Tyo-Mu, a suburb of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, was put on the national, maybe global map, recently, when Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, was attacked there by alleged Fulani herders numbering about 15, while inspecting his farm.
Located on kilometer 12, Makurdi-Gboko road, Tyo-Mu is a largely underdeveloped community that hosts the Tactical Air Command (TAC) of the Nigeria Airforce.
The residents of Tyo-Mu are predominantly Tiv farmers who take advantage of the fertile land on the banks of River Benue, bordering the community and stretching over 15 kilometres to carry out their farming activities. The vast Fadama nature of the land makes it suitable for wet and dry season rice farming.
The community is also host to makers of burnt bricks, another thriving business in the community.
Though in existence for over 100 years, the sleepy community first came into prominence in 2015 when there was an intra-communal clash between the Ihyarev people who are the native inhabitants and the Kparev people, who though Tiv as well, are settlers from other parts of Tivland but who also lay claim to the area, having lived there for decades.
The Ihyarev are a clan of Tiv people found in Makurdi, Gwer-west and Guma local government areas, while Kparev the settlers, are alleged to have migrated from Vandeikya, Kwande, Konshisha and Ushongo local government areas.
There were two clashes in the community between January and April 2020. No fewer than 39 houses were torched in that incident, while one person was shot dead and two were injured, according to media reports.
Tyo-mu has remained a security flashpoint since then.
Following the crisis, many of the settlers (Kparev) who were the main targets have deserted their homes and left the area, for fear of further attacks.
As it were, peace had yet to fully return to the area and the current seeming peaceful nature of the area can be likened to peace of the graveyard.
Findings by 21st Century Chronicle reveal that the crisis in the area is for control of the rich land which is contiguous to the state capital.
There are different accounts of the origin of crisis in the area. One account is that the Ihyarev youth had demanded that the Kparev people who are into burnt bricks moulding on the river banks pay them for using the place as the land originally belongs to them.
Another account has it that the Kparev were ordered to leave the area because they are settlers.
The tussle, it was also gathered, is partly fuelled by the planned dredging of the River Benue and the River Port in Makurdi, with rumours that owners of lands on the banks of the river would be compensated by the federal government.
The recent attack on the governor in the area has opened a new vista of accusations of land grabbing against him.
Despite the precarious security situation in the area, an ethanol producing plant, rumoured to be owned by the governor is being developed there and was visited by the governor on March 15, 2020, only a few days before the attack.
The company sits on 25.4 hectares of land acquired in November 2020. It is unclear who the land was acquired from and if appropriate compensations were paid.
For a land acquired in November 2020, some of the questions being asked are the levels of approvals obtained from relevant authorities before work commenced at the site in January 2021.
The governor had during the visit to Pure Biotech Company Limited, denied any links with the company and expressed surprise at its existence.
One revelation that was made during the visit by the governor was that Pure Biotech Company Limited did not follow the laid down government procedure to acquire and develop the land. The governor, curiously, said he had forgiven the company and its owners for flouting the law and admonished them to rectify it.
Similarly, it is alleged that the land on which the governor was attacked, belongs to the people, mainly the alleged settlers, and was acquired in the wake of the crisis, after the owners abandoned them and ran for their lives.
Some indigenes of the area, under the aegis of Tyo-Mu Concerned Youth Vanguard, in a statement by the President, Vershima Tsebee, accused the governor of taking over their land without due compensation and stage-managing his alleged attack to create an atmosphere of insecurity in the area, keep the land owners away and take over their lands.
According to the indigenes, the inhabitants are 100 per cent Tiv-speaking people and predominantly farmers and what they have witnessed there for decades has been land crisis between Ihyarev and Kparev, the last of which led to the suspension of district heads.
The association also accused the state government of allowing the communal clash to fester for the selfish interests of certain individuals.
“We feel that the alleged attack is to further frighten the people and scare them away from the area to pave way for the governor’s land-grabbing agenda.
“We were surprised to later learn that Governor Ortom came from the blues and bought the vast land for his private farm business when the people whose loved ones, houses and properties were destroyed have not been compensated,” the statement read in part.
The governor has, however, dismissed the claim, saying he has no reason to fake his attack.