Buhari Arrives Benue, Meets Stakeholders

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Makurdi, the Benue State capital, to meet with the state Governor Samuel Ortom and other stakeholders.

President Buhari arrived the airport at Makurdi, the state capital at exactly 10:43 a.m. on Monday morning.

The president is scheduled to meet with leaders and stakeholders in the state at the Government House.

This is President Buhari’s first visit to the state since the New Year killings which claimed the lives of over 70 people.

He was earlier scheduled to visit the Tor-Tiv, Professor James Ayatse and also visit the Exercise Cat Race Camp including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps in Gbajimba, Guma LGA headquarters.

The President had last week visited Taraba State, one of the states troubled with the herdsmen-farmers crisis which has left scores dead and displaced hundreds.

While he commiserated with the people over the killings, he described the attacks and bloodshed as unfortunate.

President Buhari, therefore, assured Nigerians and victims of the attacks that justice will be served. He, however, noted that a collective effort is required to maintain peace and security.

Apart from Taraba and Benue, he is also expected to visit Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers states where cases of terror attacks and clashes have been recorded.

Death Toll For Benue Herdsmen Attack Rises To 24

Twenty four persons, mostly women and children, were, on Monday, killed in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

The council chairman, Olofu Ogwuche, stated this while conducting state governor, Samuel Ortom, round the affected community on Tuesday.

The governor and members of state security council had visited Omusu Edimoga for an on-the-spot assessment.

Ogwuche said the herdsmen had reported to the council the loss of their cows some kilometers from the affected village.

Ogwuche said he was already mediating in the crisis when report got to him that the herdsmen had invaded the village and killed some people.

The herdsmen were said to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm on Monday, allegedly killing some children who were returning from school.

In a particular building of two rooms, eight persons were said to have been murdered during the attack.

The body of an 11-year-old girl in her school uniform was discovered by the police when the governor visited the area.

Ogwuche said, “It was on Monday that Police came to inform me that herdsmen reported that people of Omusu Edimoga village had rustled their cows.

“When I heard this, I started mediating over the issue, during which I received information that herdsmen had invaded the community.

“Immediately I got the report, I rushed down, and with the help of the Police, we were able to recover 17 corpses and took them to the mortuary at the General Hospital in Okpoga.

“This morning (Tuesday), when we came here, we recovered the body of six persons and they have also been taken to the mortuary.

“But as we were moving around, the corpse of an 11-year-old girl was also recovered.

“So, in all, 24 persons had died, and some are still missing.”

At St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Okpoga, it was a pathetic sight. A five-year-old boy, identified as Loko, was shot on the buttocks; while he was also said to have lost his mother in the attack. He cried uncontrollably.

Governor Ortom condemned the attack, and accused Fulani of “always taking the law into their own hands.”

‘They reported the case of rustling, but instead of waiting for the outcome of Police investigation, they came and killed 24 people in a day. It is senseless.

“People in Omusu Edimoga community do not understand cow language; so, no one here rustles their cow, it is the same Fulani men that are rustling their fellows’ cows.

“We can not continue with these senseless killings; that is why we came out with the law which is aimed to protect everyone.

“When Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State, no one violated the law. Let security men do their job and arrest the people. ”

The governor, however, called on the people not to take law into their hands.

Earlier, Benue State Command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, had claimed that 16 persons were killed.

He said the herdsmen were on a reprisal attack allegedly to protest the “maiming and theft” of their cows by the people of Omusu.

The herdsmen were also said to have claimed that two herdsmen had gone missing and that one of them was found dead.

UNILORIN VC Cries Out Over Herdsmen Attack

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, has cried out over the actions of herdsmen on the school, accusing them of poisoning the university’s dam with chemicals.

While handling the notice at a special security meeting held at the institution last Thursday with leaders of the 11 Fulani settlements on the university land also said the herdsmen were destroying the multi-million naira research and training farms by making their cattle to illegally graze on the campus. The university therefore gave the herdsmen notice to quit its campus.

However, Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Usman Adamu, told the university management that the herdsmen destroying the institution’s farm land were not living in the community. According to him, there are other ethnic groups embarking on illegal activities like logging and are not differentiated from the Fulani. At the meeting, Abdulkareem told the Fulani settlers that “enough is enough”, stressing that the university could no longer condone the destructive activities of their grazing cattle on its land, “as this is becoming too costly for the institution to bear”.

He said: “We have a multi-million naira programme that is currently at stake now because they (herders) have gone to the extent of uprooting tubers of cassava for their cattle to feed on. We cannot conduct any research or training on the farm again because each time we get to a point where their cattle can feed on it, they go back there and destroy it. “We care about them but we cannot afford to keep them on our land again. If they want to continue to be our friends, they can live anywhere around us but they should realise that this is a sacred place. Again, even where there are wars, people leave the university alone. “We are now facing a lot of financial problems and yet they are compounding the problems for us.

The teak plantation, several times they have set it on fire and there are millions of naira invested in that place.” At the meeting, which was attended by law enforcement agencies such as the police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdulkareem disclosed that the university management would no longer tolerate illegal grazing of cows on its land. He, therefore, told the illegal settlers, who have started building permanent structures to vacate the university land in the interest of peace.

The order came almost a year after the university first issued a quit notice to the illegal settlers. On April 26, 2017 the university had handed down a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani herdsmen encroaching on its land to quit the campus, but it was never complied with. Also on May 11, 2017, 28 persons – Fulani herdsmen, Yoruba and Hausa farmers – were dragged to an Ilorin Chief Magistrates’ Court for allegedly trespassing on the university land, destroying its plantation and perpetrating other unauthorised activities on the university campus.

The accused were alleged to have resorted to poisoning the institution’s dam with chemicals, while also engaging in illegal felling of economic trees from which they made charcoal. The VC explained that the objective of the meeting was to marshal out plans to agree on a specific time frame for the herdsmen and other illegal settlers to vacate the university land. “And once we agree, they cannot spend one day after on our land,” Abdulkareem said.

The VC disclosed that the university, under his immediate predecessor in 2017, had granted a threemonth extension window which the herders had requested for in order to vacate the university land, an agreement which was eventually violated after the herders failed to comply with it.

Herdsmen from 11 communities took turns to speak at the meeting. Adamu maintained that the Fulani had been living peacefully in the environment and had even helped in checking crimes such as kidnappings, robberies, which hitherto occurred on the university campus.

The herdsmen appealed to the university management for time and pledged to come up with a response on the matter by February 22. Speaking at an earlier meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, the DSS representative, Mr. A. Akinsola, said: “The security agencies are ready to assist; just tell us what you want to do and we will support you.”

Meanwhile, members of the once dreaded farmers’ group in the South- West, “Agbekoya,” have asked Fulani herdsmen to leave Oyo State immediately. The quit notice came on the heels of the killing of the commander of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Saki and a farmer at Iseyin in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State.

The dreaded hunters, who held sway in the region during the tenure of the defunct Action Group (AG), spoke yesterday though their President-General, Chief Kamoru Okiki Aremu, and the Oyo State Governor of the group, Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu. Aremu and Shehu said they had had enough of the senseless killings by the herdsmen and could no longer watch helplessly. Though the Serkin Fulani of Okeogun, Alhaji Bello, claimed that he had lost four of his men, Aremu told our correspondent that the herdsmen killed a farmer at Iseyin a few days ago.

He said: “They slaughtered him and then beheaded him. What was his offence? He complained that their cattle ate his dried cassava tubers. It was his child who narrowly escaped that raised the alarm. We cannot take this any longer. “As a result of the killing, some of my members called me to get permission if they could go in search of the assailants.

We can’t wait for the police again. Police can’t guarantee us safety again. We have complained several times to the police, the state government and the Federal Government and we have found out they cannot handle the issue.” Asked what would be done if the killers were not released by the Fulani, Aremu said his members would not take it lightly.

He said: “We can no longer fold our arms while they have a field day mowing our people. We are ready for whatever happens. Enough is enough. We thought we could live together in peace, but these ones don’t understand the language of peace.” Similarly, the leader of Agbekoya in Oyo State, Shehu, said his men had been given the mandate not to sit by and watch the ‘lawless’ herdsmen. He said: “Our people are already in the bush looking for them.

We know that the real culprit is not easy to find. What we are saying is that they should leave our lands and anyone who fails to heed the warning should have himself to blame. “You need to see the inhuman manner they killed the farmer. His children had to be picking his body parts that had been dismembered.

A few days ago, they killed a SARS Commander at Saki. We have had enough and are tired of these killings. They have inflicted so much pain on us in this Oke Ogun area and we have been driven to the wall. We can’t tolerate this any longer.” But the Serkin Fulani in Oke Ogun area, Bello, said: “As you are talking to me now, they have killed four Fulani men and many cows. They have gone to bring three corpses of our men they killed. The policemen are already here.”

 

 

Osinbajo Denies Receiving Letter From Benue Govt Over Herdsmen Attacks

SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT AGAINST LIES, FALSEHOOD AND MISINFORMATION

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT – PRESS STATEMENT

BENUE KILLINGS: REPORTS VICE PRESIDENT IGNORED BENUE GOVERNOR’S LETTER ABSOLUTELY FALSE

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, was shocked by a news report ostensibly quoting the Benue State Governor Sam Ortom as saying that the VP was warned of the savage and inhumane killings by alleged herdsmen in Logo and Guma local government areas which took place on the 1st of January 2018

Although the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo, does not believe that the Governor could ever have said so, it will be a terrible falsehood to suggest that the VP was ever informed by the Governor or anyone else of the imminence of the killing of citizens of our country in those or any other local governments in Benue State.

Governor Ortom wrote to the Vice President, then Acting President, on 7th June 2017 protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Open Grazing Prohibition law of the State and that they would mobilize to resist the law. The Miyetti Allah had written to the Vice President on the 5th of June 2017 on the same law protesting several sections of the law. The Governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive,” to describe the law, and because these were “utterances that are capable of undermining the peace…”

The Vice President subsequently met with the Governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the State and then ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017!

In the said letter written by the Governor, there was no mention of any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of Benue State, so the best the law enforcement agencies could do even then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack. Nonep came. Since then the VP has held several meetings with the Benue State Governor, including a visit to the State on the 6th of September, last year at the behest of Mr. President during the tragic floods in the state last year. At all such meetings, the Vice President discussed the security situation of the State with the Governor.

Following that, the then Acting President convened a major national security retreat which was attended by all State Governors, service chiefs and heads of security agencies. The Retreat featured very detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.

To the best of our knowledge, neither Governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on the 1st of January, and therefore any suggestion that the President or the Vice President ignored the State Governor’s warning is both absolutely false and certainly misleading.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President

Office of the Vice President

15 January 2018