Thursday, 26 May 2016

Herdsmen Killed 984 People in Benue State, Nigeria

New Telegraph Newspaper reports that in the last two years, between 2014 and 2016, the series of attacks carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen on various communities in Benue State have claimed over 984 people. Also, 29,974 people have been displaced across the state, with properties worth over N40 billion lost to the attacks.

The Tiv people, under the aegis of Mdzough U Tiv (MUT), disclosed these yesterday during a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Police Affairs on killings by suspected herdsmen.

President-General of the MUT, Chief Edward Ujege, in company of the Secretary-General, Chief Azer Ukende, who said he was speaking for Tiv people all over the world by virtue of his office, accused the security agencies of neglecting their duties to secure Benue people.

Giving a breakdown of the killings, Ujege said in 2014, no fewer than 142 persons were killed in Guma Local Government Area of the state while 6,544 persons were displaced with properties worth over N128 million lost. In Logo Local Government Area, suspected herdsmen killed 54 people, 4,088 displaced and over N9 billion properties lost.

The figure was high in Makurdi, the state capital, as 484 were killed while 3,018 got displaced and over N31 billion lost in the attacks. Within the same period, 15 people were killed in Gwer East Local Government Area while 253 people were displaced with over N53 million lost. In the Gwer West Local Government Area, 168 were killed, 4,543 displaced and over N592 million worth properties lost while in Katsina-Ala, 20 people were killed, 1,679 displaced and over N4 billion lost. In Kwande, 3,199 persons were displaced and over N132 million properties lost.

Ujege further stated that in 2015 and 2016, about 28 people were killed in Buruku, 6,650 displaced and over N8 billion lost in properties in two wards of Binev and Mbaya. In four wards in Logo between 2015 and 2016, 58 people were killed while several people were displaced and property destroyed.

In Tarka, 15 people were killed and in Ukum, 101 were killed while 6,650 got displaced and over N8 billion lost. He lamented that the way and manner these people were killed was barbaric as some were slaughtered and others sprayed with chemical weapons, causing them to vomit and pass on slowly.

The President-General of the Tiv nation alleged that all these killings and mayhems were highly coordinated as the killers were often aided by security agents. Ujege specifically accused the police of not carrying out a single arrest of the herdsmen since these killings started.

He dismissed the reference to the attackers by police and other security agencies as “unidentified herdsmen”, saying “it is a cover up’, as the representatives of these acclaimed unidentified herdsmen were always meeting with the various authorities to absolve the herdsmen of alleged crimes.
He lamented that these incessant attacks have impoverished his people, as they no longer go to plant in their farms. Ujege said the Tiv people were now afraid to go back to farms seeing that the herdsmen have taken over their farmlands and were armed to the teeth, ready to kill them.

He said the current food and tomato shortages were connected to the activities of herdsmen, who have made farmers unable to return to farm. After the presentation by Ujege, the committee members were angry that the invited government functionaries and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association were not present to respond to the allegations levelled against them.

This is just as the absence of the Inspector- General of Police (IGP),Mr. Solomon Arase, the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS); Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau and the representatives of the Fulani herdsmen, Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, at the investigative hearing into incessant killings in Benue.

The chairman tried to explain why some of the herdsmen were absent but disagreements from members forced him to call for executive session, where they decided to adjourn the hearing to enable all the parties to appear.

“The IGP, DSS, Army and Minister of Interior must be here. If the relevant agencies fail or neglect to appear, we will be compelled to invoke sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, to do the needful,” Jika said.

He said that the hearing was very important because it bothered on the lives of citizens. “As a House, we will not be distracted from discharging our constitutional responsibilities”, Hon. Haliru Jika, chairman of the committee, said.