From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Worried by the incessant invasion of their communities and the attendant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has called on people of the region to rise up and defend themselves.
The regional group, which accused government of abandoning their constitutional responsibility of defending them or seeming complicity, resolved that an attack on any of the communities would be met with attendant response and consequences.
It also resolved that an attack on any of its communities would, henceforth, be considered as an attack on all Communities in the Middle Belt Region with the attendant responses and consequences.
MBF took the position after a two-day meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
It also called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to return displaced communities to their ancestral lands as their territories cannot be taken by force.
According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed its National President, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the forum lamented that the incessant invasions by Fulani militia on several communities across the Middle Belt region in particular, and other parts of the country in general, have assumed genocidal/ethnic cleansing scale.
“These attacks have left in their wake mind-boggling massacres and devastations in our communities and displacement of indigenous Peoples to various Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps. NEC calls on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to return displaced communities to their ancestral lands, given the fact that territory can no longer be acquired in the 21st century by the use of force. NEC also calls on the government to identify all IDPs in the Middle Belt Region and provide relief materials for them.
“NEC calls on the Federal Government to identify, apprehend and bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity to justice so as to serve as a deterrent to others. Consequently, NEC calls on the government to set up an agency to be called the Middle Belt Development Commission (MBDC) to serve as an intervention agency in addressing the challenges caused by the activities of these terrorists
“That many schools and places of worship in the Middle Belt region have remained closed due to the criminal activities of these Fulani kidnappers and bandits. NEC regrets that many school children and other hapless citizens are still languishing in the dens of kidnappers. NEC further appeals to the government to take urgent steps to rescue those in captivity.
“The MBF insists that the Federal Government must come clean and yield to the demand by the Nigerian public to unveil the identities of the sponsors of Boko Haram, especially the 400 Bureau de change operators as identified by the UAE authorities.
“NEC finds worrisome, given the report by the UN that the Federal Government is secretly engaged in negotiations tagged ‘Sulhu’ with Boko Haram terrorists through which the Federal Government is allegedly offering monetary rewards to insurgents and other criminals.
“Consequently, NEC is totally opposed to this project and also opposed to any form of amnesty to insurgents and other terror groups who have their hands dripping with blood. NEC is also vehemently opposed to any planned recruitment of these so called repentant terrorists into the national security architecture.
NEC acknowledges and commends Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state for his resilient stance in the defence of the rights of the Benue people and for his courage and foresight in making the anti-open grazing law even in the face of threats by Miyetti Allah and those other forces that seek to Fulanise and enslave the Benue people and the rest of the Middle Belt. It is for his foresight that today, the entire Southern Nigeria has adopted his position based on the validity of his position.
“By the same token, NEC commends Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for his consistent struggle for the Rule of Law and true Federalism, particularly the recent judgment of the Federal High Court on the Value Added Tax (VAT) which has opened the door for the commencement of the struggle for Restructuring of Nigeria.”
This is as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) accused the government of abandoning the remaining 31 students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, with their abductors going to three months.
CAN chairman of the Kaduna State branche, Rev Joseph Hayab, in a statement, yesterday, described the silence about the abducted children as bad and condemnable.
“These children were taken away from their school on 5th July 2021. It is 67 days today and our leaders are silent as if all is well when truly all is not well.
“How can it be well when parents of these 31 children have not known sleep for these 67 days? Any caring leader will also not sleep. These children should be released or rescue without delay.”
“We all know that Kaduna State Government closed down schools for over a month claiming that the military will go after bandits and again asked all schools to reopen without bringing back our children.
“What happens with the military exercise that leads to the closure of schools? Was it just another drama to divert the attention of parents and those sympathizing with the parents from the real situation?