By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, vowed, yesterday, that no hoodlum or group of people will overrun the country or illegally occupy any part of it under his watch as the chief police officer.
Arase made this vow while answering questions from lawmakers at a public hearing on the “influx of herdsmen to Benue State and the clashes among Tiv, Agatu communities and Fulani herdsmen” put together by the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs.
He further explained that the force prioritised the protection of lives and properties of Nigerian communities, adding that “every life lost diminishes humanity as a whole.”
Arase said: “I have taken an oath to effectively police and protect every security space in Nigeria and I will continue to do that within the ambit of the law and to the best of my ability and that of my officers and men. And I make bold to say that the Nigerian state cannot be overrun by hoodlums; I can assure you.”
Earlier, the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Mr. Benson Abonu, told the committee: “There appears to be a systematic move to annihilate the people of Benue State to establish a kingdom or some kind of rulership.
“It has taken a national dimension. They want to weaken Benue, and then cross over to other parts of the country. Right now, they have their presence in Kogi, they have attacked Ekiti, Oyo and still counting. We have made this known to the Army and other security agencies.”
In their presentation earlier on Wednesday, the Tiv communities, led by President General, Mr. Edward Ujege, recommended that N100 billion compensation be paid to assuage the loss of lives and properties as well as total eviction of herdsmen.
On the way forward, the Tiv communities said: “Ranching, as the only way out of this crises, should be established and run by individuals.
“They are not government’s cattle and so government has no business providing ranches. The establishment of ranches should be done up-north, where there are vast expanse of land.”
Herdsmen shun hearing
However, the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association, again stayed away from the public hearing, despite receiving invitation, thrice, to appear at the hearing from the committee chairman, Haliru Jika.
The Department of State Services, DSS, told the committee it would make its written presentation in camera, as information at its disposal were sensitive.
“We have put in place strategic initiatives. The President gave a directive that I go in there and see how I can restore nomalcy and bring back peace in Benue state. I had a town hall meeting with stakeholders in Benue, where each of the parties presented their positions verbally and in writing.
“It was a very protracted argument. But before leaving, I was able to come up with some strategies as to how to mitigate this crisis, which I presented to the governments of Benue and Nasarawa states.”
Tiv youths also made their presentation, saying “there was never a clash. They were calculated and well planned attacks aimed at occupation our land. There is an established vision on the pattern of attacks, which occurred on mostly coastal communities along the River Benue and River Buruku.”