, Gboko L.G.A., Benue state 8/7/2011

 

52 Ortese Gbegi Former government Liaison Officer (G.L.O) in charge of Gboko LGA 54 Gboko Benue state 4/8/2012

 

53 O. Odoba Civil servant 52 Oturkpo Benue state 4/11/2013
54 Zaki Ayolave Yande Clan Head of Moon in Kwande L.G.A. 77 Moon, Kwande LGA, Benue state

 

4/7/2007

 

 

PRINTED MATTER

A white paper on the Government‘s policy for the Rehabilitation of the Tiv Native Authority.

Duties of the Administrative officer in Northern Nigeria. G.P. Kaduna 1952.

Federal Election 1959: Instructions to Polling Officers G.P Lagos.

Financial Memoranda for use in Native Treajuries G.P Kaduna, 1951.

  1. Wilink Report of the Commission Appointed to Enquire into the fears of minorities and the means of allaying H.M.S.O. 1958.

Northern Region: Native Authority Staff Regulations, G.P. Kaduna, 1949. Indirect

Administration (selected minutes and Circulars issued at various times for the guidance of Administration and other officers June, 1936, G.P. Kaduna.

Hailey: Native Administration and Political Development in British Tropical Africa 1940—2

Northern Nigerian Administration: Instructions to Provincial Commissioners and Provincial Secretaries. G P. Kaduna Northern Provinces: Secretariat Schedule of Duties, G.P Kaduna, 1950.

The Colonial Administrative Service: Special Regulations by the Secretary of State for the colonies G.P. Lago 1932.

 

UNPUBLISHED MATERIAL

Atuu, P.A. “Tiv warfare in the 19th nd 20th centuries ”(M.As Dissertation, Dept. of History University of Jos ,1988). Dorward, D.C. “A social and Political History of Tiv people I9OO-1939”(Ph.D Thesis, Dept. of History, University of London, 1971)

Gbande, D.D. “Trade and settlement in the middle Benue Basin 1850—1960,” (M.A. Dissertation On Dept. of History, A.B.U. Zaria).

Ihembeto, E.I “Tiv Labour Supply for Colonial Tin Mining in Nigeria, (M.A. Dissertation U.N.N, 1988)

Ikpa, I. A Political Economy of the Tiv Revolts 1950 – 1960 “(M.A. Dissertation, Dept. of History, University of Jos, 1991)

Iyo, J. “Tiv Nationalism: And some Aspects of British rule,” (Ph.D. thesis Dept. of History, University of Calabar, 1989).

Okar, J.N. “ Pre—colonial History of the Tiv of central 1500—1950 “(Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, Dalhousie University, Canada, 1979)

Yongo, D.D. “Resistance to Colonial Conquest in Northern Tivland 1879—1914 “(B.A. Project, Dept. of History, University of Jos, 1992)

 

PAPERS

Agber, S.K; “Tiv Origins and Migrations. A Reconsideration”, paper presented at the 8th Annual Conference of the Archaeologival Association of Nigeria held at Minna, Niger State, 25 June —July, 1989.

_________________  “Commerce and Under development in Tiv land 1900—1960”, Ph.D. Research Proposal , Dept. of History, University of Jos, October, Benue Valley Project papers (B.V.P.P) No..24 Orkar,J.E “ Swem: TIV Origins”. NO.8 Sargent,R.A .” The Tiv—Hausa war: The Combat and Combatants 1850—1879 “.

  1. 10 ____________“ Anglo—Tiv Relations 1883 – 1914: The era of aggression”.

NO.12 ____________ “The Northern Tiv: Migration, Was and social transformation”.

No. 19____________ “ A chiefly intertude among the Northern Tiv”.

Tseror,T. “British Conquest of Tiviland: The failure of Military Option.

 

NEWSPAPERS

Aliyi Ekineh, “More About States,” Daily Times, April 4, 1957, p.5. “Full, frank and cordial talks, Three Premier unanimous on Indepenence”, Daily Times, April 18, 1957, p.1.

“N.P.C. campaigns against Middle Belt State”, Daily Times, Aug.6, 1959, p.6.

Ebenizer Williams, “State issue may wait until nidepedence”, Daily Times, May 13, 1957, p.8.

“Demand for States Creation”, Daily Times, July 14, 1957,p.11.

“Historical Day at Laucaster House”, Daily Times, May 24, 1957, p. 1.

“U.M.B.C. Criticises Sardama on votes for women”, Daily Times, July 3, 1957, p.3.

“Put God first before doing anything”, Sardama tells NPC, Daily Times, Sept. 18, 1959, p. 10.

N.E.P.U. U.M.B.C. urged to join N.P.C., Daily Times, Dec. 2, 1959, p.4.

“N.E.P.U. U.M.B.C. urged to join N.P.C.”, Daily Times, December 2, 1959, p. 4.

“N.P.C. Oppresses the people”; Daily Times, Nov. 23, 1959.p. 2.

N.P.C. accused of intolerance, Daily Times, Dec., 2, 1959, p.4.

“Kabba N.A. accaused of partiality”, Daily Times, Dec. 8, 1959, p. 4.

“Tarka wants N.A. courts suspended”, Daily Times, No. 23, 1959, p.2.

“Parties urged to avoid abuse”, Daily Times, Nov. 23, 1959, p.2.

 

PUBLISHED WORKS

Abraham R.C. The Tiv People, (Lagos: Government Printers, 1944).

Abeghe, T. The Tiv and Tiv Riots, (n.p., n.d.)

Ademoyega, A. Why we Struck, (Ibadan: Evans Brothers, 1981)

Ahire, P. (ed) The Tiv in Contemporary Nigeria, (Zaria: the writers, 1993).

Ajayi, J.F.A. and Crowder, M. (eds), History of West African Vol. I (London: Longman, 1976).

_________ History of West Africa Vol. III, (London: Longman, 1974).

Anene, J.C. and Brown G. (es) Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, (Ibadan I.U.P., 1966).

Anifowose, R, Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv and Yoruba Experience (Enugu: NOK, 1982).

Azikiwe, N. Matchless Past Performance, (Nsukka: African Book Company, 1979).

Baikie, W.B. Narrative of an Exploration Voyage up the Rivers Kwara and Benue (London: 1951).

Bello, A. My Life, (Zaria: Gaskiya, 1986).

Bohannan, L. And P. The Tiv of Central Nigeria, (London: Sidney, 1969).

________ The Tiv Economy, (London, 1968).

Burdo, A., A Voyage up the Niger and Benue, (London, 1880).

Carr, E.H., What is History, (Cambridge: 1961).

Coleman, S.J., Nigeria: Background to Nnationalism, (Broburg, 1986).

Collingwood, R.G. The Idea of History, (London: 1977).

Crocker, W.R. Nigeria: A Critique of British Colonial

Crowder M., West Africa Under Colonial Rule, (London: Hutchoinson, 1968).

________ The Story of Nigeria,

Downes, R.M., The Tiv Tribe, (Kaduna: Government Printer, 1938).

________ Tiv Religion (Ibadan, IUP, 1971).

Dudley, B.J. Instability and Political Order: Politics and Crisis in Nigeria (Ibadan, IUP, 1973).

_______ Political Parties in Northern Nigeria (London: Frank Case, 1965).

East, R. (trans), Akiga’s Story(london: O.U.P. 1939).

Erim, O.E. and Okon, E.U. Perspectives and Method of Studying African History, (Enugu: Fourth Dimension, 1984).

Gann, L.H. and Duignan P. (eds) Colonialism in Africa 1860-1960 Vol. 2, (Cambridge: 1970).

Gbor, J. Mdugh u Tiv man Mnyer ve Ken Benue, (Zaria: Gaskiya, 1978).

Ikime, O., The Fall of Nigeria, (Ibadan: Heineman, 1977).

_______ Groundwork of Nigerian History, (Ibadan 1980).

Lugard, F.D, Political Memoranda, (London: Frank, Cas, 1970).

Makar, T. The History of Political Change Among the Tiv in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Nicolson, F.I. Tropical Africa (London: 1928).

_________ The Administration of Nigeria 1900-1960 (Clarendon Oxford: 1961).

Nnoli, O., Ethic Politics in Nigeria, (Enugu: Foruth Dimension, 1978).

Okonjo, I,M., British Administration in Nigeria 1900-1950 (New York: 1974).

Orr, C. The Making of Northern Nigeria(London: Frank Cass, 1965).

Padan, J.N., Ahmadu Bello, (Zaria: Hudahuda, 1986).

Perham, M. Native Administration in Nigeria (London: O.U.P, 1937).

Rubingh, E., Sons Of Tiv, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965).

Sklar, R.N., Nigerian Political Parties, (Enugu, NOK, 1933).

Temple, C.L. Native Races and their Rulers, (London: Frank Cass, 1968); Second Edition.

Temu, A. and Swai, B., Historians and Africanist History: A Critique (London, 1981).

Tseayo, J.I. Conflict and Incorporation in Nigeria: The Integration of the Tiv, (Zaria: GAskiya, 1975).

Tseror, T. Tiv and their Neighbours, (Jos: PLHA, 1992).

Yakobu, J.S. Mbaheberu man Tiv I, (n.p, Baraku Press, nd).

Ogunsanwo, O. Awo, Lagos, Pace, 2009.

Jakande, L. The Trial of Obafemi Awolowo, London, John West, 1966.

Sargent, R. Economics, Politics and Social Change in the Benue Basin, C. 1300-1700, Enugu, Fouth Dimension,1999.

Jeong, H. Peace and Conflict Studies: An Introduction,USA, Ashgate, 2000.

Best, S. G. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies in West Africa, Ibadan, Spectrum, 2006.1

Ikejiani-Clark, M. Peace Studies and Conflict Resolutions in Nigeria, Ibadan, Spectrum, 2009.

Akpuru-Aja, A. Basic Concepts, Issues and Strategies of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Enugu, Keny and Brothers, 20007.

Bartros, O. J and Wer, P. Using Conflict Theory USA, Cambridge, 2002.

Albert, I. O. (ed)Perspectives on peace and Conflict in Africa, Ibadan, Archers, 2005.

Schmid, A. P,Thesaurus and Glossary of Early Warning and Conflict Prevention Terms, Netherlands, Early Warning, 2000.

Gyuse, T.T and Agene, O. (ed) Conflict in the Benue Valley, Makurdi, BSU, 2006.

This research work was originally submitted by YONGO, DAVID DURA, A THESIS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, FACULTY OF ARTS, SUBMITTEDTO THE SCHOOL OF POSTGRADUATE STUDIES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, NSUKKA, IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (Ph.D) IN HISTORY

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