From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Benue State chapter has condemned in strong terms, statement credited to Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong that farmers also carry sophisticated arms like Fulani herdsmen.
AFAN stated this in a statement jointly signed by its state Chairman, Aondongu Saaku and state Public Relations Officer, Anthony Onu Ogbole and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Wednesday.
“We watched with shock, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong on Channels Television where he accused farmers of carrying AK-47 riffles like Fulani herdsmen.
While describing Governor Lalong’s accusation as grossly unacceptable, the Association rejected it in its entirety, stressing that the Governor’s utterances was an insult to Benue farmers in particular and Nigerian farmers in general whose efforts in feeding the nation are being frustrated by the atrocities of armed herdsmen.
“Benue farmers are peaceful and law abiding. We do not take the law into our hands despite the many unprovoked attacks on our members who are killed in their hundreds and their only source of livelihood destroyed by armed herdsmen.
They however commended the efforts of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom in the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law and numerous other measures he is taking to guarantee lasting peace and security in the state.
AFAN also lauded Ortom for his firm stand for justice and his unflinching commitment to ensuring that thousands of its members who have been displaced as a result of herdsmen attacks return to their ancestral homes.
“We are still waiting for the N10billion promised by the Federal Government to help displaced farmers to resettle.
We are encouraged by the Governor’s selfless efforts and it is our belief that someday soon, we will get justice.
“We hereby call on the national office of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria to rise in defence of her members across the country,” the statement concluded.