By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Benue State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday, lodged a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, over alleged killings and wanton destruction of property in the state by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
While submitting a copy of the petition to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, the CAN delegation, led by its Chairman in Benue State, Rev. Augustine Akpen Leva, expressed dismay at what it described as “failure of government to curb the incessant, unwarranted killings and wanton destruction of property” in various parts of the state, allegedly perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
Rev Leva told the Commission that “these mindless killings and invasion of the land reached its climax from 2013 and is advancing with sporadic and regular attacks here and there”.
He said: “The worst affected Local Government Areas so far are: Agatu, Markurdi (Adaka, Adeke, Adem, Upahar, Tse-Kwaghbo, Apir and Mbalagah communities. Others are Gwer-West, Logo, Katsina-Ala, Kwande and Guma (Tse-Oragbo and Tse-Anundu) and Tarka Buruku”.
CAN demanded adequate compensation from Federal and State governments to assuage the feelings of the people who it said have been traumatized and dehumanized following the series of attacks unleashed on them from time to time by marauding herdsmen.
Besides, the association told the Commission that the herdsmen were equipped with sophisticated weapons, saying “It is an ocular fact that the continued attacks, which are evidently encouraged by the indecision of Government, are clearly jihadist attempts, calculated at forcefully Islamizing and subjugating the people of Benue state”.
Meantime, while receiving the complaint in Abuja yesterday, the NHRC boss, Prof. Angwe said the commission would carry out an impartial investigation into the matter and also ensure that justice prevailed.
“It is sad that these killings and destruction of property have continued over time and a lot of people have lost their lives as a result of these numerous attacks”, Angwe noted.
He called on the Federal and State governments to take proactive steps with a view to ensuring that the affected families were properly settled “to avert hunger as the farmers whose produce feed the nation, no longer go to their farms for fear of attacks”.
“The Commission condemns in very strong terms the attacks that are today going on between pastoralists and farmers. The act concerns the entire human community hence we have commenced proactive steps within our mandate to protect the rights of Nigerians and other nationals living in Nigeria”, Angwe added.
He maintained that all hands should be on deck to curb the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen, saying it would be disastrous for the nation which is still grappling with security and economic challenges, to also cope with the issue of hunger.