â€¢ Benue groups backs former minister
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi
The Senate yesterday resolved to debate the allegations of complicity in ethnic cleansing levelled against the Nigeria Army by a former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).
The weighty allegations would be debated at the plenary today.
Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba APC) raising a point of order at the plenary, said the allegations need to be discussed, as they were made by a respected Nigeria.
â€œA respected Nigerian, and a former Minister of Defence, Danjuma, last Saturday at a convocation ceremony in Taraba State, raised some weighty allegations against the Nigerian Army. Danjuma, while speaking at the event, said the Nigerian Army was aiding armed bandits in carrying out ethnic cleansing in Taraba State and in other parts of the country.
â€œThese allegations are coming from a respected Nigerian. I need the permission of the Senate to bring a proper motion tomorrow (today) so that we can debate the allegations raised,â€ Â Yusuf said.
Presiding, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, put the request to a voice vote.
More lawmakers shouted â€œnayâ€ to the request but Saraki ruled against them due to what he said is the seriousness of the matter.
â€œThe issues raised by General Danjuma are very serious. As a parliament, we cannot allow this to pass. So when the motion is brought here, lawmakers will have the opportunity to contribute and we will know the next line of action to take on the important issue,â€ he ruled.
Danjuma had called on Nigerians to rise and defend themselves against killers herdsmen on rampage in the country.
â€œThere is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in Taraba State and of course, some rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Everyone of us must rise up. You must rise to protect yourselves from these people. If you depend on the armed forces to protect you, you will all die,â€ Danjuma had said.
â€œThis ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba and it must stop in Nigeria. These killers have been protected by the military. They cover them and you must be watchful to guide and protect yourselves because you have no other place to go.
â€œThe ethnic cleansing must stop now, otherwise Somalia will be a childâ€™s play. I ask all of you to be on your alert and defend your country. Defend your state,â€ Danjuma added.
Meanwhile, a socio-cultural group in Benue State yesterday chided the federal government and its security agencies for failing to provide security for people in the state even as it backed a recent declaration by Danjuma calling on Nigerians to defend themselves against attacks by herdsmen.
At a press briefing by the leadership of the group, the President General of the Tiv socio-cultural organisation, the Mdzough U Tiv, Chief Edward Ujege, said the statement by Danjuma was a patriotic one coming from someone who ought to know and is telling the truth.
â€œThe call by Danjuma that the armed forces is not neutral and Nigerians should defend themselves is a statement of fact and the truth of the happenings in Benue State.â€
â€œWe the three socio-cultural organisations in Benue State, unequivocally support the statement urging us to be defensive.â€
He said Danjuma narration was exactly a statement of the happenings in Benue State
According to Ujege, from the year 2010 to 2016, Benue State experienced excessive bloodshed from Fulani herdsmen attacked. Over 2,000 people were murdered and properties worth 95 billion naira were destroyed in 2014 alone.
â€œBased on this, the Benue State Government through the instrumentation specified by the Nigerian Constitution came up with the law to prohibit open grazing and establishment of ranches which was a win- win case for both the farmers and the herdsmen. Instead of the federal government and the herdsmen militia accepting and implementing the law, the herdsmen went on rampage killing 73 people on the 1st and 2nd day of January, 2018 who wereÂ given mass burialâ€™
He also recalled that before the senseless murder of these innocent Benue citizens the army and security agents were fully informed and they took no action to prevent the act.
â€œBenue State Government and her people called on the federal government, the army and other security agencies for protection, the army instead decided to institute Exercise Ayem Aâ€™ Kpatuma (Ex-Cat Race) which was a failure.â€
He said instead of restoration of peace and security, the presence of the military in Benue has facilitated more attacks on the people of the state, adding that Internally Displaced People (lDPs) have increased to over 175,000.