By Sam Eyoboka
CHAIRMAN of The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Benue State, Rev. Akpen Leva yesterday appealed to public spirited individuals in the country to rally round numerous persons displaced as a result of unabating incessant killings involving Fulani herdsmen and local farmers in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and other neighboring states, warning that except deliberate efforts are urgently put in place to disarm all armed militias in the state, the situation will get worse.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday, the state CAN chairman Leva, lamented the pathetic situation in the numberless refugee camps erroneously being labeled Internally Displaced Persons Camps across the state, stressing that ”despite efforts by the security officials deployed to the state, killings are still ongoing living every Benue resident in perpetual fear.”
The cleric who had earlier called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of leaders of Miyeti Allah, yesterday noted that even after leaders of the group openly issued several threats, none of their members have been arrested by security agents.
According to him, “Benue people were peacefully going about their noble duties of farming until last year when the anti-grazing law was enacted, the herdsmen started killing our people and they are still threatening us. We are still living in fear because the whole of Benue State is still under seige.
“Our people are still being killed in the villages and there is fear everywhere. Our people in Nasarawa State are being attacked and are returning en masses to Benue, and there are numerous IDP camps being opened in the state as I speak now. The atmosphere is tense as nobody knows what is going to happen next,” he said.
Continuing, the CAN chairman said though the Federal Government is talking of deploying more security personnel to the state, “yet people are being killed because the Police personnel that have been deployed are not helping matters at all. The attacks have been extended to our people in Masarawa State and those who managed to escape are daily migrating to Benue.
“As at yesterday, several of them were on the road, looking for transport to get to Benue to take refuge with their kith and kins in Benue,” Leva noted.
Asked to explain reasons behind the attacks, the CAN helmsman explained that the incessant attacks were both religious, political as well as economic, “it’s a deliberate plan to Islamize the state because when they kill people and the others run away, they take possession of their land and gain the economic power of the state.
“It’s no longer hidden. The herdsmen have issued the threat to attack and take over the land. So whatever is happening I look at it as a deliberate ploy to Islamize the state by military fiat,” he said.
Asked how much support they are getting to mitigate the suffering of the displaced persons in different parts of the state, he lamented that not much is coming apart from fellow state governors who are now visiting the state governor and making donations for the upkeep of the IDPs.