BAF Describes APC Govs Visit Belated, Condemns FG

Benue Advancement Forum (BAF), has described the recent visit by some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Benue State, coming several weeks after the killing of 73 innocent people by suspected Fulani herdsmen, as belated and a mockery.

The organisation, led by its chairman, Professor David Iornem, made the stand known yesterday (Saturday), at a world press conference in Makurdi, the state capital. In an address presented by its deputy chairman, Professor Jerry Agada, BAF wondered why it took the northern governors a long time to pay a condolence visit to their colleague. It said it was equally curious that the visit came only after a delegation of Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, South South and Middle Belt socio-cultural groups had visited the state.

BAF condemned the attacks on children, women and other vulnerable people in Guma and Logo Council Area. It faulted the silence of President Buhari on the killings and urged the Federal Government to arrest those behind the genocide and declare herdsmen a terrorist organisation.

“BAF will also want to state that we do not trust the intentions of the Federal Government in sending troops to Benue, even as the government of President Buhari has not come out clearly to support the anti-open grazing law in Benue. It seems that Buhari’s government does not believe that the Benue State House of Assembly has any right to make laws that are acceptable and beneficial to protecting the interest of Benue citizens,” the group stated.

It urged Governor Ortom to remain courageous and firm, as he has been on the anti-grazing law, which it described as the best solution to lasting peace in the country.

According to the group, “We want to advice further that Benue State already has a law regulating livestock farming and we do not need any other law that seeks to introduce the idea of cattle colonies. Cattle colonies will be counter-productive and extremely dangerous in these times when the menace of insurgency is at its peak.

“Herdsmen/cattle colonies will only provide a safe haven for insurgents and open doors to the likes of Al-Shabab and other terrorist groups who have been seeking hostage. We have died and are not afraid of dying again. We would rather die than have our land and heritage taken away from us,” the group warned.

Benue Killings: Senate Gives IGP 14 Days Ultimatum To Produce Perpetrators

A 14 days ultimatum has been given by the Senate to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris to produce the perpetrators of the Benue Killings.

The report was presented by Chairman of the Committee on the Review of the Current Security Infrastructure in Nigeria, Sen. Ahmed Lawan during plenary on Tuesday.

This position was sequel to the consideration of a report of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Current Security Infrastructure in Nigeria.

The committee had on Friday last week, visited Benue to ascertain the level of killings in the state.

He said the recommendations of the committee included re-examining, revamping and reinventing the nation’s security architecture and infrastructure in order to ensure that no community or entity was left unsecured and unsafe.

Lawan who is also the Senate Leader said other recommendations are for the Senate to convene as a matter of utmost urgency a national security summit.

He said the committee recommended that government should examine the recurring violence and mayhem visited rural communities before they become an existential threat to national cohesion and national survival.

“The Federal Government should examine the deployment of security personnel in our rural communities and borders to ensure that no one gets in or out of the country without proper documentation and regular surveillance.

“The Federal Government should ensure full compliance with the letter and spirit of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, cattle and goods with a view to ensuring that it is administered strictly to preserve the interests, safety and security of Nigeria and its people.

“The Federal Government should immediately re-examine the current deployment of security forces, particularly the Police, DSS and Civil Defence Corp, etc. in order to strengthen their presence in the rural areas,” he said.

He said government should beef up and re-strategise its deployment of security intelligence capabilities with a view to obtaining actionable intelligence about impending attacks and plots in order to forestall and prevent the recurrence of rural violence and inter-ethnic conflagrations.

“The Federal and Benue State Government should ensure that all those living in IDP camps are properly catered for and the burnt infrastructure in their communities are properly rebuilt to enable the people return and resume their normal lives.

“The government through the Ministry of Agriculture should as a matter of urgency convene a special National Council on Agriculture meeting to deliberate on the development and modernization of Nigeria’s livestock and dairy industry.”

In an additional prayer Sen. Philip Aduda (PDP-FCT) said the President of the Senate should meet with President Muhammadu Buhari with the recommendations for immediate implementation to douse the tension in the country.

The prayer was supported by Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano)

In his contribution, the Deputy President of the Senate,Mr Ike Ekweremadu said “the killings that is going on in Nigeria are assuming an alarming proportion and very disturbing.”

He said as a responsible parliament, the senate must rise to the situation by saying “enough is enough”.

“I don’t expect us to sit down here and not do anything. Nigerians expect us not only to say something but do something.

“I believe that the recommendations of the Senate Leader would be of great help in addressing these problems.

“Nigerians are not only worried but the international community are also worried.”

He, however, stressed the need for social contract which hinged on security and welfare of the citizenry.

Similarly, Sen. David Mark (PDP-Benue South) said this was a national issue.

“There are immediate solutions and long term solutions to the problem. Creation of cattle colonies, devolution of power and state police those are long term solutions because we cannot do that first thing tomorrow.

“Presently, there is no intelligence transmission between the herders, villages and the government or if there is, government is not proactive, government is not acting on intelligence.

“Nigeria is not the country with the largest cattle in the world. There are modern ways of doing things and we must grow with time. We cannot be operating on archaic system.”

On his part, Sen. Shehu Sani(APC-Kaduna) said cautioned against viewing the crisis from religious and ethnic perspective adding “if you are faced with a crisis and you use ethnic or religious lenses to view at it, you will see a religious, ethnic or sectional image.

“This is not the time for diplomacy and courtesy. This is the time to provide leadership for a nation that is in national emergency and national distress,” Sani said.

He said there must be a clear distinction between armed herdsmen who must be confronted frontally and Fulani cattle rearers.

Also speaking, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia) attributed the killings to lack of jobs in the country.

He urged the Federal Government to pass the Peace Corps bill into law for intelligence gathering at the grassroots.

In his remarks, President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki noted that the Senate’s debate on the clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue and other states had shown that it was not religious-based.

“It was a breakdown of law and order in that part of the country.

“I commend my Distinguished Colleagues for their sincerity and patriotism during this debate. This killing is also a wake up call for all of us to put all hands on deck to address this crisis.

“We want to see immediate action. One point raised here today is the issue of justice. Without justice we cannot see unity and that justice stands as one of our recommendations.

“In the next 14 days, the Inspector General of Police must find the perpetrators, arrest them, and the Attorney General of Benue State must prosecute them. That is the minimum requirement and it must happen,” he said.

“Our resolution is that some of our discussions here need to be conveyed to Mr. President. We appreciate his actions for calling us and giving us a brief on what has happened. Hence, we owe it to him to tell him what we have discussed and the seriousness with which we have taken the issue.

“It is a wake up call for him and it is a wake up call for us. It is a wake–up call for this government. We must address the issue of security. We cannot continue to allow this violence to keep going on from one state to another. Therefore, something needs to be done,” Saraki said.


Address Herdsmen Crisis – SERAP Urges UN High Commissioner

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an urgent appeal to Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who is UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights urging him to use his leadership position to “urgently facilitate the holding of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to address persistent killings apparently by herdsmen in Benue State of Nigeria and other parts of the country.”

SERAP urged Prince Al Hussein to “speak out strongly and condemn the killings apparently by herdsmen in the country, and make an official visit to Nigeria with relevant mandates to discuss the killings and concrete actions to end the killings and ultimately bring about significant improvements in the lives of farmers and their families as well as other citizens affected by violence across the country.”

In an urgent appeal dated 6 January 2018 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said, “The UN Human Rights Council’s ability to successfully expose and hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account may be under threat if your office continues to ignore or pay little attention to the crimes and abuses apparently by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators in Nigeria.”

The organization said, “While we acknowledge that the council has made significant contributions to human rights elsewhere, we are concerned that the violence and killings in Nigeria rarely attract the attention of the UN and particularly, your office. It is time for your office to speak out strongly against the continuing killings by herdsmen in Nigeria for the sake of thousands of victims and their families who continue to lack access to an effective remedy, including truth, justice and full and effective reparation.”

The urgent appeal read in part:

“The killings in Benue State of Nigeria and the distressing situation of farmers and their families paint a stark picture of the grave abuses carried out apparently by herdsmen and the impunity that they continue to enjoy. The actions of herdsmen hinder meaningful progress towards stability, development and peace in the country.”

“We also urge your office to facilitate the process of creating a commission of inquiry to investigate killings by herdsmen in Nigeria, and to uncover, name and shame cow owners that hire the herdsmen, as such owners may be criminally complicit in the killings. The involvement of your office will ensure solid investigations into the alleged killings, and help draw international attention to the problem, which in turn will go a long way in putting pressure on the Nigerian authorities to take concrete and meaningful steps to end the killings and bring suspected perpetrators to justice.”

“SERAP notes that the Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the failed UN Commission on Human Rights, which had largely been unwilling to address real human rights concerns in deserving countries.”

“The council needs to be vigilant to avoid the problems that plagued its predecessor, including a loss of relevance from failing to speak out on human rights violations and abuses in deserving countries, such as Nigeria. We urge your office to seek full respect for the right to life, to personal security and dignity, to property, and other human rights of farmers and other Nigerians, consistent with the international human rights standards your office has sworn to uphold.”

“Nigeria is a member of the Human Rights Council, and has ratified several UN human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nigeria has also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has in fact become part of the national laws.”

“The Human Rights Council cannot be silent when innocent citizens are caught up in violence such as the one going on in Benue State. The international community must strive to deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur and ensure that those found to be responsible for such crimes are brought to justice.”

“SERAP strongly believes that the holding of a special session on the violence and killings apparently by herdsmen in Benue State and elsewhere in Nigeria would contribute to a speedy end to the problem, and to peace and greater respect for human rights of farmers and their families as well as other citizens.”

“The holding of a special session on the killings in Benue State will be consistent with the practice of the Human Rights Council regarding its previous special sessions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories; Lebanon; Darfur; Myanmar; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Global Food Crisis and the Global Economic and Financial Crises, among others.”

SERAP therefore urged Prince Al Hussein to:

  1. Urgently facilitate a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the persistent killings by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators in Benue State of Nigeria and other parts of the country with a view to ending the problem and ensuring access of victims and their families to an effective remedy, including truth, justice and full and effective reparation;
  2. Speak out strongly and condemn the killings by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators in the country, and make an official visit to Nigeria with special rapporteurs having relevant mandates to discuss the killings and concrete actions to ultimately end the problem, and bring about significant improvements in the lives of farmers and their families as well as other citizens affected by violence across the country;
  3. Put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to allow and facilitate the visits of Special Procedures mandate holders to investigate years of violence and killings by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators in the country with complete impunity;
  4. Prevail on the Nigerian authorities to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC to investigate fully, effectively, fairly, independently and impartially and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for crimes against humanity in the context of the on-going attacks and violence in Benue State and elsewhere in the country;
  5. Use the opportunity of the special session to urge other states to exercise universal jurisdiction over the killings and violence in Benue State and elsewhere in the country