The tribal leaders pointed out that the Benue anti-open grazing law does not stultify the culture, movement or economic interests of any person or group of persons, including members of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Association. “That is, why up till now, a good number of herders, including Fulani, Hausa and other groups with good intentions, still reside peacefully in Benue”, Ujege stated.
“The Benue State law for the prohibition of anti-open grazing and establishment of ranches has, indeed, been justified by the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which endorsed ranching and directed that there should be no more open grazing of cattle in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba states.
“The Buhari administration’s failure to declare the killer Fulani herdsmen as terrorists and prosecute the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-Cultural Association that has allegedly incited genocide and ethnic cleansing of Benue people, particularly the Tiv race, has given us cause for concern.
“This is because of the fact that they had invited all herdsmen from around West and Central Africa to converge on Benue State and vowed to use all means available to visit mayhem on Benue people.
“This open threat, we believe, has led to the killing of 73 persons in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue on January 2, 2018 and the subsequent murder of two Catholic priests and 17 worshipers at Mbalom parish in Gwer East local government area of the state last month.”
The tribal leaders maintained that despite the presence of security personnel in parts of the state, marauders have continued to unleash mayhem on Benue communities.
“Let it be known that the killings are still on-going, at an average of two persons per day, although most of these killings are not being reported”, Ujege said.
“We categorically state that the position of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Association, as contained in their communiqué after an emergency meeting in Kaduna, clearly constitutes the height of lawlessness, impunity and terrorism, which must not be condoned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The same Constitution of Nigeria they are quoting also provides that every state in the country has the right to enact laws for the good governance of her people. Miyetti Allah has no right whatsoever to threaten the implementation of the anti-open grazing and provision of ranches law in Benue.
“We must not forget nor shy away from expressing our fears about the impression being created, latent or apparent, that the Miyetti Allah has become the mouth piece of the Federal Government.
“How else do we explain the body language of the government through statements by its highly placed officials including the Chief of Army Staff, Inspector-General of Police, Minister of Defence, and even, President Muhammadu Buhari himself, in the face of the herdsmen killings in Benue?
“We and indeed, other concerned Nigerians, are yet to come to terms with the Inspector-General’s false and misleading assertion that the killings in Benue were as a result of communal clashes.
“What about the declaration, by the Defence Minister, that the anti-open grazing law in Benue was the cause of the Fulani killings? Why would the Chief of Army Staff advice Governor Ortom to review the anti-open grazing law to make for harmonious living by the various groups in the state?
“Then President Buhari told the world during his recent visit to America that those responsible for the killings in the Benue and other parts of the Middle Belt were Libyans who were armed by the late Gadhafi?
“We also wish to renew our demand for the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Fulani Socio-Cultural Association, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejor, the Secretary, Engr Saleh Alhassan and Garus Gololo, for threatening to resist the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in the state.”
‘Operation Whirl Stroke’
The tribal leaders also appealed to the security operatives of the recently launched military spike operation in the state code named ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ to execute the task of restoring normalcy to the troubled communities of the state with a view to creating a conducive environment in such communities to enable the over 200,000 displaced persons in the state to return to their ancestral homes.
“It is only when that is done and the people are able to go back to their farms in order to avert a looming crisis in the state and our children are able to return to school, that we will score the operation high and also justify their presence in the state,” Ujege said.
They insisted that the call and agitation by several sections of the country for the restructuring of the Nigeria shouldn’t be swept under the carpet by the present administration in view of the security challenge facing the country.
Speaking on the bill sent to the National Assembly by the Federal Government to regulate water resources in the country, the tribal leaders cautioned against the move, saying it endangers the peace and unity of the country.Related