Gyang Bere, Jos
No fewer than 7,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State who were allegedly attacked and displaced by Fulani herdsmen are said to be traumatised, depressed, with several of them contemplating suicide.
The displaced persons who are made up of women, children and the aged, were former residents of nine out of 15 communities who were forced out of their homes on March 8, 2018, the day President Muhammadu Buhari was in Plateau for a two-day official visit.
Spokesman of the Concerned Youths of Bokkos Local Government Area, Arch. Macham Makut, disclosed this on Tuesday in Jos while briefing journalists on the suspended RUGA settlement programme by Federal government.
Makut revealed that the communities from where the people were displaced in Bokkos Local Government Area had already been earmarked for the suspended RUGA settlement without the consent of the people now languishing in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
He vowed that the youths will vehemently resist any move to impose any unfair policy on the displaced communities and called on the Federal government to take urgent measures towards the resettlement of the people.
“Following the untold hardship currently face by IDPs in Bokkos Local Government Areas, women, children and the aged are traumatised, depressed and many others are contemplating suicide because of their pains.
“As patriotic citizens, we acknowledge the Federal government’s regard for the peace and progress of its citizens, in keeping with its constitutional responsibility.
“However, that the RUGA settlement policy was drawn without the consent and input of the farmers whose lands are expected to be converted for the RUGA project is highly questionable and tantamount to land-grabbing.
“The government is considering resettling the herdsmen while thousands of crop- farming peasants who were violently evicted from their homes remain in IDPs camps and other uninhabitable shelters is to say the least, insensible, divisive and an unwarranted assault. We in Bokkos LGA, from the attacks of last year 2018 alone, have 7,000 displaced persons from about nine communities which are now desolate.
“These people have not been resettled but we are aware that only the unilateral implementation of the RUGA programme was suspended. This was not even because Nigerians opposed it but because it was not in accordance with the design approved by the National Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Food Security Council.”
Makut explained that Plateau State has been under violent herdsmen attacks for almost two decades, leaving behind thousands of people killed, several displaced and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
“None of the victims of these dastardly acts has ever received any Federal government compensation or grant to start life again, despite losing all their means of livelihood and in some instances, breadwinners to the attacks.”
Makut kicked against the cattle colony, ranching and Ruga settlement and urged Federal government to encourage livestock farmers to imbibe the culture of ranching their animals as it is a personal business just like farming is to the rural farmers.
“Ranching has been successfully employed in some climes as a way of resolving herds attacks on crops of farmers. Anything short of this is unacceptable to us and any attempt to force the RUGA policy on our farming communities in Bokkos LGA, now or later will be firmly resisted through all available legal means.”