*We lost 984 persons, 29,974 displaced — TIV COMMUNITY
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE absence of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase; Minister of Interior, Abdulraman Dambazau; representatives of the Department of State Services, DSS; the Army and the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, yesterday stalled public hearing on the recent killing of over 984 persons and displacement of about 29,974 from 11 communities in Benue State.
It was only the representative of the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, out of all the security agencies invited to the public hearing by the House of Representatives on the alarming violent activities of herdsmen in Benue State and its consequences on the security of the nation that appeared at the public hearing.
This came as the Tiv Community claimed that over 984 of its indigenes had been confirmed killed by Fulani herdsmen, and 29,974 persons displaced in about 10 local government areas of the state as well as about N40 billion worth of property lost in the past three years as a result of the attacks.
But the absence of the major stakeholders in the public hearing at the Halliru Dauda Jika-led Committee, especially the security agencies made the committee to adjourn after hearing from the Tiv groups that attended the public hearing.
Consequently, the Committee re-invited the IGP, the Minister of Interior and the herdsmen association to appear today (Thursday) for the continuation of the investigation and threatened to invoke all necessary laws and sanctions if the IGP, the minister and other invited stakeholders failed to appear.
The Chairman of the Committee said the House would be left with no option than to invoke sections 88 and 89 of the constitution if the IGP, the Minister and heads of other relevant agencies failed to appear before 24 hours.
The Chief Whip of the House who represented the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, had frowned at what he described as the unserious attitude of some members of the executive treating the legislature with levity.
In his presentation, President of Mdzough U Tiv, a socio-cultural organization of the Tiv people Chief Edward Ujege, said series of recent attacks on Agatu and other communities in Benue were well designed, planned and coordinated.
Ujege, who recommended ranching of cattle as the best option to forestall clashes between herdsmen and farmers, said moves to establish grazing reserves was intended to take over Benue communities by the herdsmen.
He said, “Each individual should obtain land in his or her community and establish his own ranch there so as to avoid land grabbing and its attendant problem. Invasion and occupation cannot be alternative mode of land acquisition in Nigeria; there are clearly defined processes of land acquisition both legally and customarily. Therefore, invaders should be flushed out of our land. It is the responsibility of the federal government to enshrine in the constitution to protect indigenous populations from internal and external aggressions.”