The death toll in the ethno-religious clashes that erupted in Wukari and Ibi Local Government Areas of Taraba State on Sunday has risen to 44.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Joseph Kwaji, who spoke to THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday, said besides the four corpses recovered at Wukari on Sunday, eleven other corpses were recovered yesterday at Ibi town, a suburb of Wukari where the crisis extended to.
Apart from the corpses that were recovered at Ibi, Kwaji further disclosed that 21 people were injured at Ibi and had been moved to the Specialists Hospital in Jalingo as well as the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Jalingo where doctors are battling to save their lives.
When THISDAY visited the Specialists Hospital and FMC yesterday, doctors, including the medical director, were seen working frantically to stabilise the victims majority of whom were said to be responding positively to treatment.
Fielding questions from journalists in his office, the Medical Director of Specialists Hospital, Dr Joel Rimamde, said over 100 injured victims were brought to the hospital on Sunday one of whom gave up the ghost in the early hours of yesterday.
THISDAY investigations further revealed that seven other victims who were not brought to the hospital but were receiving treatment in private clinics also died while at the FMC, there were three gunshot victims receiving treatment at the hospital just as six others were hospitalised.
However, in a bid to forestall a recurrence of the incessant clashes in the area, acting Governor of the state, Alhaji Garba Umar, ordered the proscription of all youth groups in Wukari and Ibi Local Government Areas.
In a statement signed by Kefas Sule, the Chief Press Secretary to Umar, he stated that preliminary findings on the cause of the violence in the two local governments areas indicated that the crisis was the result of the negative activities of some youth groups in the affected towns.
And to ensure the proscription order is fully adhered to, the acting governor directed security agencies to take note of the development and ensure the enforcement of the ban on the activities of the youth groups just as he expressed relief that the military has restricted movements in the affected areas indefinitely until total normalcy is restored.
Appealing to the entire people of the state to remain calm and exercise restraint in the face of the present resurgence of violence in the areas, the acting governor assured them that the treatment of the victims of the crisis in government health facilities would be paid for by the state government just as he stated that efforts are also being made to send relief materials to the affected communities.
Meanwhile, the Assistance Inspector General (AIG) in charge of Zone 3, Alhaji Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, has expressed the readiness of the police to halt the incessant outbreak of violence in the area permanently just as he appealed for the support of the traditional rulers of the affected areas to assist the police to achieve the objective.
The AIG, who went round the troubled areas in company of the state Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Kalafite H. Adeyemi, and other senior police officers of the command to access the situation in the two communities, said every hand must be on deck to ensure permanent peace was restored to Wukari and Ibi, saying there cannot be any development in the absence of peace.