Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue says security agencies did not take proactive measures to protect the state against its aggressors after several complaints of planned attacks reported to them and the presidency.
Ortom made this known on Wednesday in Makurdi at a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the security situation in the state.
“I saw the attacks coming and we wrote several letters of complaint to the police and complained to the presidency, yet nothing happened.
“We called for the arrest of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) but nobody responded; we have facts that can be used against them.”
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and top police officers including the DIG operations, Habila Joshak, two commissioners of police for Benue and Nasarawa states were in attendance.
The governor expressed regret that after repeated complaints to the police and other security agencies in the country on the threats of attacks by MACBAN, nothing was done to secure lives and property in the state.
“We called for the arrest of leaders of the association; we had evidence to support our claims but nobody paid heed to us.
“We wrote to you IGP three times but received no response. We briefed the presidency yet to no avail,” he lamented.
Ortom said the refusal of the security agencies to act and their lackadaisical attitude on the matter led to the mayhem of January 1.
He wondered why open statements of intended aggression against the state on national television, radio stations by members of the association had not been investigated and arrests effected.
He vowed to continue with the anti-open grazing law, stressing “there is no land in Benue for open grazing”.
Ortom said he would not adopt the cattle colonies as suggested by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.
He appealed to the IGP to immediately order for the arrest of leaders of MACBAN to give hope to the ordinary citizens that all people were equal before the law.
The governor said that the herdsmen that attacked the state came from their bases in Nasarawa State and challenged the police to refute his claims.
Responding, the IGP said he had not received such letters of complaints from the governor but promised to investigate the claims and fish out the aggressors.
He said the police had deployed 663 police operatives and created 10 mobile units to deal with the insecurity in the state.
Idris said the police would deploy helicopter surveillance to monitor the movement of such miscreants across the state and pledged to be diligent in discharging the presidential assignment.
He explained that the situation was not yet beyond the capacity of the police, stressing “there is no need for the army to be invited”.
Other speakers at the meeting include the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, who called on the IGP to ensure the arrest of the aggressors.
They rejected the suggestion for the establishment of cattle colonies in the state and affirmed their support for the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
They also called on the Federal Government to commence the process of establishing ranches across the country as a panacea to farmers/herders clashes.
The high point of the meeting was the open apology by the IGP for describing the Benue killings as “communal clashes”, following insistence from participants.
“I apologise (to Benue people) for the misconception of the statement I made at a press conference in Abuja.
“I was only trying to convey a message that Nigerians should live together in peace. As policemen, we try to avoid divisive statements”, Ibrahim Idris said.
Herdsmen Have Declared War On Nigeria – Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has added his voice to the outrage that has greeted the brutal killing of farmers in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen.
Soyinka said the killer herdsmen had declared war on Nigeria.
The world acclaimed writer and civil rights leader expressed his views on Wednesday in a statement entitled, ‘Impunity Rides Again’.
He condemned the impunity by which the herdsmen perpetrated evil while the Federal Government allegedly looked the other way.
While bemoaning the failure of government to nip the attacks in the bud, he called on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to halt the murderous activities of the herdsmen without further delay.
According to him, the failure of government to heed the warnings given by concerned Nigerians was largely responsible for the violation of more lives.
He said the president’s reluctance to take decisive actions against the herdsmen was akin to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s indifference when he was informed about the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok.
While insisting that the president was handling the continued killings of farmers with kid gloves, the poet pointed out that Jonathan did same with Boko Haram, leading to its subsequent escalation.
The playwright wondered why the Buhari-led government had not considered some of the suggestions which stakeholders recommended as solutions to the crisis.
Soyinka also lambasted Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, for saying the herdsmen were carrying out the attacks because the Federal Government had not done enough to cater for their needs.
Part of the statement reads: “In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror.
“Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!
“It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time.
“How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate!
“I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series, and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement.
“There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation.
“Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.
“Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalise what were so obviously discernible as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination.
“Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram!”
Soyinka berated Audu Ogbeh over his comments.
“What else does one make of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators?”
Fayose Asks Ortom To Protect His People, Places Ekiti Hunters On Alert
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has charged hunters and local vigilante groups in the 16 local government areas of the state to be on red alert to ward off any possible attack on the people of the state by Fulani herdsmen.
The governor addressed hundreds of armed hunters at the Government House Pavilion in Ado-Ekiti.
He said security reports suggested that the dreaded herdsmen were making an incursion into the state’s Forest Reserve.
Fayose boasted that he would never have cause to meet or beg President Muhammadu Buhari for any assistance.
Fayose asked Buhari to urgently declare the rampaging herdsmen as terrorists following the unprecedented massacre which they carried out in Benue and other parts of the country recently.
The governor raised the alarm concerning some persons identified as Bororos who have reportedly begun to move into the outskirts of Ekiti with an alleged aim to kill and maim people and thereby rubbish his anti-grazing law.
He met with all local hunters from the 16 local government areas of the state and charged them to secure the state.
He promised to secure offices for the hunters in all the local government areas and the state capital.
Fayose equally hosted the Benue people residing in Ekiti and expressed his sympathy over the killings in their home state.
“I sympathise with our brothers, sisters, and people from Benue State that are mourning the brutality of those who killed their kinsmen,” he said.
The governor, who observed a minute silence for the dead in Benue, was clad in a military uniform.
He also urged members of the vigilante group to obtain voter cards, saying it would enable them to vote out the APC government.
He said: “This (military dressing) is done to charge our hunters to secure the state.
“I saw pictures of the killings and I wondered if those were human beings.
“I asked the questions if people could be that wicked to kill human beings that way.
“They will find no peace. It is no tribal killings but that of mindless people.
“The blood of the departed will find those people and they won’t know peace.
“It is the duty of the Federal Government to protect its people. We are not protected.
“We have never had it so bad. People must come to leadership with a conscience.
“The Federal Government should have sent the army not the police.
“Governor Ortom should fasten his belt and protect his people.
“Those seeking help in Abuja would not find it because Abuja also needs help.
“I sympathise with you, this is your home and nobody would kill you. You are all save here.”
The governor also spoke to the farmers in the state who were excited to meet him.
“I have received letters that the Bororos have entered our reserves; they want to violate our laws.
“I want to call on the attention of the Federal Government that they have come and wanted to kill men and kids and women in Ekiti.
“We will not allow that to happen. I want you all hunters to go back today to protect your people, be vigilant, open your eyes, make sure everyone entering our state is screened.
“No one in the guise of grazing should enter our land after 8p.m.
“For our brothers who harbour criminals, tell them Ekiti is a no-go area.
“If your plan is to make this state ungovernable, you are wasting your time.”
Violent Conflicts: Nigeria, Yemen Top List On Human Displacement – UN
Meanwhile, Yemen and Nigeria as estimated by relevant agencies of the United Nations (UN) in 2017 topped list of countries with highest number of human displacement as a result of violent conflicts.
This was even as influential women in Adamawa State cried out that “enough is enough of the killings in the land”.
While Yemen recorded 22 million of such victims, Nigeria had about 14.5 million out of the total 135 million victims recorded worldwide.
The UN statistics on consequences of violent conflicts were quoted on Wednesday in Abuja by Edger Amos, a public affairs analyst, at a one day UN facilitated strategic meeting with influential women from Adamawa State, a programme which centered on women engagement in peace and security in Northern Nigeria.
According to him, in helping the affected countries worldwide to resettle the displaced, a sum of $22.5 billion has already been set aside by the United Nations.
“The UN reports on violent conflicts across the world ranked Nigeria after Yemen as countries having highest number of displaced persons out of the total estimated figure of 135 million.
“While Yemen, according to the report has 22 million, Nigeria as at last year was reported to have 14.5 million displaced people in different locations mostly in the North.
“The international body has set aside $22.5 billion as financial aid for affected countries this year for the resettlement of the victims”, he said.
But he lamented that the planned assistance from UN may not bail Nigeria out of the problem if concerted efforts are not made by stakeholders in stopping all myriads of such violent conflicts in the country from Boko Haram insurgency to herdsmen/farmers clash, cattle rustlers’ attack, communal clashes etc.
All the UN representatives at the gathering like the programme manager (women, peace and security) Njeri Karuru, gender technical adviser for Adamawa State, Titus Orngu, etc concurred to Edger Amos submissions.
Clarion calls were made by virtually all women of note from the state like wife of the state governor, Mrs. Maryam Bindoh Jibrilla; Senator Binta Masi Garba, Mrs. Titi Atiku Abubakar, Senator Grace Bent, the Director General of National Institute of Legislative Studies ( NILS), Professor Ladi Hamalai etc. on government at all levels to put an end to the killings.
They also called for implementation of resolution 1325 of the UN, mandating member nations to involve women in peace and security matters at all levels.
They as well called for consideration and passage of equal opportunities bill by the state House of Assembly.
55 Feared Killed By Herdsmen In Taraba
Again, at least 55 people have been killed by Fulani herdsmen in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State.
It was gathered that the invasion and attacks began at the weekend.
Twenty-five bodies were recovered and given mass burial on Tuesday.
Policemen and soldiers are currently patrolling the area.
The police, however, said the place is calm now.
Benue Registers 80,000 IDPs
In the meantime, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) says it has registered about 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) after the recent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Emmanuel Shior, executive secretary of SEMA, disclosed this in an interview with NAN on Wednesday.
He said the displaced people are in four camps located in Guma and Logo local government areas, the councils where 73 people were killed by suspected herdsmen.
Shior said the IDPs were at the government approved camps at Daudu, Tse-Ginde, Gbajimba all in Guma and Ugba in Logo local councils.
“At the moment, what we have done is the manual registration of the displaced persons, not the biometrics; and we have registered about 80,000 IDPs across the four camps in the state,” he said.
“We are likely to open more camps depending on the situation because we have started receiving IDPs from Nasarawa State who were displaced also as a result of the same invaders.
“But Governor Samuel Ortom has already mobilised the agency to take both food and non-food materials to the camps and we are doing same.”