By Chief Edward Ujege, President General, Mdzough U Tiv; Bar. Amali Adoya Amali, President, Idoma National Forum; and Chief Ode Enyi, President General, Omi Ny’Igede.
We, the people of Benue State hereby represented by the Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’Igede, the principal umbrella socio-cultural organizations of the Tiv, Idoma and Igede nations wish to inform the whole world of the callous and barbaric unprovoked attack resulting into possible genocide and destruction of lives and properties of the Benue people by Fulani herdsmen which incidence commenced on the 1st of January, 2018.
We are constraint to remind the world that we had raised an alarm in the year 2017 as follows
i) There was an alleged armed Fulani militia build-up and convergence at the Nigeria-Cameroon border and at the Agatu border with Nasarawa State to the North West of Benue State.
ii). It was reliably gathered that leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore has held clandestine meetings in Nigeria and abroad to visit mayhem and genocide on the people of Benue State. The plot was said to be multi-directional and aimed to simultaneously invade and attack Benue from every angle so that there would be no escape for our defenseless people.
iii) In a letter to the Inspector General of Police dated 30th May 2017, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore openly declared and I quote “We will mobilize our people to resist… this legislation.” This was again reinforced at a World Press Conference, held in Abuja shortly after, by the President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodojo and Secretary, Saleh Alhassan who both declared that their association would deploy every means and mobilize their people to resist the implementation of the anti-open grazing law. They have already demonstrated their resistance to the law by suing the Benue State Government as well as the National Assembly and other agencies or offices of the Federal and State governments at an Abuja Federal High Court in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/527/2017.
iv) The leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in another press conference held in Abuja on the 23rd October 2017 as reported by the Leadership Newspaper of 24th October 2017 further directed its members to commence their convergence on Benue land in order to resist the anti open grazing law. We are reliably informed that already there is a mass gathering of cattle and militia men at Kungwa in Awe Local Government area of Nasarawa State.
3. Our three main socio- cultural organizations and indeed the entire people of Benue State were deeply troubled because of our nasty experience especially the avalanche of attacks on our people and the fact that the Fulani herdsmen already tagged as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the World by global terrorist index as published in the Vanguard Newspaper of first June 2017 have the capacity, capability and means to carry out the threat.
4. In more than five years, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore sponsored herdsmen have carried about forty major and deadly attacks in fourteen of the twenty three local government areas of Benue State. We had paid dearly for the atrocities of the herdsmen with over two thousand lives of our men, women and children. Till date, over 500 persons are still missing while over half a million people were displaced and the future of almost a million youths truncated. Similarly, over nine hundred households were affected in the various attacks carried out by the herdsmen while properties worth over 95 billion naira were destroyed in 2014 alone. Yet, not a single person had been arrested or prosecuted for these dastardly acts.
5. All these actions of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and their marauding herdsmen are targeted at truncating the implementation of the anti open grazing law which is already in force in Benue State. However, this law is a creation of the people of Benue State who desire peace and not the creation of any group or individual, not even the Governor of Benue State. We also know that the law is not targeted at any particular persons, group, tribe or even the Fulani but a win-win situation for both farmers and livestock rearers. It is not meant for cattle alone but covers all types of livestock.
6. The three socio-cultural organization undertook a wide ranging advocacy to draw attention through out October and November 2017 in order to avert the threat and planned genocide against our people by the Fulani herdsmen. In the process, we contacted the President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces, Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari through an open letter published in the Vanguard newspaper of vanguard newspaper of 10th November, 2017. We petitioned the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. We also informed the Minister of Interior, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector General of Police, Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Afeninere, Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Emir of Lafia and Chairmen of Governors forum of the North, East and South East as well as Governors of all neighboring states with Benue.
7. We, the three socio-cultural organisations are disappointed that despite our advocacy and pleas, there were no actions from any quarters. The President, Mohammadu Buhari especially turned a deaf ear to our predicament.
8. We now wish to inform you that the mayhem is being visited on our people and state as threatened by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. On the 24th of December 2017, as early as 5 a.m., herdsmen entered Odonto hamlet in Adim-Akpa in Otukpo Local Government area and shot sporadically during which three people were killed-two male, one female and several others had gun shot injuries. Also on the same date, three persons were killed in Utonkon area of Ado local Government area. On the first of January, 2018, at about 10 a.m. Fulani herdsmen attacked church goers in Gaambe-Tiev, Ayilamo and Turan in Logo Local Government area. On the same day, Umenger, Tse Akor and Tomatar near Tse Abi in Nongov district, all in Guma Local Government were also attacked. Over 50 people were killed including women and children and over two hundred injured.
9. Benue State are not ready to accept the condolence message sent to Governor Ortom and the people of the State by President Buhari because it is not from the bottom of the President’s heart. We believe that the Government is playing to the gallery. There is no safe guard and guarantee that these incidences will not occur again. This is how the crises in the north east begun and nothing was done until it degenerated into full scale war.
10. The blood of those killed is on the heads of those running the Federal Government.
11. We are calling on all political parties especially the All Progressive Congress, APC, which is running the Federal Government, to stand up against the planned genocide in Benue State. We are calling on all tribal associations to stand up to be counted on the side of Benue people in this trying times and where possible provide relief to the internally displaced people who are amassing in the small villages that are yet to be attacked.
12. We, the people of Benue, wish to remind the President that we voted massively for this government to protect us and provide conducive atmosphere for development but the reverse is now the case. We also want to remind the President that he swore an oath to defend all citizens of Nigeria but had failed woefully in the discharge of this responsibility in Benue State.