George Okoh in Makurdi
Finding solutions to the perennial crises between herdsmen and farmers in several communities in Nigeria could only be achieved if the issue is approached with an open mind, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
The vice-president, who is leading a presidential committee to find solutions to the crises, said unless everyone concerned viewed all the issues in the matter objectively, it would be difficult to find lasting solutions to the problem.
Osinbajo, who spoke through Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi that represented him during a fact finding mission to Benue State Monday, commiserated with the government and people of the state, saying the New Year Day killings and subsequent ones stood condemned.
“We are here to tell you that we feel your pains because whatever happened to Benue may affect other ethnic groups in Nigeria. That is why in the national economic council meetings, the issue of farmers and herdsmen’s crises were discussed extensively after which an agreement was reached that a nine-man committee to be set up to proffer sustainable solutions to the crisis between the two bodies,” he said.
According to the vice-president, as part of the efforts to resolve the crises, a sub-committee was raised to visit the four most affected states including Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau to interact with the people and get their views.
“We have heard the presentation of the Benue people and shall also try to hear the presentation of the herdsmen so that sustainable resolutions could be found,” Umahi, his representative said, adding: “The herdsmen/farmers crises is not a Benue problem alone but a national problem, which requires national attention and solutions.”
He clarified the cattle colony policy of the federal government, saying that states could not be forced to give up their land except they buy into the programme.
Receiving the delegation, Governor Samuel Ortom thanked the committee for coming to the state.
He appreciated the committee for choosing the state as its first port of call and expressed optimism that the visit would afford its members opportunity to see things for themselves.
“We choose the path of peace in a civilized way to tackle the crisis even when Fulani herdsmen are killing our people like chickens,” he said, adding: “We remain committed to this cause in ensuring that we live in peace. We must not accept the total deceit that is going on in the country.”
Ortom said the anti-open grazing law started smoothly until Miyetti Allah issued a threat, which was actually carried out by them. “Therefore, l want to urge the committee to work assiduously to bring justice to Benue,” he stated.
The President-General, Mzoh U Tiv, Chief Edwin Ujege, who spoke on behalf of Benue socio-cultural groups, said the people of Benue State wanted peace and the protection of the lives and property in accordance with Nigerian constitution.
According to him, since the crisis started in 2011 in Benue State, well over 2,000 people have been killed including women and children with property worth N95 billion destroyed.
He said the federal government must uphold the anti-open grazing law enacted by the Benue State government.
Missing Policeman Found Dead
Meanwhile, a police officer who went missing in the state on Saturday has been found dead, locals told PREMIUM TIMES Monday.
The officer, whose identity has not yet been disclosed, was amongst the four riot police officers that went missing following an ambush on their patrol vehicle in Logo Local Government Area on Saturday.
The incident occurred in Tse Akpam village, near Azege town around 3:00 p.m. Saturday while the officers were returning from a peace-building mission in remote villages, Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni told PREMIUM TIMES.
The remains of the officer, said to be a sergeant, were found in the bush on Monday morning and had been deposited at a morgue in Anyiin, another town in Logo LGA, locals said.
Suspected Headsmen Kill 2 Civil Defence Men
Two operatives of the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) and one of the missing police riot policemen missing since Sunday in Logo have been confirmed killed.
The two NSCDC operatives were killed during an attack on their patrol team at Awange after Kasseyol Village in Guma Local Government area of Benue State.
The Public Relations Officer of the Benue State Command of the NSCDC, Mr Adakole John Peter, confirmed the incident, saying both men were killed when herdsmen stormed the village about 5pm Monday and attacked their team.