It is shocking that Nigerians have apparently lost interest in the daily carnage that the people of Benue State are experiencing at the hands of herdsmen terrorists. It is a sign of an unhealthy nation that these killings can be going on without firm reactions from the Nigerian populace. Once the terrorists succeed in subduing the Benue people, they will extend their evil to other places.
They are already in most places in the Middle Belt and the three Southern geopolitical zones of the country, but it appears that Benue was chosen as the epicentre of their expansionist campaign. Two reasons can be adduced for this. One Prof. Umar Labdo of the North West University, NWU, Kano, had on January 18, 2018, outrageously claimed that Benue State belonged to the Fulani by conquest. Secondly, after the state passed the anti-open grazing law in November 2017, Miyetti Allah, the umbrella organisation of cattle breeders, swore to continue the bloodletting till the law was revoked.
On January 1, 2018, seventy-two people were gruesomely massacred. To draw the world’s attention to their plight, the government and people of Benue State televised the mass burial of the victims, an act that drew the displeasure of the Muhammadu Buhari government.
As the killings continued the Daudu and Ukpiam Internally-Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps were established outside Makurdi. Benue indigenes in the Diaspora petitioned the House of Representatives on their plight and the killings, but the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, refused to entertain it because according to him, the petitioners were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission!
Since then, even Governor Samuel Ortom’s hometown in Guma LGA has been severally attacked, his farm destroyed, while he narrowly escaped assassination in May this year.
On April 25, 2021, 17 people were murdered at Yogbo-Mbayev in Guma LGA. The killers struck again on May 28, 2021, killing 36 people at Katsina-Ala. The Police called it “fake news” but the photos of the bodies were displayed on Twitter by stakeholders to debunk the police claim. Also on June 3, 2021, 300 people were massacred in three villages in Ado LGA. Premium Times reported over 200 killed in May alone in Benue.
What has happened to the military’s Operation Ayem Akpatuma? How committed is the Federal Government in protecting Benue people and other indigenous Nigerians from these terrorists? When will Nigerians stop tolerating these killings and “conquests”? When will the “herdsmen” be officially declared as terrorists which the world already knows them for?
We are dealing with massacres, ethnic cleansing, genocide and occupation of people’s lands by terrorists masquerading as “herdsmen”. Benue people have the right under the Constitution for protection by the Federal Government. These killings are unacceptable.
Benue people’s lives matter.