By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Benue Youth Forum, BYF, and the Benue Vigilante group also known as Community Volunteer Guard, have warned that the Federal Government would jeopardize the unity of Nigeria with its push for the National Water Resources Bill and it’s open silence on the disputed Miyetti Allah Vigilante group.
They insisted that “Ruga, cattle colonies, grazing reserves and the Water Resources Bill are fingers of the same evil hand” and urged Nigerians to resist any move to forcefully take over their land in whatever guise.
Addressing the media yesterday in Makurdi the National President of BYF, Comrade Terrence Kuanum called on the National Assembly to reject the controversial Water Resources Bill and save its name from descent into disrepute.
While taking a swipe at the Middle Belt Conscience Group, MBCG, for its alleged uncharitable comments on Governor Samuel Ortom’s stance against the Water Resources Bill, Comrade Kuanum observed that the outing of the group was intended to divert attention from the contentious issue.
Part of the text of his speech read, “we read media reports credited to a group which calls itself Middle Belt Conscience Group (MBCG), challenging Governor Samuel Ortom for speaking against the obnoxious National Water Resources Bill.
“Nigerians should not be surprised to see more faceless groups come up with such attacks and increased sponsored smear campaigns against Governor Ortom.
“This is a well coordinated plan by enemies of peace who are aided by political opponents within and outside the state to put the Governor in bad light, simply because he has refused to trade the interest of his people.
“A group which bears the moniker, ‘Conscience’ yet embarks on such a despicable mission against national interest ought to be thoroughly disturbed by its own conscience.
“For youths who claim to be from Middle Belt, the agenda by those bent on taking over the land in the region for cows should be a real cause of worry.
“The dogged and selfless stand of Governor Ortom and a few other patriots ought to be celebrated. Any youth group which sacrifices the interest of the region on the altar of politics and peanuts is worse than killer herdsmen.
“Ruga, cattle colonies, grazing reserves and now Water Resources Bill are fingers of the same evil hand that wants to deny the people of Middle Belt, particularly those within the Benue Valley of their ancestral lands and turn same for the creation of a Cow Republic.
“It is on record that Governor Ortom raised a patriotic objection to the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill to the 9th National Assembly on two grounds that It has contravened the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and it has also subverted provisions of the Land Use Act.
“Expectedly, the said group MBCG, which was not heard of until Tuesday, lst September, 2020, ostensibly assembled to advance the evil agenda of enemies of this country who are brains behind the Water Resources bill, failed to address any of the issues raised by Governor Ortom.
“In their poorly scripted statement, the group could not counter the Governor on just one of the issues he raised as contained in the water bill.
“The desperate youth group instead chose to descend to the shameful abyss of personal attacks on the Governor to the extent of linking his lineage to Fulani.
“Their claim that Governor Ortom has chased Fulani herdsmen away from Benue to promote his own cattle business is one of the most senseless absurdities in recent times.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. The press outing by the group was intended to divert attention from the issue at stake. The National Water Resources Bill is a well orchestrated plot to turn Nigerians to slaves in their own country.
“We are convinced that the Federal Government is putting the unity of Nigeria in jeopardy if it continues to push this Ruga settlements project either expressly or implicitly. Nigerians have vowed never to surrender their lands for Ruga in whatever veil it is introduced. We advise that the Buhari administration should allow the people to have their way.
“We therefore call on the National Assembly to reject the controversial Water Resources Bill and save the name of the hallowed red and green chambers from descent into disrepute.
“Indications are already rife that passage of the obnoxious bill will be greeted by spontaneous negative reactions from across the country.
“We expect the National Assembly to throw out the Water Resources bill when it resumes sitting in the interest of majority of Nigerians. We expect Senators and House of Representatives members who have good conscience to stage a walk-out from any sitting that favours passage of the Water Resources bill.
“They owe generations of Nigerians including those yet unborn this singular duty. We also call on all Nigerians to courageously rise in resistance to the devilish land grabbing bill intended to convert water and river banks for the use of Fulani cows. The National Water Resources bill must not be passed.”
Meanwhile the Benue Vigilante Group through its Deputy Commandant, Mr. Christopher Okpe in a press briefing also throw their weight behind the call by Benue people and Governor Ortom on the National Assembly to discard the National Water Bill vowing also that his group would resist the establishment of a Miyetti Allah vigilante group in the state.
Mr. Okpe urged the proponents of the Miyetti Allah vigilante to stay away from Benue state in their own interest.
Part of the text read, “the state community Volunteer Guard (vigilante) wishes to state clearly that we are completely behind Governor Samuel Ortom in challenging Miyetti Allah leadership and members that we will resist any attempt at them trying to form their own vigilante group in Benue State as speculated in some quarters.
“Our group which is legitimate and operate across the state will not hesitate to effect the arrest of any miscreant that will be masquerading as Miyetti Allah Vigilante within our borders and hand them over to conventional security agencies.
“So Miyetti Allah Vigilante Group under whatsoever guise cannot and will never be allowed an inch of space within and around the Benue Community.
“Should they insist, we shall work with the conventional security agencies to flush them out of Benue State.
“Hence we are calling on all well meaning Nigerians and the international community to also raise a voice against this barbaric and evil plan that is aimed at nothing but land grabbing.
“We also wish to put on record that our group which operates at the state, local and ward levels has not been found wanting, therefore our concern and worries should be taken as a timely warning to all men and women of goodwill irrespective of political and religious affiliations.
“The Benue State Community Vigilante once again hereby state our unresolved commitment to the people and government of Benue state to continue to operate within the ambit of laws that brought us into existence.”