By Danusa Ocholi:
The people of Benue under the aegis of apex socio-cultural organisations representing the three major ethnic groups in the state, Mzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum, and Omi Ny’Igede Thursday evening rose with one voice to condemn the continual attacks on the people of the state by rampaging Fulani herdsmen who in the last one week accounted for the death of no fewer than 100 people ,mainly peasant farmers in the state. At a press conference in Abuja addressed by President-General of Mzough U Tiv, Chief [Engr.] Edward I. Ujege on behalf of the groups, the people of the state expressed concern that the violence unleashed on the people of the state was degenerating into genocide , wondering why the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhamadu Buhari has not deemed it fit to take appropriate action to arrest the situation.They therefore in clear terms rejected the condolence message of President Muhammed Buhari to the people of the state over the recent killings saying it was not sincere.
The Benue leaders added: “Benue State is not ready to accept the condolence message sent to Governor Ortom and the people of the state by President Buhari because it is not from the bottom of his heart. We believe that the Government is playing to the gallery. There is no safeguard and guarantee that these incidences will not occur again.”
They therefore cried to the rest of Nigerians and the international community to come to their rescue before the violence unleashed on their people gets out of hand.
According to Chief Ujege,” We the people of Benue ,wish to remind the President that we voted massively for this government to protect us and provide condusive atmosphere for development, but the reverse is now the case. We also want to remind the President that he swore an oath to defend all citizens of Nigeria but has failed woefully in the discharge of this responsibility in Benue State.”
The Benue leaders stated that they are deeply worried that the Federal Government did not take action to stem the recent attacks as well as the previous attacks even when the Myetti Allah Kautal Hore, the group that protects Fulani interests had warned that they were going to unleash terror on Benue communities late last year.
The Benue leaders said that apart from their open threat to resist the Anti-Grazing Law enacted by the State Government, the President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore , Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bododjo and Secretary, Saleh Alhassan both had openly declared that their association would deploy every means and mobilize their people to resist the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
Chief Ujege said as reported in various newspapers in October 2017, the Fulani group “further directed its members to commence their convergence on Benue land in order to resist the Anti-Open Grazing Law. We were reliably informed that already there was mass gathering of cattle and militia men at Kungwa in Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State which was reported to appropriate security agencies but for which no action was taken.
The people of Benue maintained that “our three main socio-cultural organisations , and indeed the entire people of Benue State are deeply troubled because of our nasty experience, especially the avalanche of attacks on our people and the fact that the Fulani herdsmen already tagged as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world by global index as published in the Vanguard Newspaper of first June 2017 have the capacity , capability and means to carry out their threats.”
They expressed sadness that in more than five years the Myetti Allah Kautal Hore allegedly “sponsored herdsmen have carried about 40 major and deadly attacks in 14of the 23 local government areas on Benue State. We had paid dearly for the atrocities of the herdsmen with over two thousand lives of our men, women and children. Till date, over 500 persons are still missing while over half a million people were displaced, and the future of almost a million youths truncated. Similarly, over nine hundred households were affected in the various attacks carried out by the herdsmen, while properties worth over 95 billion Naira were destroyed in 2014 alone.”