Crisis Looms as Kuteb Tribe Appeals to President Tinubu for Urgent Intervention
Takum, Taraba State – In a desperate plea, the Kuteb tribe of Takum has sent an urgent SOS to His Excellency, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, seeking intervention amid growing tensions over the Ukwe Takum traditional stool.
The Kutebs, considered the aborigines of Takum, trace their history back to the Sixteenth Century, governing their affairs under the Ukwe (King). However, recent disputes surrounding the Ukwe stool have escalated, with implications for peace and stability in the region.
Historical Rulership in Takum
The Kutebs, once the sole rulers of Takum, faced challenges when other tribes, including the Chamba, sought inclusion in the ruling families. Resolutions in 1962 solidified the ruling families as Likam and Akenten (Kuteb) but were later disrupted by a controversial 1975 gazette that changed the title of the stool to Chief of Takum, causing ongoing crises.
Since the death of Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang in 1996, the Ukwe stool has remained vacant due to disputes fueled by the 1975 gazette. The Kuteb tribe, following their Native Law and Custom, has selected Prince Rimamnyang Habu Ahmadu as the new Ukwe Takum, completing all traditional rites.
**Taraba State Government’s Response:
Governor Dr. Agbu Kefas’ pronouncements on dismantling the Ukwe Takum dynasty and creating three Third Class Stools for Kuteb, Chamba, and Jukun (Kpanzo) have heightened tensions. The Governor’s plans to appoint the first-class chief irrespective of tribe have sparked fear and unrest, especially among the Kutebs.
**Appeal to President Tinubu:**
In a direct plea to President Tinubu, the Kuteb tribe requests urgent intervention, outlining three key points:
1. Cautioning the Governor against the potential dangers of his proposals.
2. Advising acceptance of Prince Rimamnyang Habu Ahmadu as the new Ukwe Takum.
3. Encouraging the Governor to preserve the ancient Ukwe Takum structure to avoid further unrest.
The Kuteb tribe, represented by Mr. Emmanuel Ukwu, President of KYN, expresses gratitude for the opportunity to present their concerns to President Tinubu and remains hopeful for swift and positive intervention to avert potential bloodshed in Takum and its environs.
Read full letter below:
KUTEB YATSO OF NIGERIA (KYN)
Ukwe Palace, Takum,
31st January, 2024.
Ahmed Bola Tinubu (GCON)
President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Presidential Villa, Abuja.
SOS – AN URGENT CALL TO SAVE THE KUTEB TRIBE
The Kutebs being an upshoot of the ancient Kwararafa block are the aborigines of Takum (which now comprises Takum, Ussa Local Governments and Yangtu Special Development Area) of Southern Taraba State. The Kuteb tribe is one of the fastest growing tribes in Nigeria with a population of about 500,000 spread across Taraba State and other parts of Nigeria especially Southwest and South South. Other tribes found in Takum are Jukun (Kpanzo), Chamba, Ichen, Yukuben, Tiv, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo etc.
HISTORY OF TRADITIONAL RULERSHIP IN TAKUM.
The Kutebs as the aborigines of Takum are governed by Ukwe (King) which history dates back to the Sixteenth Century. Some of the other tribes that later migrated to Takum eg, Kpanzo, Chamba, Tiv, Yukuben, Hausa had their own kings that oversaw their affairs, till 1914 when the then Colonial Government amalgamated the tribal rulerships in Takum into one Paramount Traditional Institution and upgraded it to a Third Class Stool. After a careful study of the history of the tribes in Takum, and upon realization that the Kutebs are the aborigines of Takum, the Colonial Government appointed Ukwe Ahmadu Gankwe (Kuteb) who then was a District Head as the first Paramount Ruler (Ukwe) of the newly established throne. See the list of those who have ruled Takum from 1914 below:
1. Ukwe Ahmadu Gankwe (Kuteb) 1914-1926.
2. Ukwe Hassan Gankwe (Kuteb) 1926-1929.
3. Ukwe Ibrahim Kufang Zorto (Kuteb) 1929-1938.
4. Ukwe Audu Gyaa Ahmadu (Kuteb) 1938-1963.
5. Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang (Kuteb) 1963-1996.
It is worth stating here that all these previous Ukwe Takum were selected and appointed in accordance with Kuteb Native Law and Custom which provides for only two ruling Kuteb Families of Likam and Akenten.
AGITATIONS ABOUT THE UKWE STOOL
The only migrant tribe of all the non-Kuteb tribes listed above that have for long struggled to be included among the ruling families of Takum is the Chamba. Their agitations necessitated a meeting of the Takum Native Authority on 23rd July, 1962 which resolved:
(a). That the ruling families of Ukwe Takum shall continue to be two, that is Likam and Akenten (Kuteb) ruling families.
(b). That the selectors of Ukwe Takum be recomposed to include 3 non-Kutebs, namely;
(1) Yerima Tikari (2) Sarkin Hausawa and (3) Sarkin Jukun (Kpanzo).
These compromises and adjustments in resolution (b) above were thereafter incorporated into the 1963 Northern Nigeria Government Gazette which put to rest the agitations by the Chamba; and it’s this Order that was used to select Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang in 1963.
However, unknown to and without consultations with the then Takum Traditional Council of Takum District, our Elder Statesman, General T.Y Danjuma (Chamba extraction) used his privileged position in the then Federal Military Government in collaboration with the then Military Administrator, Joseph D. Gomwalk and his kinsmen in the government of Benue Plateau brought out a new gazette No.21 of 22nd May, 1975. This new Order not only fraudulently changed the title of the Stool from Ukwe Takum to Chief of Takum but smuggled in two Chamba (non-Kuteb) families of Tikari and Dinyi among the ruling families. This new and unpopular Order was contrary to the mutually accepted resolutions of July 1962 and has been responsible for several crises, destruction of lives, and properties in the region. In response, several Committees and Commissions have been constituted by Gongola and Taraba States governments respectively being successor governments to the Benue Plateau, with their reports all recommending the repeal of the 1975 gazette of Benue Plateau State. Gongola State Government reinstated the title of Ukwe in her Legal Notice No.1 Vol.7 of 7th January, 1982.
After the death of Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang in 1996 ( ascension 1963 ), the Chamba tribe (spearheaded by our Senior Citizen General Danjuma) resuscitated their agitations and deployed their might and resources to insist that the corrupted and unpopular 1975 Order be implemented, ignoring the Judicial & Administrative Panel reports on restoration of status quo. This is the fight that kept the Ukwe Stool vacant from 1996 to January, 2024; and is the crux of this SOS letter. Mr. President, sir, this is an evil aspiration that will never be accepted by any people on earth. (To put it in perspective, it is akin to Igbo people agitating to ascend to the throne of the Oba in Lagos). The First Class Ukwe Takum Stool is the exclusive reserve of the Kuteb tribe, in the same way as the Gara Donga and Aku-Uka Wukari are to Chamba and Jukun tribes respectively. It’s our family inheritance, and as Naboth in the Scriptures refused to release his family land to King Ahab in spite of his influence, wealth and might (1Kings 21:1-16), God forbid that we’ll release or share the Stool of Ukwe Takum with any tribe, even if they offer to buy it with a handsome amount of money as did King Ahab.
Additionally, we appeal to the modern concepts of Liberty and Democracy as generally accepted practices by the UN and the majority of World governments, which guarantee and protect the rights, cultures, & freedoms of indigenous tribes; of which Nigeria is a signatory member.
In fact, the Kuteb tribe in imbibing these concepts & practices, can graciously give traditional titles to recognise personalities in the likes of our Elder Statesman General Danjuma who is outside of the Ruling Families but who have contributed immensely to the infrastructural and social developments of the community, but not the Stool itself.
APPOINTMENT OF NEW UKWE TAKUM
Having waited fruitlessly from October 22, 1996 when Ukwe Ali Ibrahim Kufang died, to January, 2024, with the Taraba State Government not having the will power to initiate the process of appointing Ukwe Takum, may be because of fear of some heavy weights, or some negative influence/agitations, the Kuteb tribe has carefully followed her Native Law and Custom and selected Prince Rimamnyang Habu Ahmadu as the new Ukwe Takum. All the traditional rites related to the Stool have been completed successfully, and we await the Taraba State Government to give him the staff of office as is the practice since the adoption of Democratic system of government in Nigeria.
REACTIONS OF THE TARABA STATE GOVERNMENT
The Taraba State Governor, His Excellency Dr Agbu Kefas is someone we esteem very highly because of his commitment to good governance and social development of the State. However, his utterances and body language, especially upon realizing that the Kuteb people have chosen a successor to the Ukwe Stool have created doubt, suspicion and restiveness in not only the Kutebs, but the other peace-loving tribes and people living in Takum, who see the new Ukwe as the return of the glory that flourished in cosmopolitan Takum. The Governor in a meeting with Takum royal families on 20th January, 2024 announced that he will dismantle the structure of the Ukwe Takum dynasty and erect an entirely new one. That he will create three Third Class Stools in Takum for Kuteb, Chamba and Jukun (Kpanzo), after which he shall appoint the first Class as the Chief of Takum, not Ukwe from any tribe, as if it’s a child’s play. Tension is mounting in this region that has suffered much attacks including banditry activities, and many people especially strangers are deserting Takum for fear of what may happen if the Governor insists on executing his purported agenda of upturning the ancient Ukwe Takum traditional structure. It is these developments that have pushed the Kutebs out to seek helps from empathetic & kind-hearted leaders like you, sir. If the Governor ventures to execute the above stated proposals, we as leaders of the Kuteb tribe cannot guarantee peace and safety of the land, as you know that traditional Stool is something that is tied to the souls of the natives, and people especially young ones can become reckless about it. We’re aborigines of Takum and own the land by God’s ordination and passionately sue for it to be spared and not divided up as proposed by the fraudulent mother in 1Kings 3:16-28.
It’s in the light of the foregoing that we appeal for your urgent intervention to prevent another phase of bloodshed in Takum and environs. We passionately request:
1. That you call the Governor’s attention to the dangers of his proposals regarding the Stool of Ukwe Takum.
2. That you advise the Governor to accept the choice of Prince Rimamnyang Habu Ahmadu by the Kutebs as the new Ukwe Takum and give the staff of office.
3. That you advise the Governor that if for any reason he’s not willing to accept the choice of the people, he should focus on his tenure as Governor and not create damages to the ancient Ukwe Stool just as he will not wish that such be done to the structure of the cherished Aku-Uka dynasty of Wukari of which he is a subject or that he belongs.
Mr President, we remain ever grateful to you for the audience granted and the optimism that our cries will be promptly heeded to by your kind Self.
Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.
MR. EMMANUEL UKWEN