Abounu Raises Alarm Of Impending Attack In Benue

Mr. Benson Abounu has raised alarm while speaking to newsmen on Wednesday of impending attacks on Benue communities.

The Acting Governor of Benue said security reports made available to him had indicated that large number of armed mercenaries had occupied the Benue Valley and were planning to launch simultaneous attacks on five major Benue communities.

About six local government areas of the state had at one time or more been attacked by Fulani herdsmen since New Year’s Day.

Some of the council areas that have suffered attacks include Guma, Logo, Okpokwu, Makurdi, Agatu and Kwande LGAs.

According to Abonu, the reports he had received, the mercenaries had already identified and occupied five different locations and communities along the riverine areas of the state waiting to launch possible attacks simultaneously.

The acting governor, who disclosed this shortly after he came out of the State Executive Council Meeting held at the Government House in Makurdi, noted that the situation was very pathetic.

“We have received security reports which indicated that large numbers of armed mercenaries have moved into the Benue Valley and had mapped out five different locations in Benue State to launch possible attacks on five major communities in the state simultaneously.

“This development is absolutely worrisome and unhealthy to our state and we condemn it in totality. The reports further showed that the mercenaries would be carrying out their nefarious attacks on those communities occupied by people around the riverine areas of the state.

“Since we got this report, we have never rest on our oars. I have been meeting with all the heads of security formations in the state for us to find ways of stopping these people,” Abounu stressed.

 

Who Will Save Some Nigerians From Intellectual Laziness? By Femi Adesina

Since President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Archbishop of Canterbury in London on Wednesday, and spoke on the likely impact of gunmen trained by former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, on the killings by herdsmen in Nigeria, some people have virtually flown off the handle, ululating as if wailing was going out of fashion.

They twisted the meaning of Mr President’s words (yes, some people twist everything, even the words of God; 2 Peter:3, 15,16). They claimed he was blaming Gaddafi, long dead, for the killings in Nigeria.

But let’s see the vacuousness and intellectual laziness in the twist they have given what President Buhari said, out of sheer malice and evil hearts. Sadly, even a Senator was involved in the sickening display of poisonous heart. That’s what you get when small minds get into high places.

Here’s what Mr President told Archbishop Justin Welby:

“The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region. These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.

“Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons. The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions.”

“The problem is even older than us,” said President Buhari. If anybody is not challenged with simple understanding of English language, does this mean pre-Gaddafi? The former Libyan leader was born in 1942, and killed in October 2011, making him 69 years old at the time of his death. So, did he cause clashes between farmers and herdsmen, which the President said was older than most living Nigerians? Only rabidly mischievous minds can conceive such.

“It has always been there, but now made worse…” If you say something has been exacerbated by a factor, does it mean such factor is the cause? Simply illogical.

The President talked about the influx of militia trained, armed and used by Gaddafi, who now dispersed into different countries, including possibly Nigeria, after the Libyan strongman’s death. Are some people claiming ignorance of such development, despite it being global knowledge? So deep must be the ignorance of such people. Simple research will show them the Libyan influence on proliferation of small arms all over Africa, after Gaddafi’s death.

The President then talked about the herdsmen we used to know, who carried just sticks, and at worst a cutlass, saying those armed with sophisticated weapons were unknown to this clime. Is that not true?

If herdsmen have suddenly turned murderous in a country, it calls for all sorts of interrogation, including intellectual, as to what may have gone wrong. The causes could be multifarious. And solutions must be jointly proffered.

A President has sensitive security reports available to him. President Buhari gave another vista from which the herdsmen/farmers clashes could be considered, but rather than be reflective and do critical interrogation, the wailers engaged in their pastime: they began to wail, including senators and people who should naturally be level headed and examine issues dispassionately. Very sorry.

“But we are working on solutions,” President Buhari told the cleric. They ignored that. It holds no meaning for them. They are interested in problems, not solutions. Problems serve their pernicious interests more. Pity!
That is what hatred does to the heart. It stunts the mind and poisons the soul. Such heart plays petty partisan and divisive politics with every matter. It is what President Buhari at that meeting called “irresponsible politics.” And as we head for general elections next year, much more of it would be seen, except such people reform, and put on their thinking caps.

The tendency now is to twist and slant every word from President Buhari in the negative, all in a bid to demean, de-market, and demonize him, and make him unattractive to the electorate. But those who do it are to be pitied. Sensible Nigerians know what the President is doing for the country, and would queue behind him at the polls next year. At the end of it all, the detractors would be holding the short ends of the stick, and looking small, forlorn and disconsolate. Where would they then hide their faces?

{MAGAZINE} Herdsmen Attacks: Issues And Prospects

 

Nigeria is being confronted with the security threat of the Fulani herdsmen attack on farmers, farmlands and rural dwellers, but in the State of Osun, the government have been so proactive to prevent such attacks, as against the situation in some other neighbouring states. SOLA JACOB writes on the measures put in place by the state government.

Virtually all the states in Nigeria are counting human and infrastructural loss due to the menace of the Fulani herdsmen, which has been threatening the fabric of the existence of the country. The continuous siege of these marauders who masquerade as herdsmen had almost pitched the nation along political and ethnic lines.

The State of Osun also had its fair share on the recent menace that plagued the nation, but the proactive stance of the state government has saved the situation and averted loss of lives in the state.

According to the Commissioner for Special Duties in the state, Honourable Mudashir Toogun, it could be estimated that Osun has over 3 million cattle herds in the state but the state had not conducted census to know the actual number of Fulani herdsmen in the state.

He continued that the state had taken proactive stances since June, 2014 with the establishment of committee of Fulani/Farmers, which is the composition of representative of Ministry of Agriculture, Chairman of Fulani Community, the Bororo representative, Chairman of Agricultural Farmers Association of Nigeria, Representative of Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Traditional Institution and Women in Farming.

The committee had visited Fulani settlements across the state. The settlements are largely concentrated at Osun West Senatorial District because of the climate and Savannah nature of the area which is suitable for cattle rearing.

In the process of the visit, the committee held series of meeting with Fulani Communities which bothers on the peaceful coexistence with their host communities, as well sensitise them on the cultural values and beliefs of others.

The committee as well took time to know their need and what could enhance their peaceful living in their land of sojourn, which could make them contribute to the development and growth of the state at large.

Toogun said that three major demands were made by the Fulani’s across the state  among which is Hajj slots, request for potable water for their consumption and their cattle as well as qualitative education for their wards.

It is interesting to note that Fulani women desired quality and qualitative education as reflected in their requests, and in collaboration with the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), nomadic schools in the state were rehabilitated and about eleven boreholes were sunk in different communities occupied by Fulanis.

This attracted the respect of the Fulani herdsmen in the state for farmers in their host communities and foster peaceful coexistence because of the foresight and proactive stance of the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

However, the recent experience in the state was the migration of some armed bandits who are referred to as Bororo. According to a security report, they usually come in through Osun border from the neighbour Kogi and Kwara states.

In the last one week in the state, reports of their atrocities had been reported in Ila, as a large farm settlement was destroyed by these marauders, while information has it that presently, some parts of Ijesaland are under their siege, especially Esa Odo, Esa-Oke, Ilesa and Ila.

At times, the real Fulani people in the state do not understand their language and they are not peaceful but rather militant in their dealings.

The chairman of Miyetti Allah Fulani Association in the State of Osun, Alhaji Sulaiman Oloruntoyin, who is the head of Fulani community in the state, in a chart with Osun defender, said “they are violent in nature and in appearance, usually armed with dangerous weapon like AK47 and other sophisticated weapons, they usually move at night, they rustle our cattle”.

Oloruntoyin has since been appointed as the Special Assistant to the Governor on peaceful coexistence of Fulani Bororo Farmers in the state.

To corroborate the claims, Toogun, who is the chairman of the Peaceful Co-existence of Fulani and Farmers in the state said that with dismay, the state noticed strange movement of armed bandits who also rustled cattle of Fulanis who are law abiding in the state, saying, they are nocturnal and very destructive.

Toogun said, to combat their activities, the state has launched a surveillance team in the trouble prone points in the state, saying, “they alerted us and we have sent some of these marauders amongst the herdsmen out of the state in collaboration with other Fulani stakeholders in the state.

“The keywords are vigilance and cooperation of all and sundry which gave us feats achieved in sustenance of peaceful atmosphere we have in the state”, the Commissioner stressed.

Despite the moves of the state government to promote and sustain peaceful co-existence among various ethnic groups in the state, it does not mean that there are no minor skirmishes among the Fulanis and their hosting communities, but the committee on peaceful co-existence between the Fulani/Farmers in the state had settled almost 6,000 cases which bothers on grazing on peoples’ farms and both parties  at the end of the cases always abide by the decision of the committee which premises on fairness and quality.

Even some litigations had been withdrawn by parties and resolved amicably through the committee. This shows the level of the credibility and acceptance of the committee’s verdicts by the litigants.

Marriage had always been a bonding force as well, as the Fulani’s had got married to Yoruba’s in their hosting communities, hence, the mutual relationship and respect for other peoples’ culture had come to play.

Oloruntoyin has revealed that most Fulani residents in the state are citizens by birth, saying he is the third generation of his great grandfather in Yorubaland.

“We build modern houses here, our children are in universities and we have inter-marriage. There is need for the populace to know that the issue of senseless killing across the states of the nation affects us as well. The marauders who masquerade as herdsmen rustle our cattle, just that we are lucky not to lose any lives to them in Osun. So, it is only our collective effort that will make us to conquer them. But if we continue to apportion blames along ethnic and religious lines, we are not doing ourselves any favour with that.

“To curtail the menace of these marauders, it must be the collaboration of the villagers, traditional rulers, Fulani communities, the security agents and the general publics”, he said.

According to him, the Fulani residents in the state have discovered that some farmers do invite other herders from other states to their farms to help use cattle to graze their land after harvesting, saying, this portends danger, as most of these invitees sometimes come to graze such farmers during the planting season which always result into losses for the farmers.

“Fulani residents in their host communities are known by the people and traditional rulers in such communities, any strange herders seen should be thoroughly interrogated and the villagers should quickly alert the committees.

Oloruntoyin then advised that more sensitisation and education should be carried to the rural communities, especially border villages on the need to be vigilante and report presence of strange herders to the appropriate authority.

 

Buhari Says Herdsmen Attacks Will Not Be Tolerated

President Muhammadu Buhari has said all security agencies in the country has been instructed to arrest and prosecute any and all persons found with illegal arms.

The president was reacting to recent attacks in Benue and Taraba states, and other parts of the country in the continued herdsmen/farmers clashes.

“The attacks by suspected herdsmen will not be tolerated and I appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from reprisal attacks,” President Buhari said while commissioning a school in Nassarawa state.

Also in attendance at the event were Nassarawa state governor, Tanko Al-Makura; Plateau state governor, Solomon Lalong; Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, among others.

At least 73 people died in the Benue attacks on January 1 and 2.

Many Nigerians, including former leaders Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, have criticised the president’s handling of the crisis.

Mr. Buhari said additional resources have been deployed to help deal with the crisis.

“I want to assure the people of North central and all Nigerians that the federal government is working day and night to ensure peace n stability. We have deployed additional resources to all affected areas to maintain law and order,” the president said at Tuesday’s event.

“I will like to once again express my condolence and sympathy to the victims of these barbaric act,” he added.

Herdsmen Crisis: Osinbajo Led NEC Committee Meets In Abuja

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is currently meeting behind closed doors with some state governors.

The meeting holding at the Presidential Villa, Abuja is being attended by governors of Adamawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Kaduna and Zamfara States.

Deputy governors of Benue and Oyo States are also in attendance.

It is a meeting of a committee set up recently by the National Economic Council to find lasting solution to herdsmen’s killings across the country.

Members of the group had their first meeting immediately after the NEC meeting during which the committee was established.

Herdsmen Attack: Seven Policemen, Two Soldiers Killed In Two Months

Seven Policemen and two soldiers have lost their lives within the past two months in the crisis involving herdsmen and farmers.

This was revealed in a statement by the Brigade Commander, 23rd Amour Brigade Yola, Bello Mohammed on Thursday in Yola while addressing a town hall meeting on the crisis.

Mr. Mohammed, a brigadier general, said the military organized the meeting to sound a final warning to those involved that it would henceforth be hard on those who fail to embrace peace and dialogue in resolving differences.

“The crisis that initially started in Numan and environs spread to four LGAs namely; Girei, Demsa, and Lamurde, and later to parts of Taraba.”

“Sadly, the measures and strategies employed by security agencies have not yielded the desired effect; the stakeholders have regarded our soft handedness measures as the weakness and incapable of dealing with the situation.”

“Henceforth, we members of the security agencies forum have collectively resolved to tackle this mayhem and unwarranted killings at all cost.”

“The first deliberate step towards permanently resolving this issue is this town hall meeting. It is part of soft power approach to internal security situations, it would be followed by hard and smart power approaches. To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” Mr. Mohammed said.

While lamenting that elites, politicians and traditional rulers in the affected areas were not helping matters in addressing the problem, Mr. Mohammed said warring parties were also fond of over-reacting and mostly on baseless and unconfirmed information.

The brigade commander said that as part of measures taken by security agents to tackle the security situation in Numan, resisting an arrest or obstructing security personnel from carrying out their duties would be considered as a serious offense.

Other actions that constitute serious offenses according to him include unlawful assemblies and movement of persons with arms in affected communities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that those who spoke at the meeting included representatives of farmers, herdsmen, politicians, traditional, and religious leaders.

They all condemned the crisis and resolved to mobilize their people towards peaceful coexistence and the need for dialogue in resolving a conflict.

 

Benue, Nasarawa Govs Disagree On Killer Herdsmen’s Location

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Tanko Al-Makura, have disagreed on the location of the Fulani herdsmen, who attacked several Benue State communities last week, killing no fewer than 71 residents.

While Ortom alleged that the marauding herdsmen launched their attacks from their Nasarawa base, Al-Makura faulted the Benue State governor’s assertion, asking Ortom the source of his allegation.

Ortom spoke with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The Benue State governor said he would support any move, including military option that could put an end to the killings being witnessed in the state.

He however said he would not support the Federal Government’s plan to establish cattle colonies until he understood the concept.

The meeting, which was the first between the two leaders since violence broke out in the state on January 1, afforded the governor the opportunity of briefing Buhari about the security development.

He said although he had briefed the President on the telephone immediately the incident took place, he felt there was the need for him to meet Buhari personally after he had succeeded in restoring normalcy to a level.

When asked for his position on the suggestion that full blown military operation be applied in his state, the governor said, “Anything that can stop the killings of my people, I will go for it. I support it.

“Any policy or any directive, anything that will help stop the killing of these innocent people who are not armed, I will support it because this cannot continue.”

The governor explained that the law on prohibition of open grazing and establishment of ranching was made out of the need to ensure that there was a peaceful coexistence among herdsmen and farmers.

Ortom said he did not understand the concept of the cattle colonies being proposed by the Federal Government.

He added, “I am waiting to be briefed about what colonies means. I don’t understand it.

“Like I keep saying, for us the way forward is ranching and until this time I am talking to you, the way forward is ranching because it is a global best practice.

“It is not just being practised in other parts of the world, on African soil in Swaziland, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, almost all African countries that rear cattle, they ranch. So, why can’t we do the same thing here?

“‘For the colony thing, I don’t know what colony is.”

The governor said the state had been witnessing peace since the implementation of the law started up until the militias from the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore came and attacked the people.

He further claimed that the attackers and their location were known.

The governor disclosed that the attackers were camped in Tongua in the Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, from where they launched their attacks.

He said the gunmen still succeeded in killing two riot policemen on Monday while one other was injured in another attempt to attack the people in the Logo LGA.

The governor stated, “It (the situation) is taking a different dimension. Just yesterday (Monday) in the Logo Local Government, mobile policemen that were deployed in Logo to keep vigil to protect the people and the land, these militia came, exchanged fire with them, caught two of them and slaughtered them like goats.

“They shot another one, inflicted machete cuts on him and left him in the pool of his blood but luckily, he did not die. We have taken him to the hospital, we are treating him, the other one that was declared missing was found today (Tuesday).

“So, when it gets to the level of militia killing security men who are armed and are trained to protect lives and property, is it not taking a dangerous dimension? Who is now safe?”

He said he had been writing to the leadership of the nation’s security agencies since June 2017 on the need to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who he described as threats to the state’s collective interest.

Ortom attributed the killings to the failure of the security agencies.

He insisted that the leaders of MAKH must be arrested and prosecuted because his government could allow impunity to continue to thrive.

On the claim by the Chairman of the Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Benue State chapter, Garos Gololo, that the killings were in retaliation for the theft of 1,000 cows by some people in the state, Ortom said, “You know that man is a liar. Gololo is a liar, he is a wanted man in Benue State; we don’t even know where he is. He stays somewhere and makes allegations.

“The other time, he said 1,000 cattle drowned and that the herdsman decided to commit suicide by jumping to the river. He has not come out to justify what he said.”

But Al-Madura described Ortom’s statement that those who attacked his state were camped in Tango, Awe LGA of Nasarawa State, as unfortunate.

Al-Makura, while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, said it was unfortunate that Ortom could make such a weighty allegation at a time his government was supporting him to tackle the security challenge in his state.

He explained that the town that Ortom claimed was serving as a base for the attackers was currently occupied by Internally Displaced Persons.

The governor said, “I am really taken back. This statement is most unfortunate. I will like to use this opportunity to say that there is nothing like that whatsoever.

“If anything, the Tonga that the governor is talking about in the Awe LGA is now the safe haven for displaced persons. As I speak with you today, there are more than three IDP camps in the Awe local government that cater to the number of people that have migrated from Benue to Nasarawa.

“To be specific, there are more than 7,000 people that are camped in Tonga. So, it is very ironical that a place that is supposed to be an area that has become a safe haven for IDPs can now be called militias’ camp.

“In that case, the militia do not need to go as far as Benue. They have the prey within the vicinity of Tonga to attack. I think this is most unfortunate.

“With the efforts we, as a state, are making and collaborating and supporting the governor to find ways and means of solving this problem, that Nasarawa State can be identified as an area where some of these militants are coming from, is unfortunate.”

Al-Makura recalled that he and six other governors met the nation’s service chiefs and some ministers for over seven hours on Monday on how to solve the problem.

He expressed surprise that Ortom did not find it worthy to approach him and tell him of such finding.

“He could not approach me and give me an idea if there is anything that he saw or he is worried about.

“Besides, from all the discussions we had yesterday, there was no concrete security report stigmatising any part of Nasarawa State as harbouring people that are coming to attack Benue.

“I feel what should be of concern to us as leaders is the plight of the people and any such statement that is inflammatory is likely going to cause more confusion than what is already there,” he added.

The Nasarawa State governor attributed the violence in Benue State to the implementation of the state’s anti-grazing law.

He added, “As it is, it is the implementation of the anti-grazing law in Benue caused the problem and now Nasarawa State is being infected by the problem. Notwithstanding that, we are being our brothers’ keepers and good neighbours.

“I had to cut short my vacation and come to find ways of helping my colleague. We have called all our security agencies to meet to find ways and means of helping Benue.”

Source: PUNCH

Alleged Herdsmen Killing Of 33 Persons Sparks Protest In Benue

Hundreds of youths on Wednesday stormed the popular Food Basket Roundabout in Makurdi to protest the alleged killing of at least 33 people by herdsmen in Benue State.

The protest led to a gridlock in the area, causing traffic obstruction for motorists travelling through the state capital to the north and southern regions of the country.

The aggrieved youths have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in what they described as “terrorist killings” in their state.

Some of them were in tears as a vehicle conveyed another corpse into the crowd to prove their claims of the ongoing killings, following a reported attack which occurred on Tuesday night.

The protest came barely 24 hours after the State Security Council meeting which held at the Government House in the state capital.

Addressing reporters shortly after the meeting on Tuesday, the state governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, said he had received reports of 20 persons allegedly killed by herdsmen in the state.

During an on-the-spot assessment visit to some of the affected communities, Governor Ortom said an additional 13 deaths were discovered, taking the number of those killed to 33.

The governor, who was addressing some members of the affected communities, said: “Mr President has been briefed about this development, all the security chiefs have been briefed, and our Security Council today directed that security men should come and protect lives and property in this community.

“So I want to appeal to you to be calm, to be law-abiding, and there is no going back on the law that we signed; by the grace of God, it will be implemented.”

The killing of another resident following Tuesday’s reported attack sparked the protest by the youths who have asked the President to come to their rescue.

In a bid to contain the protest, personnel of the Nigerian Police and Nigerian Army were caught up in a faceoff with the irate youths who insist on occupying the road all through the week.

Eight Herdsmen Nabbed Over Benue Killings

The Police in Benue say they have arrested eight herdsmen over the death of 10 persons and seven livestock guards in Guma and Logo Local Governments of the state on Monday.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Moses Yamu, announced this in a statement.

“Eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo, had been arrested in connection with the attacks,” the police spokesman said.

He added that the command had made additional deployments to the troubled area to forestall further occurrence and restore confidence of the people.

Yamu stressed the situation in the two local government areas had been brought under control while investigation was ongoing.

He said:“They attacked Tomater village in Sengev Council ward, Akor village in Nzorov council ward and Bakin Kwata village in Umanger council ward of Guma LGA.

“Among those killed were seven (7) members of Benue State Livestock Guards, their vehicle burnt and an uncertain number of persons injured in separate attacks between 31/12/2017 and 02/01/2018.

“Again, Agba-Uko near Azege village and Tse-Aga village of Logo LGA experienced the same fate, where one person was killed, one motorcycle burnt and four persons injured.

“All the injured from both LGAs are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the State.”

According to him, five combined teams of mobile and conventional policemen led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations, ACP Emmanuel Adesina have engaged the armed herdsmen in a gun duel in Guma.

The Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law came into effect on November 1, 2017 to forestall attacks on Benue communities by suspected herders.

The law stipulates five year jail term or an option of N1 million fine for violators.

The attack is the first by suspected herdsmen since the law came into effect.

NAN

Herdsmen Attacks: Adamawa Government Calls For Calm

Adamawa State Commissioner for Information, Mr Ahmad Sajoh has reacted to the early Monday attack in Lawaru and Dong communities saying the state government and security agencies are on top of the situation.

Sajoh who called for calm among Adamawa residents spoke during a phone-in conversation on Channels Television Breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He explained that the military is working in collaboration with other security agencies and are on top of the situation.

“We also received this information just about now that there is an attack on the community known as Lawaru that the attackers are marching unto dawn.

“Although the situation is still being analysed, the security forces are on top of the situation and the attackers are suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. Nobody can say exactly what is going on,” he said.

Sajoh made reference to the previous attack in Numan adding that efforts are being channeled by security agencies to curtail its reoccurrence.

“We have been trying to contain the situation. We have done everything we could do to make sure such an attack does not take place,” he said.

Although the commissioner regretted the sad development, he, however, appealed to residents of the state not to take laws into their hands but to be calm.

Sajoh further reiterated the government’s position of restoring peace in the troubled region.