Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom called on the United Nations, UN, at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Abuja during a presentation on the continuous killing of Benue people by rampaging herdsmen, to intervene in the human crisis resulting from the genocide perpetrated by armed herdsmen in the state.
Governor Ortom informed the gathering that as an administration, which believes in the rule of law and peaceful coexistence, series of meetings for dialogue were organised by the Benue State Government to find a solution to the crisis without much success leading to the promulgation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law.
He argued that due process was followed in the making of the law, saying in addition to conducting public hearings, which involved all the stakeholders in the three Senatorial districts of the state and Makurdi, a grace period of six months was allowed for people involved in livestock business to make adjustments.
After the Governor’s opening address, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Dennis Ityavyar made a presentation which had details on the attacks, including the number of people killed and property destroyed between 2011 and this year. He urged the United Nations to assist Benue State to overcome the challenge.
The United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon expressed deep worry that the conflict between herdsmen and farmers if not checked would mar the peaceful conduct of the 2019 general election.
Mr. Kallon stated that already 19 out of the 36 states of the federation were engulfed in the crisis which he said was being driven by climate change, growing scarcity of resources and insufficient political reforms.
He decried the level of attacks and killing of innocent people by armed men, maintaining that he was personally involved in the roadmap to peace and had been calling on Government all levels to find a lasting solution to the conflicts in order to stop the killings.
Mr. Kallon stated that he was represented in Benue at the mass burial of the seventy people killed by suspected Fulani militia in January where he called on the Federal Government to take firm action in investigating the attacks, bringing the perpetrators to justice and also paying compensation to victims in line with International Human Rights obligations.