George Okoh in Makurdi
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has urged the federal government to seek international assistance to curb the menace of killings being carried out by Fulani herdsmen nationwide.
He stated this yesterday during a courtesy call on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi.
Soyinka attended the 35th anniversary of Senator Suemo Chiaâ€™s novel, Adan Wade Kohol Ga, written in Tiv.
He said: â€œIf the government cannot cope, it should not shy away from asking for international help.â€
When human lives are concerned in their thousands and so on, as it was observed everywhere all over the world, those countries where our military has served before can come to our assistance, I think there should be no business of national integrity, national pride and so on.
â€œPeople are dying, this government cannot cope, please just ask for international help and I know theyâ€™re ready and willing to come to our aid.
â€œJust like refusal to recognise, and at the critical moment, the nature of a particular problem that has been the basis of the massacres going on in this region, especially Benue State. Thereâ€™s no any other word for it. Letâ€™s not play around with the euphemisms. No other word but ethnic cleansing. Thereâ€™s no other definition for what have been going on here. And itâ€™s very sad to me personally to see that a country like Nigeria, with so much human talent, has failed to learn the lesson of the history of places like Rwanda.â€
In his remark, Ortom stated that what is happening in the state is ethnic cleansing and Jihad.
According to him, â€œThis is not a hidden agenda; itâ€™s known and those people who are perpetrating it did say it. Theyâ€™re not hidden. They held press conferences, they came out and said they were going to resist our law, and that they were going to do ethnic cleansing. Itâ€™s about Jihad, itâ€™s about taking over the land, itâ€™s not about herders and farmers clashes.
â€œThey said it clearly and itâ€™s written, and we have the documents, and Iâ€™ve reported them to the security agencies. Iâ€™m in agreement with you but as law-abiding citizens, we donâ€™t even have cutlasses to fight back. We cannot use any weapon to fight back; we depend on the law enforcement agencies. Even the cutlasses that we used to have were taken away by security agencies. Our Dane guns have been surrendered to the Inspector General of Police, including those that were licensed.
So we are left in the hands of the security agents. Those of them who are posted to Benue State are doing their best and they have been victims of these attacks too. Several policemen have been killed in the course of this crisis. Soldiers and civil defence officers are not spared.
Department of State Service (DSS) is not also spared. They have been killed and slaughtered like animals. So, like you rightly said, this is not a matter of ringworm but real cancer.
â€œIf there were any other word stronger than cancer, I would have said what is happening in Benue State is more than cancer. And like you rightly observed, it is our responsibility to rise up to defend the unity of this country and to defend our integrity as leaders.â€
The governor commended Soyinka for his solidarity and President Muhammadu Buhari for upgrading the military action in the state, and expressed hope that the invaders would be flushed out.
Ortom also disclosed that several people were attacked while returning from the funeral mass of two priest and some parishioner last Tuesday.
He said there were casualties.