By: Uhuru Samuel Adaji Jalingo
A group of Kuteb elders from Takum local government area of Taraba State have accused the State Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas of deliberately inviting anarchy to the area following his plan to rob the Kuteb tribe of the stool of Ukwe Takum.
The spokesman of the group, Joshua Rimamsikwe during a briefing with journalists in Jalingo on Wednesday said that the plan by the governor to dismantle the ancestral stool of Ukwe Takum to create three third class tribal Chiefs in Takum was not only an invitation to crisis but an agenda to wipe out the Kuteb race from the surface of the earth.
He added that the Kuteb race who have been the sole occupants of the stool of Ukwe Takum also rejects the planned agenda of the Governor to rob the Kuteb of their ancestral first class stool of Ukwe Takum and give it to the Chamba tribe or any other tribe under the guise of introducing a rotational system for a stool that had been occupied by the Kuteb since time immemorial.
“The Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas is only implementing the age long agenda of his godfather, General T. Y Danjuma whose plan has been to rob the Kuteb tribe of the stool of Ukwe Takum and transfer same to the Chamba, Danjuna’s tribe who have never occupied the stool since its creation in 1914.
Kefas should make the seat of Ukwe Takum rotational among Chamba, Kuteb and Kpanzon, he should first start with the seat of Aku Uka of Wukari and rotate the stool between, Wapang, Tiv and Hausas being the dominant tribes in Wukari.
“I want to place on record that before the creation of Taraba State in 1991, there existed three main traditional institutions in what is today known as Southern Taraba. These include, Aku Aku of Wukari first class headed by a Wapang as paramount ruler, Gara Donga, in Donga, Second Class headed by a Chamba as paramount ruler while there is Ukwe Takum also second class headed by a Kuteb tribe as paramount ruler, before the stools of Ukwe Takum and Gara Donga were elevated to first class by the former Governor Jolly Nyame administration in 2005, so why is it only the stool of Ukwe Takum that should be made rotational amongst major tribes in Takum”?, they emphatically asked.
National Trail correspondent in Taraba, gathered that despite the looming tension in Takum local government area in Taraba State over the 28 years disputed stool of Ukwe Takum, the State Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas appears to be bent on going ahead with plans to install a none Kuteb tribe to take over the stool of Ukwe Takum and damned whatever the consequences might be.
Governor Agbu had earlier informed the king makers of the Ukwe Takum ruling houses, Likam and Akenten at a meeting of his intention to appoint 3 third class chiefs in Takum, one each for three tribes in same Takum town for Kuteb, Kpanzon and Chamba. He also plans to maintain a 1st class King which will be rotated between the same three tribes. Meaming there will be four chiefs of different tribes in the same town.
Understandably, the two ruling hauses opposed the Governor’s decicion which they say was alien to the traditional stool which, according to them, was a sole inheritance of the Kuteb tribe who have been occupying the stool since 1914.
Apart from his meeting with the kingmakers and Kuteb elders, Governor Agbu again held another meeting with Kuteb youths at the government house Jalingo on February 4 where he equally briefed them of his plan to dismantle the stool of Ukwe Takum.
It was gathered that Governor Agbu emphatically told the Kuteb youths that he will go ahead with his plan and that the only option left for the Kutebs is for them to go to court.
The Governor allegedly warned the Kuteb youths that any attempt for them to forment any trouble in the area would be met with decisive military action.
While the Youth, mostly humbled by the presence of the governor, rose without a definite protest, our Correspondent gathered that they rose from the meeting with a sealed resolve to lay down their lives to protect their heritage.
The stool of Ukwe Takum is the First Class Chief of Kuteb people and has been their exclusive preserve. The Three dominant tribes of Kpnazo (Jukun), Chamba and Kuteb in Southern Taraba, occupy the stools of Aku Uka, Gara Donga and Ukwe Takum respectively and that has been the seamless arrangement over the years.
However, upon the death of the last Ukwe Takum nearly Three decades ago, there has been succession issues that led to the death of several persons and have left the stool vacant. Successive governments in the State mostly chose to keep mute about the embattled throne.
The agitations to install a Chamba person to the throne became heightened when a Jukun man Darius Ishaku emerged as the state Governor in 2015.
Despite all his efforts, the Kuteb Yatso, the umbrella body of the Kuteb people stood firm to resist all the attempts, saying time and again that the installation of a different person to the stool will mean the destruction of their heritage and they will rather die than have it.
Eventually, Governor Ishaku could not succeed. According to the Kuteb Yatso, the problem is with the former Minister of Defence General TY Danjuma, a Chamba man from Takum, who feels that someone from a different tribe should not be his king, considering his enormous achievements in Nigeria, development he brought to the area and his accomplishments in society.
Consequently, Governor Kefas, who is the General’s political godson is determined to grant his principal his lifelong wish at any cost, even if it means inciting crisis in the area.
But the Kuteb would not have it. Baba Jauro, an elder statesman from Kuteb in his agitation said that “the governor wants to bastardise the stool of Ukwe Takum into 3 chiefs. That has never happened anywhere in the world, even within southern Taraba stools of Wukari and Donga. Why Takum only? It will then mean that the history and the root of Kuteb as a nation is destroyed.
“He wants the Kpanzon and Chamba tribes to gain 3rd class Chiefs each and eventually a 1st class while Kuteb will lose its 1st Class Chief to 3rd class and may never recover it again. If Governor Kefas thinks this a good thing let him make law and apply same to the whole Taraba Chiefdoms where there are more than one tribe.
“If we are really three brothers in Takum, why should he bastardise Ukwe Takum Stool in favour of Jukun & Chamba who are fully engaged at Wukari and Donga? Kefas should fear God and not man. We categorically state that he who wants the stool bastardised and shared lacks the honour and wisdom of King Solomon and the two women in the Bible.
“For us, if it means the last battle that we would fight, then so be it. But we would never live to see our whole tradition and heritage bastardised and handed over to someone as a mere souvenir. Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi has more investment in the State than any other individual. He has employed more persons from Taraba than any other person. You can quote me anywhere. But I don’t hear him asking for traditional stools all over the place as compensation” he said.
The elder stateman appealed to Governor Agbu to respect the decision of Kuteb kingmakers who have already selected Prince Rimamnyang Habu Ahmadu as the crown Prince to succeed Late, Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Ahmadu who died in 1996.
Our correspondent however gathered that the Kuteb elites in Abuja have already petitioned President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the national security adviser to hold Governor Agbu Kefas responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in Takum local government area of Taraba State.
All efforts by our correspondent to get the reaction of the Special Assistant to the Governor on media, Hon. Emmanuel Bello proved abortive as he declined to comment on the matter.