Gunmen on Wednesday ambushed and killed Rev. Fr. David Tanko, a Catholic priest of Jalingo diocese at Kufai Amadu Parish in Takum local government area of Taraba state.
The cleric was said to be on his way to Takum for a peace meeting with his fellow clergymen on how to resolve the lingering Tiv/Jukun crisis when he was ambushed, killed, and his remains burnt.
The chairman of Takum local government area, Mr. Shiban Tikari, who confirmed the sad incident disclosed that after killing the cleric, the attackers set him and his car ablaze.
Tikari alleged that the deceased who hails from Wukari local government area of the state was attacked by Tiv militias.
Meanwhile, the Taraba Tiv youths Forum has condemned the murder of the Catholic priest in strongest terms and called on the Security agencies to spring to action to be sure that those behind the dastardly act are brought to book.
Mr. Kelvin Katyo, leader of the forum who spoke to our correspondent alleged that the clergyman was killed by Jukun militia who were on a mission in the area destroying Tiv settlements and mistook the Jukun born priest for a Tiv man.
He said that “Rev. Fr. David Tanko of Amadu parish was killed yesterday by the Jukun militias in Tortser as they attacked the village for the third time yesterday cutting mango trees and destroying houses. I think this is an unfortunate case of mistaken identity because another Catholic Priest Rev. Fr. Iorbee who is a Tiv man from Takum has the same type of car that Rev. Fr. Tanko is also using, and the Jukun militia probably thought it was Fr. Iorbee”.
As at the time of this report, the diocese was yet to issue an official statement to that effect, but another priest of the diocese Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Kamai has described the development as “demonic, barbaric and the height of evil” while wondering “why anyone would chose to attack and murder a Catholic Priest in such cold blood when all the Priest does is to preach and work for peace at all levels and amongst all peoples”.
Kamai said that he “received the unfortunate news of the death with rude shock, as will every other person who knows Fr. Tanko.
“We condemn any attack on peace brokers, such as Priests and other clergy. If we kill those who pray for Us then this country is in trouble. The vengeance of God will be hard on us, I pray his killers did not know he was a priest but if it is deliberate, this is a most condemnable act. Fr. Tanko was one of our best priests in Jalingo Diocese, we will miss him. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. His blood will not go in vain” tearful Kamai said.
The state Police public relations Officer DSP David Misal who confirmed the incident said that the police were “on the trail of the unknown assailants and would stop at nothing to make sure that they are arrested and brought to face justice for such a cruel act”.
Recall that crisis between the Tiv and Jukun in southern parts of Taraba state has claimed over two hundred lives since April this year and the Priests have been at the forefront of the clamour for a peaceful resolution of the senseless killings and wanton destruction of property.