BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
Following the announcement of the Federal government to undertake the rehabilitation of communities destroyed by herdsmen in the country, the President of the Tiv Youths Organization, TYO, Comrade Timothy Hembaor has urged President Muhamnadu Buhari to give directive to the military to flush out herdsmen from Benue communities to allow the displaced persons return to their homes before embarking on the project.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard, Comrade Hembaor said, “the most important issue has to be addressed before the talk of rehabilitation. The herdsmen are still occupying some of our lands. They are still there. That’s why our people are still in IDPs camps. If President Buhari directs the military to get them out it will be done in a jiffy. We don’t know why this has not been done.
“The most important thing here is that we have a validly made law prohibiting open grazing in Benue state. It is left for the President to direct that the law should be fully enforced by law enforcement agencies so that there can be peace in Benue.
“If there is no peace, you can build mansions but they would eventually be destroyed by herdsmen. So let the President solve our problems before rebuilding our communities. What we need is ranching, if you want to do livestock business in Benue, obey our ranching law.
“If the President Buhari led government is sincere with what they are saying, they should give a strict instruction to security agencies to enforce our grazing law.
“When that is done, we can now sit back as comfortable people and start talking of how our destroyed communities can be rehabilitated and rebuilt so that these recurrent killings and destruction of our communities can stop for good.”
On his part, the Leader of Global Amnesty Watch Network, Terrence Kuanum, reechoed the position of the TYO President.
He insisted that the road to peace in Benue was a strict enforcement of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law and every other thing would fall into place.
“The Federal government can only embark on the rehabilitation of our communities after peace has been restored in the communities and to achieve that peace, the grazing law has to be enforced fully by law enforcement agencies.
“All we urgently need now is a directive from the President ordering the military to push out herdsmen from Benue communities which they have occupied since January.
“If that is done, and everyone align themselves to the law, there will be peace and after that rehabilitation can follow.
“If they fail to do that, but prefer to rehabilitate the destroyed communities, it therefore means that the communities would be rehabilitated for herdsmen who are the current illegal occupants of Benue communities.”
Speaking on the issue, the Chairman of Tribal Leaders in the state, Chief Edward Ujege, who lauded the decision of the federal government to rehabilitate the destroyed communities appealed to the government to do the needful before embarking on the rehabilitation.
“The federal government must support the Open Grazing Prohibition Law of Benue State which was derived from the people before embarking on any form of rehabilitation.
“The federal government should openly declare support for the law and ensure its enforcement by security agencies. It is after that is done that the communities can be rehabilitated.
“For now we all know that close to 180,000 persons are displaced in Benue because their villages have been taken over by herdsmen, so if they are not dislodged for the people to return to their ancestral homes, who will the federal government rehabilitate the communities for?
“Our position on this matter is clear, support our grazing law, give a presidential directive to the military and security agencies to dislodge the herdsmen from occupied Benue communities and then embark on the rehabilitation and our people will support the government and its initiative.”