Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Commander of Benue State Livestock Guard, Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku, has blamed the ongoing Nigeria Army Exercise Ayem Akpatuma (‘Cat Race’) in the State for the current influx of the Fulani Herdsmen into the state.
Tershaku, who stated this in a chat with newsmen at the weekend, lamented that the herdsmen with their cattle were now occupying larger parts of Benue communities that had been deserted by the locals as a result of the incessant invasion, despite the presence of police special forces and the military.
He explained that before the commencement of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma in the State by Nigerian Army, Livestock Guards under his leadership were able to identify and check the activities of herdsmen who were not comfortable with the anti open grazing law and bent on causing unrest.
“Those set of herdsmen were leaving the state before Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) came out publicly to oppose the implementation of the grazing law using the power that be,” Tershaku said.
Tershaku alleged that powerful opposition politicians in Nigeria have decided to team up with the leadership of MAKH to cause confusion and discredit what governor Samuel Ortom had done to protect his people and other Nigerians.
“Politicians in Nigeria are more dangerous, worse than HIV and AIDS. This is because HIV and AIDS kills you once and for all, but Nigerian politicians will first condemn you, kill you and destroy your soul that nothing would ever remain out of you,” he said.
“Now they have tagged me as one of the wanted Boko Haram leaders who escaped and is now heading livestock guard in Benue. Let me put the record straight: l have no links with Boko Haram. I was in Bauchi State doing my lawful business before the Nigerian Police authority called me to come to my State and take up this appointment as coordinator of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) at the heart of the Fulani/Farmer crisis in Benue and Nasarawa States.”
The CJTF was formed in 2013 by both the Federal Government and Benue and Nasarawa States under the direct supervision of the Nigerian Police to help foster peace and reconciliation between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the two states.
“In 2013, there was a serious crisis in Benue state, so the Federal Government and the two states, to find a solution, called a meeting in Government House, Makurdi, where they formed the CJTF, comprising Fulani, Tiv Agatu, and representatives of both Federal and the two State governments,” he explained.
“National Chairman of Miyetti Allah, under the national leadership of Alhaji Girowa, was invited and the then DIG Operation Mike Zukumo chaired the meeting,” he said.
Tershaku noted that when Governor Samuel Ortom assumed office as Governor of the State and enacted the law, the body was disbanded and members dissolved into the Livestock Guards, which was also established by law.
“I was doing the job which was legally given to me by the police to the best of my ability with my team, but the enemies of progress had gone to level unfounded allegations against me that l am commanding a militia group and collecting arms from government to give individuals and groups in the state.
He said the allegation had made Benue a point of focus, a development which made the Federal Government to deploy the military to the state with the sole aim of disarming the supposed armed Livestock Guards.
“This allegation has shifted all eyes on the Guard and they have gone to bring the Military. The Military have now invited more herdsmen into Benue,” he said. “They are going about attacking communities, killing innocent people and eating up farmers’ crops without being arrested.”