It was serious confusion that took place recently at the matriculation ceremony of the Taraba State Polytechnic after students engaged in a free-for-all, injuring one another in what appeared to be an ethnic clash.
According to Leadership, the 28-year-old institution held its matriculation a week ago at the institution’s premises located in Jalingo.
The ceremony, however, turned bloody amid clashes between Jukun and Kuteb students of the institution during the matriculation’s cultural display.
Basically, the Jukun (Njikum) are traditionally located in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, and Gombe States in Nigeria and parts of northwestern Cameroon.
On the other hand, the Kuteb (or Kutep) people are an ethno-linguistic group in West Africa, who speaks Kuteb, a Jukunoid language. Most of the Kuteb live in Taraba State, Nigeria.
While many of the students and dignitaries had arrived and the ceremony began, the cultural troupes who were predominantly students had designated canopies where they and their entourage were housed.
At the occasion were the state Commissioner for Tertiary Institutions, Edwards Baraya, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, John Musa, and the rector of the Polytechnic, Ayuba Ibrahim.
Instead of a cultural display, the event turned bloody.
“Sadly, it ended with a free for all,” said a student Mustapha Salisu.
“The Jukun cultural group who had a long procession from the uncompleted overhead bridge from the Jalingo town into the school were also set and prepared to be ushered into the dancing arena by the master of the ceremony as well as the Kuteb cultural group before the chaos started.”
A student of the institution Amina Abdullahi (not real name) said the Jukun student who was holding a big stick as part of their culture display used it to attack the Kuteb student.
She said, “We were prepared and waiting for the MC to call us for our display to entertain the guests, however, two students, one who was from the Kuteb and another from Jukum side engaged in a serious argument. In the blink of an eye, the Jukum student who was holding a big stick as a sign of culture descended on the Kuteb student.
“The Kuteb student scampered for safety and ran into the arena where the dignitaries were seated yet he was not saved. However, in the presence of both security and the dignitaries, the Jukum student hit the Kuteb student with the stick, and blood started gushing out from his head.
“He hit him continuously, and the Kuteb student fell, the school security quickly rushed and arrested the Jukun student at the spot.
“The chairman of the matriculation Mr Bambuu stood up and declared the matriculation ceremony close.”
The rector said in an interview that the school had suspended all cultural activities following the clash between the Jukum and Kuteb cultural groups.
Ibrahim lamented that the clash led to the disruption of the matriculation on Saturday, July 31.
Checks revealed that although the student who attacked and injured the Kuteb student was arrested at the spot, he was released while the injured student was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo.