By Atekojo Ejima:
The three major socio- Cultural Groups in Benue, Mdzough-u-Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’ Igede have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Ministr of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali over his alleged comments on the Benue killings on a recent Channels Television Programme.
The groups in a statement in Abuja at the weekend accused the Minister of compromising his position saying he was in violation of his oath of office to protect the lives of Nigerians and territorial integrity of the country by his “ complicity” in the killings.
The statement reads in full:
“The attention of the three main socio-cultural groups in Benue State: Mdzough-u-Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’ Igede, has been drawn to the reckless, highly provocative, unstatesmanly and divisive comments by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali on a Channels Television Programme on the sustained senseless and organised killings of Benue people by the Fulani Herdsmen.
The Minister in his comments attributed the unprovoked barbaric murder of innocent and defencelss children, pregnant women and the aged in Benue state to the enactment of the Anti-Open Grazing Law by the Government of Benue State.
We are extremely saddened by the public show of partiality, partisanship by the Minister of Defence whose oath of office requires of him to defend the territorial integrity and all peoples of Nigeria including the good people of Benue state from both internal and external aggression.
We hasten to ask this critical question: If the killings in Benue were as a result of the anti-Open Grazing law, to what will the Minister attribute the killings of farmers by Fulani Herdsmen and wanton destruction of farms and property in Adamawa, Plateau, Ondo, Edo, Nasarawa and other states of the Federation in recent weeks where such a law is not in place?
The Minister has by his statements on a national Television network clearly demonstrated that he has grossly compromised the oath of his office by openly endorsing the blood – letting in Benue.
We hasten to declare that there can be no justification to take human life under any circumstance in the manner the Minister shamelessly justified in the Television programme.
The Minister’s provocative statement, which comes shortly after an equally condemnable remarks by the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris that the January 1, 2018 cold-blooded killings of over 70 people in Guma and Logo LGAs of Benue State, has reinforced our earlier held suspicion that the Fulani Herdsmen have been acting with the full backing of top government officials in the Buhari-led administration.
Arising from the above therefore, we the people of Benue State through the three major socio-cultural groups hereby make the following demands:
1. We call for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Dan-Ali, who has evidently compromised his office by failing to send the Military to Benue since the latest crisis started, while he was quick to advise the deployment of troops to other parts of the country.
2. Alternatively, we call on President to sack and prosecute the Minister of Defence for complicity in the murder of innocent Benue citizens.
3. Should President Muhammadu Buhari fail to sack the Minister, we urge the National Assembly to immediately investigate the President’s role in the Benue killings with the view to possibly impeaching him if found wanting in the performance of his duties by failing to avert the killings of the Benue people after several complaints and official report by the State Governor, Samuel Ortom and the three socio-cultural organisations.
We wish to call on the international community to wade into the gross violation of the right to lives of harpless Benue people and the unwholesome destruction of their farms and other means of livelihood.
We are grateful to the various socio-cultural groups across the country notably the Afenifere, Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, the South-South People, human rights and pro-democracy activists and organisations, religious groups, Elder statesmen, opposition political parties, state Governors, members of the National Assembly, Traditional Rulers, the Media and other well – meaning Nigerians, who have resolutely stood by us by opening condemning the genocide against Benue people.
Chief (Engr) Edward Ujege, FNSE
(Zege Mule u Konshisha)
President-General, Mdzough U Tiv
Barr Amali Adoka Amali
Idoma National Forum
Chief Ode Enyi
Omi Ny’ Igede