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Twin protest over Herdsmen attacks shut down NASS

…In Benue state, over 500 people died, 30, 000 displaced as group insists there is no land for grazing in the state
…In Nasarawa, Helicopter supplies arms to attackers, over 200 killed, 500 injured, rapped and kidnapped

By Joseph Undu

The renewed Fulani Herdsmen attacks on several Benue communities have resulted to the death of over 500 people, 30,000 displaced persons and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.

According to a letter submitted to the leadership of the National Assembly by Vanguard against Tiv Massacre (VATIM), during their peaceful demonstration at NASS Abuja, Thursday, the group called on lawmakers to take urgent steps against the massacre.

Vanguard gathered that, thousands of protesters took part in the protest. The protest kicked off from Unity Fountain, Maitama through the Federal Secretariat before it climaxed at NASS.

Protesters were carrying different placards with inscriptions such as, “stop the killings in Benue”, “food basket not bloodbath state”, “we want end to farmers killing among others”.

The letter which was titled, “Stop the Killings in Benue by Herdsmen and their Hired Machineries” reads in part.

“We observed with dismay and great disappointment the continual failure of security agencies to prevent attacks by armed herdsmen which have led to loss of lives, livelihoods and property in Benue State.

“These attacks have been incessant, predictable, and preventable. In the last two weeks, the following villages have been attacked by herdsmen, Mkovur, Ortese all in Gboko LGA. We have also Jingir, Agwabi, Gbanyam and Tyogbenda in Buruku LGA and Gbodi, Nzaav, Mbaav and Anyase in Kwand LGA. In all cases, however, security agencies have been lackadaisical and slow to respond.

“The recent crisis has so far resulted in over 500 reported cases of deaths in several communities in Buruku, Kwande, Agatu, Gwerwest, Guma and Gboko the worst hit been Buruku and Kwande LG areas with 30,000 persons displaced and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed. The displaced have been left with no other options than to take refuge in primary schools, market places and other open-air spaces in the neighbouring towns.

“The numbers of deaths and displaced persons have continued to rise daily as the attacks on villages have continued unchecked. Despite the conspicuous nature of these attacks, no one person has been apprehended by the security agencies. In the last five years, no single person has been investigated or prosecuted for the attacks and killings carried out by the herdsmen in the affected communities even where some persons have come out to claim responsibility for such attacks.

“This inaction by the government with regards to the attempted genocide on Tiv, Idoma and other ethnic groups living in Benue directly contravenes the primary responsibility of the government which is to protect lives and property of its citizens.”

The group thereby called on government and all other concerned stakeholders to “Take speedy action to prevent further loss of lives and property in the state” as it also urged the government to provide urgent humanitarian relief to the victims of the attacks, carried out investigation and prosecution of the culprits, provide appropriate security to the communities, compensate farmers and other displaced people for their losses and most importantly, enact and implement appropriate legislation to curb the menace of the herdsmen.

Tiv people would take steps to defend themselves-Utoo
Speaking on behalf of the group, the spokesman, Barrister Franc Utoo while addressing journalists at the NASS gate said the protest was to draw the attention of government and other relevant stakeholders to liaise with security agents to stem bloodshed in Benue.

Utoo who regretted the killing said it is unbecoming as the lawmakers are yet to come up with a position that would bring reprieve to Benue warning that, if urgent steps are not taken to stop these wanton killings of innocent indigenes of the state, Tiv people would take steps to defend themselves adding that, there is no land for grazing in Benue state.”

In Nasarawa, Helicopter supplies arms to attackers, over 200 killed, 500 injured, rapped and kidnapped
In a related development, another group from Nasarawa state under the umbrella of Ajiri Afo National Youth Development Association in their letter to NASS during their peaceful protest Thursday over the incessant killings, kidnapping and rapping of their women by suspected Fulani herdsmen said they are dying as a result of the destruction of their economic activity by herdsmen in the last five years.

The letter signed by the president of the group, Engr. Aminu Suleman and titled, “Incessant Attack of Fulani Herdsmen and Kidnapping of Ajiri Afo Farmers and Villages of Nasarawa LGA, Kokona, LGA, Agwada, Udege and Loko Development Area” reads; “We are in pain and distressed, we are dying as a result of this destruction to our economic activity in our lands. Most of our farms and villages are now deserted due to insecurity.

“The herdsmen with their cattle would forcefully invade a farm land eating up and destroying it. Any form of protest by farmer result to attacks. These attacks have left more than 200 dead and 500 with several matches wound, while most of the surviving victims are suffering from emotional stress.”

According to the letter, “Herdsmen have attacked the following communities in the state namely, Udeni Magaji, Ogeni, Oshugu, Odeni Gida, Odu, Oseni, Ogufa, Ogapa, Gwende, Ajaga”

They called on federal government to investigate the ungodly activities of the herdsmen especially in Kokona LG where they alleged to have seen the attackers being supplied with arms and ammunition and other logistics on top of a mountain in one of the communities.

“We want government to also ensure the security of the affected communities against further attacks.

NASS to provide lasting solution to herdsmen massacre-Sen. Saraki
Addressing the protesters, Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP Rivers) who represented the senate president Senator Bukola Saraki said the killing of farmers by Fulani herdsmen was a worrisome issue which must be addressed with all sense of seriousness.

He said “The Senate had received three bills in respect of the menace and was doing it best to ensure that herdsmen are provided with a reserve area that would be meant for grazing.

“The senate pledged the commitment of the both chambers of National Assembly to work relentlessly in providing a lasting solution to the massacre, not only in Benue but the entire country.”


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