Benue government orders warring communities to keep off disputed river 

The Benue state government has ordered two communities in Guma local government area of the state to steer clear of the disputed River Antse.

The Unyande and Kwenev communities have been at war over ownership of the river and the conflict has claimed many lives in the past 30 years.

The special adviser to Governor Hyacinth Alia on Security (Internal Affairs), Joseph Har, gave the order in Makurdi shortly after a meeting with the leaders of the LGA on Sunday.

Mr. Har said the state government had ordered the two communities to keep off the disputed river following an intelligence report of possible escalation of tension in the area.

He said the report indicated that the conflict could escalate into a full-blown communal crisis, adding that the decision was to prevent such an occurrence.

He a added that the Iyharev people of Unyande and Ngongov of Kwenev are fighting over ownership of River Antse.

He said the conflict has claimed many lives in the past three decades.

Har added that the meeting, which had in attendance traditional rulers in the area, the council chairman and the state assembly member from the region, would be reconvened next Sunday.

“The government has ordered that nobody from Unyande and Kwenev should go close to the River Antse until they hear from the government. We will reconvene on Sunday.

“This administration has zero tolerance for communal clashes. So we want to stop it before it begins. If anyone does anything that may lead to the breakdown of law and order, we will go after the person,” Har warned.

Also, the caretaker chairman of Guma LGA, Simon Unongo, said despite the lingering crisis between the two communities over the river, the area was enjoying relative peace.

Unongo said many IDPs from Udei, Tse Torkula, and Yongbo, amongst others, had since returned to their farms following the intervention by the state government.

Terwase Uche, the member representing Guma 1 state constituency, said the assembly was not considering legislation over such issues because each community had its peculiarity.

Uche said it was better for the communities to find ways of resolving issues themselves without necessarily exacting laws on them, as they would continue to live together after the crisis.  NAN