Some elected representatives of Benue State met yesterday to deliberate on the recent development in their State with respect to the increase killings of people of Benue State and constant attacks by the Fulani Herdsmen.
The representative that came for the meeting cuts across members from the Nigerian Senate, House of Representative and the State House of Assembly, they issued a press statement at the end of their deliberations in which they condemned in strong terms the continuous dastardly and unprovoked attacks on our electorates by Fulani herdsmen and further called on the federal government led by President Buhari for possible permanent solution to end these carnage and stamp the tide of constant Fulani Herdsmen – Farmers attacks/classes:
The Press Release reads below.
The 2nd January 2018 Tiv Genocide by Fulani Herds Men: A Call for Federal Government Intervention.
This press release is made with a heavy heart. This is because the peace which heralded the New Year in Benue state was cut short as the people of the state woke up in rude shock as communities in Guma and Logo local governments of the state were again attacked without provocation by Fulani herdsmen on the 2nd of January, 2018.
Benue State which is the Food Basket of the nation is one of the states in the north central region of the country. It is worthy to state clearly that land and water resources are core to the life of the Benue people because of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State, 80% of the people are farmers, 15% are fishermen and the remaining 5% are urban or semi urban based civil servants. This shows clearly that agriculture is the life wire of the Benue people.
It is sad and unfortunate to state that, Benue state has experienced the highest number of attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the last few years due to the quest by Fulani herders to graze on farm lands belonging to Benue farmers by all means. It is worthy to note that, hitherto, there were two groups of Fulani herdsmen that came to the State for grazing activities and were totally accepted by the people.
The first was the resident Fulani who were allotted portions of land and as such, they lived at the fringes of the farming Communities with their wives and children. While the men tended the cattle with their male children, the wives extracted juice (Nunu) and moved around the villages to sell the milk. They did not carry offensive weapons. Apart from these resident Fulani’s, there was the migrant Fulani who came in with their cattle and family members during post-harvest periods only to graze their cattle and leave immediately farming season starts. They also came either through the resident Fulani or direct contact with a community leader.
With these two groups, conflicts very rarely though emanating from grazing activities were amicably resolved between the herders and the farming communities through traditional means.
However, this cordial relationship changed with strange arrival of the third wave of Fulanis with militia elements. The new Fulanis that came into Benue state jettisoned the laid down understanding between the previous two groups of Fulanis and the communities. They arrived with sophisticated weapons including AK 47 without their family members and do not seek permission from community leaders before invading their communities. They come even during planting season destroying crops, killing people and burning down villages.
It is heart breaking to Say that over 9 local governments in the state have greater portions of their communities sacked and occupied by Fulani herdsmen killing over 5000 people and destroying properties worth over Billions of Naira.
The above events and figures are just few of the unprovoked attacks on the peace loving people of Benue state without a clear statement and action from the Federal Government.
In recent times, the Benue people have begun to perceive the silence of the Federal authorities especially in the presence of the threats by the leadership of Miyyetti Allah Kautal Hore led by Alh. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and one Gololo representing the Benue wing of the association who vowed to invade and destroy Benue communities if the anti-open grazing law signed into law by the state is not reversed as a deliberate attempt to annihilate the people of the state.
With the above figures and “hate speeches” against the Benue state government and her people, it has become pertinent for us elected representatives of the peace loving people of the state at the Senate, House of Representative and the State House of Assembly to condemn in strong terms this dastardly and unprovoked attacks on our electorates by Fulani herdsmen and to remind the federal government of the following:
That Benue people are peace loving and have continued to seek peace with all her legitimate neighbours. We as representatives have also continued to prevail on our people not to take laws into their hands as we seek a permanent solution to the problem through dialogue as the Benue state government and federal elected representatives have officially presented this case personally to our President;
That the purpose of every government is the protection of life and property. This is why the Benue State Government in the bid to protect her citizenry followed due constitutional process to pass into law the Anti open grazing law;
That Benue state is the food basket of the nation and if its agricultural powers are cut off by the herders, Nigeria is in line towards food insecurity;
That Benue state had contributed greatly towards protecting the territorial integrity of the country during the Nigerian civil war;
Benue sons such as Generals Chris Abutu Garba, John Mark Inienger, Gabriel Kpamber amongst others distinguished themselves in representing Nigeria in proving security at the international level such as in Liberia, Sierra leone amongst others;
With the return of democracy in 1999, the people of the state voted and supported the PDP for 16 years and currently they voted massively for the present government both at the state and federal levels with the belief that the government will protect life and property;
That the Benue state government and her people are not confronting the Federal Government or the Fulani herdsmen in a war but it is only seeking a constitutional end to the perennial conflicts that have had devastating consequences on the overall development of the state by the implementation of the anti-open grazing law;
That Benue state and her people have greatly been marginalized in national calculations during this present administration in areas of infrastructural provision (roads, rail, establishment of security formations etc), and Federal appointments. Despite this, the people have not taken up arms against the Nigerian state as done in other segments of the country who are not only less in population but have contributed less in the Nigerian project;
That the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari who is loved by the Benue people should remember that Miyyetti Allah Kautal Hore led by Alh. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo publically endorsed the former President against President Buhari during the 2015 general elections (pictures are everywhere to attest to this). And it is the same group that has been allowed by the same government it fought against to cause high level insecurity in the country against the people that supported the president without caution;
That the attacks on Benue state are deliberately designed to cause fear in other states that are desirous of emulating Benue state by passing and implementing the anti-open grazing law in their states.
Despite these frustration faced by the Benue people, we their representatives still have absolute confidence in the present government under President Buhari. This is why we seek on behalf of our people to obtain the following actions from the Federal Government with immediate effect:
To immediately arrest and prosecute the leadership of Meyetti Allah Kautal Hore that had vowed to invade the state at the beginning of this year if the Anti-open grazing law legally passed and signed into law is not reversed;
The Federal Government should support the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing law passed and signed into law by Benue state government and other states;
The Federal Government to establish a military base on the Nasarawa –Benue and Taraba Benue state border for quick response to threats by the herders;
To set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the persistent conflicts between the herders and farmers;
To immediately set up camps and send humanitarian assistants to the affected communities and to immediately compensate the affected communities;
To establish the North Central Development Commission to address the plight of the area arising from the damage caused by the persistent conflicts between the herders and farmers;
The federal government should proscribe Miyyetti Allah Kautal Hore as a terrorist group and treat it as such.
HE Sen. George Akume
Sen. Barnabas Gemade
Rt. Hon. John Idyegh
Rt. Hon. Barr. Emmanuel Udende
Hon. Dickson Tarkighir
Hon. Barr. Benjamin Wayo
Hon. Entonu Ademu Ochepo
Rt. Hon. Ezekiel Adaji
Rt.Hon. Dorothy Mato
Rt. Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange
Rt. Hon. Benjamin Adanyi
Hon. Bem Mngutyo