Killings: Reps Condemn Exclusion Of Kaduna, Plateau From Osinbajo Committee’s Visitation List

As Nigeria grapples with the herdsmen-farmers crisis which has led to the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians, two members of the House of Representatives have faulted the exclusion of Kaduna and Plateau states from the list of states to be visited by a committee.

The lawmakers made the claim on Thursday, February 8, while commenting on a motion brought by a member of the House, Sunday Katung, who represents the Zangon-Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency of Kaduna State.

The point of order was supported by the lawmaker representing Kachia/Kagarko Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, Mr Adams Jagaba.

Mr Katung had in his motion drawn the attention of the House to a statement from the Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying a sub-committee had been constituted to visit states affected by killings on a fact-finding mission.

The 10-man working group set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) and headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to look into the herdsmen-farmers crisis, set up the sub-committee on February 1.

The sub-committee, which has Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State as Chairman, is however expected to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states.

This decision did not go down well with the lawmakers who believe that herdsmen-farmers clashes in Kaduna and Plateau predate that of other areas.

Mr Katung said: “The crisis of the herdsmen has its bud in Southern Kaduna and if the visitation takes place in Kaduna and Plateau, a different story will be told because peace has returned to the Plateau and peace is returning strongly to Southern Kaduna.”

The lawmaker believes the states should be included on the visitation list as it would send a goodwill message to the people who he said are already reconciling at the grassroots.

Confirming that the crisis emerged from the southern part of Kaduna, Mr Jagaba disclosed that the number of deaths recorded was more than that of Benue State.

He also said that excluding the states from the list was unfair, noting that the committee would be treating the symptoms of the crisis and not the issues on the ground.

The lawmaker, who said “we need to be included,” alleged that the security agencies are aware of the whereabouts of the culprits in Southern Kaduna.

He further stressed the need for governance to be run in a way such that every citizen would be given a sense of belonging.

The motion was consequently adopted by the House while its Committee on Public Safety and Intelligence were mandated to liaise with the Office of the Vice President to ensure the inclusion of Kaduna and Plateau on the list of states to be visited.

The committee has also been asked to report back in two weeks’ time.

Herdsmen: Ministries Of Agriculture Expresses Fear Over Food Shortage

The State ministries of agriculture officials have expressed fears that the constant attacks on farmers by herdsmen will lead to food shortage.

The officials, in the North-East, Middle Belt, and the southern part of the country, specifically warned that the development could lead to malnutrition and poor health.

The Benue State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. James Ambua, said food production in the state would likely drop by 40 per cent this year as a result of constant herdsmen attacks on farmers.

The commissioner lamented that the recent attacks came at a time when farmers in the state were supposed to harvest their crops, stressing that the bulk of the farmers who survived the attacks had been displaced and are taking refuge outside their communities.

He explained that the state had comparative advantage in rice, yam, corn, sesame seed, and beniseed (sesame), adding that some of the farms were also burnt by the attackers.

He said, “Following the New Year attacks, the production of farm crops has dropped by 40 per cent and this will surely have effect on the nation’s food production.

“The dry season farming has been scuttled by herdsmen attacks because Guma and Logo local government areas were attacked. The country will definitely have food crisis this year and in 2019.”

The Taraba State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. David Kassa, also said the herdsmen killings was threatening national food security.

He said, “The Federal Government’s poor handling of herdsmen crisis in Taraba, Benue and other states will definitely throw the country into serious food crisis from this year on.”

The Chairman, Public Accounts and Petitions Committee in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Peter Gyendeng, said, “The impending food crisis from the Middle-Belt will likely spread to other parts of the country.”

The officials in charge of agriculture in the southwestern states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti have also raised the alarm that food crisis was imminent in the region this year.

The Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture, Kehinde Odebunmi, said, “Definitely, herdsmen attacks will affect food security in the South West region in particular, and the country in general, because the farmers have not been allowed to harvest their crops.”

He lamented that 10 hectares of castor seed, over 20 hectares of cassava plantation and over 100 hectares of rice were destroyed by the herdsmen in Oke Ako, Iyemero and Igede farm settlements, while they also torched more than 50 hectares of cassava plantation in Orin farm settlement.

Herdsmen Attack Leaves Taraba In Fear

Soon, the villages of Taraba will begin to echo as the inhabitants are beginning to flee from the communities of Gassol, Ibi and Wukari for fear of threatened herdsmen attack.

It was gathered that five persons were killed at Amande Jembe village in Bantaje District of the Wukari LGA and four others were killed in Ngutswen village, Gassol LGA, barely nine hours after Ishaku raised the alarm over the planned attacks.

It was dicovered that most of the villages were deserted as villagers fled their communities to Sabon Gida, Dan-Anacha and Mutum Biyu in Gassol, and Gidin Doruwa and Wukari in the Wukari LGA.

Mr. Simon Tyavwua, a resident who buried four of his relatives in Ngutswen village, said over 2,000 people, mostly Tiv, who were marked for attack, had moved to neighboring Sabon Gida to take refuge.

“Over 70 major villages housing over 2,000 people from Sabon Gida to Wurojam and Yerima to Gassol have been deserted. Most of these people are now living in internally displaced people’s camps in their land.

“These attacks get worse by the day, despite the alarm (raised) by the governor. There is not a single security personnel here,” he said.

The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Darius Ishaku on Public Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Bello, told our correspondent that it was not clear if the presence of military in the state was a direct response to the governor’s security alert.

“It is good that we are getting a better response from the military. This is a departure from the criminal silence and snobbishness of the past,” Bello said.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. David Missal, said that though there was no deployment of special forces to the state after the governor’s alarm, the police officers in the state were already on the alert.

“We are on the ground and have taken proactive measures to forestall any attack. For now, the situation in the state is calm,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mutual Union of Tiv in the United Kingdom has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Justin Welby, to intervene in the killings by suspected herdsmen.

In the letter titled ‘Genocide by the Fulani herders against the minority Tiv in Nigeria’ and signed by its Vice President, Dr. Kohol Iornem, a copy of which was sent to our correspondent, the group appealed to the Archbishop to call Buhari to end the killings.

Iornem explained that the plight of his “defenceless Tiv community” in the hands of the Fulani herdsmen and the failure of the President Buhari’s government to address the brutal killings in Benue and other states in Nigeria was causing tension in the country.

“Your Grace, the Nigerian body of our Lord Jesus Christ bears the painful, bleeding wounds of this ongoing and unchecked viciousness.

“We, therefore, turn to our Lord’s Church in the United Kingdom to investigate our claims and, on behalf of the defenceless victims, ask the government of Nigeria to stop the killings and bring justice to bear,” the letter read in part.

The UK-based Tiv group, in the letter circulated by its Publicity Secretary, Ms. Salome Biam, requested the Archbishop to intervene and compel the Federal Government of Nigeria to stop the killing of innocent people in the country, especially in Benue and Taraba states.

Herdsmen Kill Farmer in Ogun State

A farmer in his 60s, Adetona Owolabi, has reportedly been killed by suspected herdsmen who inflicted various machete cuts on him in Afon, Imeko-Afon Local Government area of Ogun State.

The farmer was said to have been working on his farmland located few metres away to the newly constructed bridge at Afon, along Owode/Abeokuta road when he was attacked by the herdsmen for challenging them when their cattle was grazing and destroying his farm produce such as cassava, yam and vegetables.

Ironically, the incident occurred few hours after the State Government held a meeting with security chiefs and representatives of various stakeholders such as leaders of the Fulani, Hausa communities and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigera in order to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers and also to ensure safety of lives and property.