Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The three main socio–cultural organisations in Benue State, the Mdzough U Tiv, Ochetoha K’ Idoma and Omi Ny’ Igede have jointly rejected the proposed construction of Ruga settlements in Benue State.
In a statement jointly signed by the president-generals of Mdzough u Tiv, Engr Edward Ujege, Ochetoha k’ Idoma, Barr Amali Adoya Amali and that of Omi Ny’ Igede, Ben O. Okpa, expressed shock over the new approach of the Federalgovernment through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to establish Ruga settlements for the Fulani of the West Africa.
While noting that the move is to deprive the indigenes of their land, given to them by their fore fathers which is their main source of livelihood, the Benue ethnic nationalities recalled that in the past, the Federal government under the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the non–existence cattle routes, grazing reserves and cattle colonies be established in Benue State to deprive the indigene of their farmlands.
“The award of contract by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for theestablishment of Ruga settlement boils down to one and the same as the urge by Miyetti Allah to claim the Benue valley as the original settlers and owners.
“We hereby state unequivocally that the Fulani herdsmen have never occupied or owned the Benue valley. The Federal government under the present leadership and Miyetti Allah are one and the same.”
They stated unequivocally that Ruga settlements cannot hold in Benue because the people with one voice had agreed that Benue State has an established law, “A law to prohibit open grazing and establishment of ranches 2017.”
They noted that since the Land Use Act has vested land in the state with the state governor and all non-urban land in the local government to the chairmen, the Benue State House of Assembly is constitutionally permitted to make laws for the wellbeing of her people.
They warned that people of Benue State will resist the construction of Ruga settlements even if it means extermination of the Benue race.
“We are in no doubt that General Muhammadu Buhari as a person hates BenueState indigenes to a fault. If not, how can a Federal government turn its back on the huge suffering of over 500,000 internally displaced people in Benue State?
“How would the Federal government cause the deterioration of Benue State economy and go on to blame it on the people and state government?
“Since the coming into rulership, the Federal government has not undertaken any major project in Benue State apart from trying to grab our land for construction of Ruga settlements which may be a proposal of the Miyetti Allah.
“Let it be known that the common man in Benue State will use all constitutional means to resist the illegal occupation of our land. We are calling on all BenueState indigenes at home and in the Diaspora to rise up to the occasion,” the groups stated.
They also urged the international community, well-meaning friends, all socio-cultural associations like, Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum, SouthSouth Forum, the United Nations and all who value human lives to come to the aid of the state in that regard.