Herdsmen Still Control Four Villages in Agatu, Says Idoma Initiative


  •  Indigenes might be forced to defend themselves if nothing is done

By AdedayoAkinwale in Abuja

After the Agatu carnage that left over 300 people dead,  a group,  Idoma Initiative, yesterday revealed that the rampaging Fulani herdsmen are still in control of about four villages in the community, in Benue State.

 The group also warned that if nothing is done by the federal government  to bring  the carnage to a halt that the Idoma people might be forced to defend themselves which he said might lead to the proliferation of arms.

 The leader of the Initiative,Mr. Paul Edeh, disclosed this in Abuja at the Agatu Peace Concert organised to advocate peace for the people and also to raise funds towards the rebuilding of Agatu.

  According to him: “The reason for the concert is to bring to fore as we have done in the past few months since the Agatu massacre, the pains the people feel, to keep it on the front burner.”

 Edeh said: “I can confirm to you that Fulani herdsmen are still occupying some villages that were originally for the Agatu people, particularly on the Nassarawa State axis.”

Also speaking,  another leader of the group,Mr. Moses Paul, said Abuja was chosen as the venue of the concert because the people that would make a difference in Agatu will never go to Agatu, stressing; “even the Inspector General of Police (IG) has never been to Agatu, he only stopped in Makurdi. So, we are doing it in Abuja because the president lives in Abuja, the IG lives here, all the people that matter that can do what they need to do, they all live here, this is where we can raise the money.”

He added: “We are using musicians because music is a very powerful tool, people like Fela Anikulakpo Kuti used music. Bob Marley sang untill South Africa was free…, and we have our own legend, Bongo  Sikwe, he is here too, music is beyond entertainment and can be used to bring change.”

 Paul stated: “Up till now, people do not know the extent of the damage and the carnage, and the depth of what  took place in Agatu. Over 2,000 houses have been razed, we have video clips and pictures to show, people have been killed, children were cut down like trees, people have fled their homes, over 10,000 people have no homes to lay their heads, and so this is what we continue to do to raise funds; and do the little that we can and also to put it in focus until government and people rise up to do what they need to do in support of the Agatu people.”

When asked if the federal government had done enough to curtail further attacks from the Fulani herdsmen, he said; “the killings have not even abated yet,they have curtailed it but there are villages in Agatu, almost about for villages that have been taken over completely by Fulani herdsmen, and until the people can go back and farm, until restoration is done, no, government hasn’t done anything.”

He stressed  that the Governor of the State visited  Agatu almost  seven weeks after the carnage.

Paul stressed: “In less than 24 hours when the Enugu carnage happened, which was less than  10 per cent of what happened in Agatu, the governor of the state was there and even the IG, that is what I call responsiveness.”

He was however critical against the grazing reserves being canvassed for by the herdsmen,  noting that grazing reserves were adopted in northern Nigeria during the colonial administration because the population of the country was about 50 million then.

Paul emphasised that since nobody was giving money to farmers to own lands because it’s a private business, then individuals can have their own  ranches too.

 “Musicians are here today to lend their voices and push our agenda until Agatu is restored, restoring Agatu is restoring Benue State, restoring Benue State is restoring Nigeria,” he added.

Among the musicians that graced the concert were  2face, Terry G, Black Faze, Chris Morgan.