By George Okoh in Makurdi
Three prominent groups from Benue State, Mdzough u Tiv (MUT), the Idoma National Forum and the Omi Igede have condemned the inaction of the Federal government to the recent killings by Fulani herdsmen in the state.
They described the action of Fulani herdsmen in the state as, “The barbaric killing and wanton destruction of property of Benue indigenes by Fulani herdsmen”, which they alleged had been ignored or tolerated by the powers that be. The leadership of the groups stated that they observed with dismay the refusal of both the Federal and state governments to prevent the escalation of the occupation of their lands since it started manifesting several years ago.
“We the leaders of the Mdzough U Tiv (MUT), Idoma National Forum (INF) and Omi Ny’Igede held a unity meeting at the Royal Choice Inn, Makurdi, Benue State with the Catholic Bishop of Gboko Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Williams Avenya and that of Katsina-Ala Diocese, Most Rev. Peter Adobo in attendance to give their fatherly advice. After thorough deliberations on the armed invasion and occupation of our land by Fulani Herdsmen and the wanton killing of our people, destruction of homes and farmlands, raping of our wives and daughters in 15 Local Government Areas out of 23 namely, Agatu, Gwer East, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Tarka, Buruku, Katsina Ala, Logo, Ukum, Kwande, Oju, Obi and Konshisha, we have come up with the following communiqué”
They also blamed the escalating crises on the delay in the take off the Presidential Investigation Panel promised by the President Mohammed Buhari.
“The proposed Town Hall Meeting by the Federal Government is not only diversionary, but a deliberate ploy to downplay the degree of attention and seriousness that should be accorded the invasion of our land. We wonder why the same Government that promised to set up an investigation committee is now resorting to a mere ruse called ‘Town Hall Meeting’.
We observed that the Town Hall meeting held on the 24th day of March, 2016 in Abuja by 1 Idoma Initiative with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) during which some major decisions were taken as detailed in a communiqué did not have the mandate of major stakeholders in the crisis.
“The Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps are poorly managed, and the IDPs are living in very deplorable conditions, with inadequate security arrangement and acute shortage of relief materials”, they alleged.
The groups called on the federal and state government to set up a Judicial Commission of enquiry to unravel the root causes of the gruesome massacre of Benue people.
“While we appreciate the efforts of various concerned groups at resolving the Fulani crises, the invasion of our land by people under the cover of Fulani Herdsmen should be classified as an act of Insurgency and the perpetrators labeled as terrorists to be routed out by the military.
The perpetrators and sponsors of such heinous crimes against humanity must be brought to justice”, they said.
They also demanded that all herdsmen in Benue State should relocate immediately to allow farmers go to their farms without fear of being attacked as the farming season approached in order to avoid severe famine next year, adding that a Victims Support Fund should be established for rebuilding destroyed communities with adequate compensations to families of victims.
“Since cattle are at the centre of these dastardly acts and are seen to be superior to our lives, we have resolved to desist from consuming beef or cow milk as an economic sanction and moral responsibility”, they threatened.