Three socio-cultural organisations representing the people of Benue State, have appealed for international help to end the spate of killings of farmers by killer herdsmen.
The groups namely: Mdzough U Tiv, the Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’ Igede made the appeal at a joint press conference in Abuja, on Thursday.
They drew the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the latest killing of 26 people in the Okpoku Local Government Area by armed Fulani herdsmen on March 5, 2018.
Addressing the press on behalf of the three groups, the President-General of the Idoma National Forum, Amali Adoya Amali, said the appeal for international help became imperative following a series of distressing comments by officials of the Federal Government about the wanton killings in the state.
He said, “We regret to say that the Federal Government that is responsible for the safety and security of Nigerians, by the body language of government’s officials and their utterances, have not convinced us of their willingness to protect and defend the people of Benue State in line with their constitutional role.
“For the President himself to have said more people have been killed in Taraba than Benue and Zamfara states put together may be misconstrued to mean that there should be more killings in Benue State.
“The statement by the Inspector-General of Police that the government should establish free ranches and provide infrastructure (required to run them) is an invitation to anarchy and further killings.
“The Inspector-General of Police acts autocratically and assumes the roles of the judiciary, legislature and executive.”
He expressed disappointment that no enabling environment had been created for dialogue. The groups also said they were equally disappointed by the call by the IG on vigilance groups to surrender their arms without a mention of the armed Fulani militia.
Amali said the people of the state had expected that the military operation code-named Exercise Cat Race would restore peace and order and assist the over 160,000 internally displaced people of the state to return to their ancestral homes but that this hope had so far not yielded the desired results.
He said, “Instead, armed Fulani herders have continued to occupy such homes. We also expected the army to inspire the confidence of Benue people rather than fuelling their fears that they have come to assist the Fulani herders to continue killing and occupying Benue land and homes.”
Also speaking at the event, the President-General of the Mdzough U Tiv, Edward Ujege, said what the people of Benue “desire and deserve is to live in their ancestral homes and pursue our legitimate income generating businesses without fear.”
This, he said, was not too much to ask.
Speaking in a similar vein, the President-General of the Omi Ny’ Igede, Chief Ode Enyi, appealed to all to save the Benue people from extinction.