Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A group under the aegis of MINDA Strategic Contact Group (MSCG) has said that the planned Operation Python Dance III would not have been necessary if Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, religion or political affiliation spoke with one voice against criminality.
“If we speak together as one voice in this country, we don’t need Operation Python Dance 111. Python dance is depleting the energy that should be put into fighting insurgency in the North East. As we remember the ugliness of January 2018, we must all rise up to resist its re occurrence anywhere in this country.”
The group while expressing concern over the sudden influx of large number of herdsmen into Benue State, described the development as a design to breach the peace and instigate the postponement of the 2019 general elections in Benue State and call for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
In a statement titled “To Remember is to Resist: Benue on the Eve of 2019,” the group recalled the gruesome murder of 73 Benue indigenes by herdsmen exactly one year ago as well as several other killings including that of the two Catholic priests and 17 parishioners in Mbalom.
“As we approach the eve of 2019, Benue State is in sober mood and a state of fear. The event of 1st January 2018 and several other ugly events that followed thereafter will remain unforgettable in the minds of our people, our government and the entire world. This press conference is necessitated by the philosophy that to remember is to resist.”
Reading the statement, co-chairman of the group, Prof. Tor Iorapuu, raised the alarm over the rising spate of killings allegedly linked to herdsmen in Guma, Makurdi, Logo and Ukum local government areas of the state and urged both the Federal government and security agencies to nip it in the bud.
“As we approach the eve of 2019, instances of similar patterns of killings have reportedly occurred in Guma, Makurdi, Logo and Ukum local government areas of Benue State.
“Only one week ago, law enforcement officers were reported to have arrested one herdsman with 105 herds of cattle openly grazing in the heart of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, in flagrant violation of the Anti Open-Grazing law of the state, 2017.”
The group noted that in spite of the assurances given by the military that the people had started returning to their ancestral homes, the IDP camps were still filled up with many Benue indigenes who could still not return home.
They also faulted the utterances of certain political elites within and outside the state regarding the attacks on the people of Benue, stressing that such utterances aimed at securing political capital and undermining the cultural sensibilities of the people were unfortunate.
“This behavior is suspicious and has the potential to damage the efforts of the state government, the church, security agencies, traditional councils, civil society organisations, international agencies and well-meaning citizens at ensuring that relative peace is achieved. Such public comments could be perceived as instigative and vexatious.
“It is on account of these concerns that we are calling on all the good people of Benue, the government of Benue State, the Federal Government of Nigeria, all security agencies and the international community to note that to remember is to resist. That as we remember the ugly killings and existing provocative statements, we put the world on notice to resist its recurrence in 2019 going forward.”