Elders from the three main socio-cultural organizations in Benue state, on Thursday, cautioned president Muhammadu Buhari and his service chiefs against making inflammatory remarks that are capable of causing further killings in the state.
Apparently irked by the failure of the federal government to put a stop to the killings, the elders from Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’ Igede, said that going by the current security challenges in the state, words that promote peace and unity between farmers and herdsmen rather than violence were needed.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on the recent killing of about 26 people of Benue in Okpokwu Local Government by armed Fulani herdsmen, they said the body language and utterances of government officials and their utterances have not convinced the people of Benue of the federal government’s willingness to protect and defend them in line with their constitutional roles.
Barr Amali Adoya Amali, who spoke on behalf of the elders, accused President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, of making unguarded statements that could fuel violence in the state.
He expressed disappointment over the federal government’s failure to create a conducive environment for dialogue between aggrieved parties in the state take place.
Amali said the people of the state would resist any move to impose a state of emergency in Benue over the continued killings in the state.
He further said that the on-going Exercise Cat Race (Ayem Akpatuma) was a deceptive strategy by the Federal government to aid the invasion of Benue state by herdsmen.
He called on the well-meaning Nigerians, other socio-cultural organizations in the country as well as the international community to rise in solidarity to defend the people of Benue state and also pressurize the federal government and her law enforcement agencies to respect the state’s anti-open grazing law.
His words: “The President himself had said that more people have been killed in Taraba than Benue and Zamfara states put together. Such a statement may be misconstrued to mean that there should be more killings in Benue state.
“The Inspector-General of Police stated that government should establish free ranches with all infrastructures is an invitation to anarchy and further killings. The IGP acts autocratically and assumes the role of the judiciary, legislature and executive.
“We are disappointed by the IGP’s call on vigilante to surrender arms without mentioning the armed Fulani herdsmen. The reluctance of the Federal government security agencies to arrest perpetrators, especially Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, even when they admitted responsibility for the cruel killings in Benue.
“We want to say that the plan to declare a state of emergency in Benue is satanic and we, the people of the state would resist it because it is a needless punishment on them for standing up for their rights.
“A state of emergency in Benue over the killings in the state is a fight against the people for exercising and defending their rights to make laws for peace and good governance of the state as entrenched in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. We will not accept that.
“We expect that the Army ‘Exercise Ayem Akpatuma’ will assist the over 160,000 IDPs to move back to their homes by restoring peace and order, this has not been done, instead armed Fulani herders have continued to occupy such homes.
“We also expected the army to inspire confidence in Benue people rather than fuelling their fears that they have come to assist the Fulani herders to continue killing, occupying Benueland and homes and a further influx of a large number of Fulani and cattle,” he said.