The Community Development Coalition (CDC), an Abuja based advocacy group of concerned indigenes of Benue State, has accused the federal government of deliberately paying ‘deaf ears’ to what they described as deteriorating security situation in the state.
The coalition also rejected the proposed ‘cattle colonies’ while maintaining that cows should be kept in ranches. They also insisted on the for full implementation of the open grazing prohibition law in the state.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, the convener, Prof. Yima Sen, lamented that since the present administration came into office in 2015, there have been at least 20 vicious attacks on defenceless Benue communities which has claimed more than 100 lives and destruction of properties worth billions of Naira.
He said, “What is particularly disturbing is the level of insensitivity that has characterized the usual slow, belated and knee-jerk response of the federal government, and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We find it completely unacceptable that this last attack was actually receded by a proud and arrogant boast by known officilas of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, the social-cultural association of herdsmen, to the effect that Benue will know no peace.
This statement was made in response to the passage into law of the open grazing prohibition law.” According to Sen, giving the level of impunity and defiance with which the herdsmen operate, “the people of the state are left with no option than to conclude that the president, who by the way, is the grand patron of Miyetti Allah, has turned an open eye and is bent on keeping a deaf ear to these atrocities, or that he is actively involved in the diabolical and outrageous scheme,” he stated.
Threatening self defence, Sen said since the government has failed in its constitutional responsibility to provide security and welfare for the people of the state, “we have no option than to take our destiny into our hands. No longer shall we rely on an inept, deficient, compromised and grossly ineffective security apparatus for our protection,” he said.
Also speaking, Bernard Verr, said besides their threat to rely on self defence, they are not calling for anarchy, explaining that it is not just about Benue and that if nothing is done, the attack is going to continue and probably spread to other parts of the country.
In a related development, some pressure groups under the auspices of Community Development Coalition (CDC) and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to go to Benue State and appease the government and families bereaved from herders’ attacks and killings. The CDC, in a statement read by Chief Cliff Atile, said the president must act decisively against the killer-herdsmen by not only arresting and prosecuting them, but visiting the state to commiserate with the people. The group stated that they were not satisfied with security arrangements in Benue.
“The police cannot protect us and we reject the issue of colonies. We were colonised by the British. We can’t be colonised again by the Fulani”, they stated. The group urged the federal government to introduce civilised and scientific methods to contain what they call the pogrom in Benue.
“It’s highly primitive for a people to be carrying cattle and children about in the 21st century”, they concluded. Deputy National President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Comrade Mohammed Kudu Abubakar, on his part, maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately pronounce herdsmen as a terrorist organization.
Abubakar revealed his disgust at how the president has kept silent for long over the killings by herdsmen despite calls from all corners demanding that the president take proactive actions to curb the excesses of herdsmen. Condemning the various killings by herdsmen, Abubakar said that they should be seen as a terrorist group because they have been killing for long time and should be dealt with in line with the law of the country.
“A criminal is a criminal; they are terrorists and have to be dealt with regardless of the tribe they are from. The president should follow the constitution and deal with them accordingly. The killing is very criminal and the herdsmen should not go unpunished,” The deputy president of AYCF said. He also demanded that a committee should be set up to investigate how herdsmen evolved from nomads into gun-wielding cattle rearers.
“The federal government has to make a panel to investigate who these herdsmen are and why they behave the way they do. We need to ask where they get the guns they used in the killing and where they learned how to shoot guns,” he said.
Commenting on the Anti-open Grazing Bill (currently in practice in only Ekiti and Benue state) which Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association have strongly opposed, Abubakar upheld that each state has the right to pass a law that will guide it, stressing that the herdsmen should either abide by this law or leave the state. “If Benue State comes out with the law through its National Assembly and bars movement of Fulani herdsmen, they have the right to do so. It is their state, that is how they want to stay and there is nothing wrong in that. They (herdsmen) should move away from the state rather than forcing themselves and be causing trouble because a lot of lives are going down,” he opined.
He then beckoned on the military to begin a raid to fish out and prosecute herdsmen who go around with guns to prevent further loss of lives and properties.
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