Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue’s three main sociocultural organisations – Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’Igede – have warned leaders of cattle breeders collective Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) to stop using the state’s anti-open grazing law as an excuse to commit acts of terror against farmers and the general public.
The tribal leaders gave the warning while reacting to a statement credited to the leaders of Miyetti Allah, in which they vowed to do everything possible to resist any law that is against their culture, movement and economic interests.
The joint statement, signed by Engr. Edward Ujege (President-General, Mdzough U Tiv), Barr. Amali Adoya Amali (President, Idoma National Forum) and Chief Enyi Ode (President-General, Omi Ny’Igede), maintained that killings by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are not restricted to Benue State where the anti-open grazing law has been enacted.
“The Fulani killings have cut across Nasarawa, Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi, Plateau, Kaduna, Edo, Ondo, Enugu and other states where the law does not exist. It must also be noted that the killings in Benue State particularly started as far back as 2010 before the anti-open grazing law was enacted by the Benue State House of Assembly late last year,” the statement read.
“We maintain that it is sheer mischief for the leaders of Miyetti Allah to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to call Governor Samuel Ortom to order, because the anti-open grazing law was not made by Ortom. It is a law of the people of Benue State through their democratically elected representatives as a last resort in their futile efforts to find peace and ensure security of lives and property in the state.”
The Benue leaders, describing Governor Ortom as peaceful and God-fearing governor who is only doing the will of his own people, wondered why Miyetti Allah have chosen to use him as a scape goat in what they described as their ethnic cleansing agenda in Benue State.
“We state emphatically that the anti-open grazing law does not stultify the culture, movement or economic interests of any person or group of persons, including members of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Association. That is why, up till now, a good number of herders, including Fulanis, Hausas and other groups with good intentions, still reside peacefully in Benue State,” the tribal leaders stated.
“The Benue State law for the prohibition of open grazing and the establishment of ranches has, indeed, been justified by the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which recently endorsed ranching and directed that there should be no more open grazing of cattle in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba states.”
The tribal leaders expressed concern over what they termed the failure of the Buhari administration to declare the Fulani herdsmen involved in the series of murders as terrorists, and to prosecute MAKH, alleging that the group is engaging in genocide and ethnic cleansing of Benue people, particularly the Tiv.
“This is because of the fact that they had invited all Fulani from around West and Central Africa to converge on Benue State and use all means available to visit mayhem on Benue people. This open threat was actualized by the killing of 73 persons in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue on January 2, 2018 and the subsequent murder of two Catholic priests and 17 worshipers at Mbalom parish in Gwer East LGA of the state last month.
“Let it be known that the killings are still ongoing, at an average of two persons per day, although most of these killings are not being reported.
“We categorically state that the position of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Association, as contained in their communiqué after an emergency meeting in Kaduna, clearly constitutes the height of lawlessness, impunity and terrorism, which must not be condoned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The tribal coalition said that the same Federal Constitution MAKH made reference to in their statement also provides that every state in the country has the right to enact laws for the good governance of her people, stressing that, “Miyetti Allah has no right whatsoever to threaten the implementation of the anti-open grazing and provision of ranches law in Benue State.”