Benue: Fear of Bloodshed Heightens as Bodies Raise Alarm over Agatu
Socio-Cultural organisations in Benue State, Mdzough u Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’Igede have raised the alarm over the exodus of Fulani herdsmen into Agatu Local Government Area of the state at the weekend to graze their cattle, against the antiopen grazing law enacted by the state government, expressing fear that the development might trigger conflict and dovetail into bloodshed.
It would be recalled that the herdsmen on January 1, 2018, massacred over 73 people in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas, including children and women, some of whom had their pregnancies ripped open and the unborn children killed.
That brazen rascality and horrendous massacre in the state began in 2011 and has so far affected 13 local government areas. It was as a result of the incessant killings and destruction of properties, including farm produce, that prompted the promulgation of an anti-open grazing law by the Benue State government to prevent further conflict between herders and farmers with its attendant loss of lives.
Briefing newsmen in Makurdi yesterday, the three socio-cultural bodies led by Engr. Edward Ujege, president general of Mdzough u Tiv, Barr. Amali Adoya Amali and Ode Enyi disclosed that no fewer than 20 motorcycles, each carrying three Fulani herdsmen, were seen crossing over to Agatu at the weekend and called on law enforcement agents to do the needful to prevent anything untoward.
The fear expressed by these socio-cultural organisations is borne out of the threats of fresh blood issued by the vice president of Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association, Hussaini Yusuf Bosso, and president, Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, Badu Salosu Ahmadu, at different fora after the January 1 massacre.
“The national vice president of Miyettdi Allah Cattle Herders Association, Husaini Yusuf Bosso, as reported in Daily Sun newspaper of 13th January 2018, warned that more blood will be shed in Benue State if the anti-open grazing law was not scrapped.”
“In a press statement issued in Kaduna on the 13th of January 2018, the President of the Fulani Nationality Movement, Badu Salisu Ahmadu described the killings in Benue particularly of Tiv people as ‘well deserving and a revenge attack on onslaught on Fulani in neighbouring Nasarawa state.’ Badu Ahmadu went further to ask all Fulani across West Africa to raise money and arms to prosecute the war against Benue people as well as penetrate every corner of Nigeria.”
“Despite the horrendous and barbaric murder of over two thousand Benue indigenes in the past seven years and the heinous massacre of over 70 innocent people on the first of January, 2018 as well as the wanton destruction of property, the Miyetti Allah and other Fulani groups such as the Fulani Nationality Movement are still sounding the gongs of genocide against our hapless people.”
“This declaration of mayhem against our people by the Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors has been sustained for over seven years without any effort by the Federal Government which is in control of all the security machinery to curtail or contain the threat or marauders.”
As a result, we have paid dearly with the lives of over two thousand men, women and children.
“As law abiding people, we raised alarm over such inciting statements especially through several press conferences in Makurdi and Abuja. We also wrote letters to all the security agencies particularly the Army, Police, Navy, Air Force and the Department of State Security and the Minister of Interior.”
We also petitioned the President through an open letter published in Vanguard Newspaper of 10th November 2017 as well as the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The three main socio-cultural organisations in Benue State also petitioned the Sultan of Sokoto and Emir of Kano who are grand patrons of Miyetti Allah seeking their intervention to prevail and restrain the herders from invading our land. Unfortunately, all our pleas, entreaties and outcries fell on deaf ears,” the groups lamented.
According to them, the silence from the Federal Authorities and others who appeals were made to restrain the marauders emboldened the Miyetti Allah and their gangs of killers to invade and massacre over seventy of our people on the first of January 2018 and six in Odonto-Akpa in Otukpo Local Government area as well as four in Ojapo in Okpokwu local government area.
“Despite public declarations by leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association accepting culpability for the recent massacre as revenge or reprisal over alleged cattle rustling, no arrest have been made three weeks after the incidents.”
“We want to note here that there has been no reported case of rustling in Benue State.”
This has always been the case in all the incidents that had taken place since 2011. For instance, in 2013, the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen in Agatu openly boasted that his men carried out the attack on Okpachenyi community where 40 people were massacred.
Till date, neither him nor any of his men was arrested.
“We have in the past seven years watch with horror how the Federal Government treat the Miyetti Allah and the herdsmen invasion of our state and indeed the entire middle belt region with kids gloves.”
Despite the brazen nature of their acts of criminality throughout the middle belt zone, none of the herdsmen has ever been arrested or made to account for these crimes. Instead, they enjoy government protection from arrest or prosecution.
All government action has been on how to appease the aggressors rather than find succour or consolation for the victims.
“The most heinous of such appeasement is the Federal Government plan for cattle colonies. This approach clearly show that the Federal Government places higher premium on cattle rather than on human lives. It is however gratifying that the opposition to cattle colonies is mounting and widespread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.”
“We categorically reject the cattle colony idea and condemn the manner the Federal Government as well as some Governors are trying to politicise the massacre in Benue State.”
“We detest the indifferent attitude of the northern governors that were expressing support for the re-election of President Buhari on the very day we were grieving and burying our dead.”
We take special exception that none of these governors had condoned the Benue people despite our socio-cultural and political affinity.
“It is in this light that we reaffirm our rejection of President Buhari’s condolence message to Governor Ortom because we know it is not from his heart.”
He has even proved us right when he told the high powered Benue delegation which visited him to ‘restrain your people and in the name of God accommodate your Countrymen.’
We now know we cannot obtain justice from the President whose declarations made us the culprits and not the victims,” the socio-cultural groups further lamented.