Monday, 6 July 2015

Hussain Obaro: Authorities Must Stop Fulani-Agatu War In #Benue State

Fulani-Agatu war — the two-year-long conflict between two once-peaceful communities in Benue state that keeps taking lives, displacing people and leaving them penniless.



“The animosity, lack of respect for the sanctity of human life, the open display of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, and the madness that has been shown by these two Benue communities is sad and unfortunate”

— “The inability of the Benue state government to effectively put measures in place at accommodating, pacifying and carrying both sides only added more fuel to an already raging fire”

— “There is urgent need for the governments of Benue and Kogi states to liaise with the federal government as quickly as possible with the aim of halting this wanton destruction of lives and properties”

What started as a feud over farm and pasture lands and fish ponds between the Fulani-dominated Ologba and Agatu-dominated Egba communities in Agatu local government area of Benue state has metamorphosed in a full-scale war within two years. The two communities had previously lived together in piece as brethren for many years.

Agatu people, who are predominantly farmers, initially raised the alarm over the manner in which some Fulani settlers regularly invaded their farm lands, destroying and damaging both food and cash crops, all in the name of seeking pastures for their cattle. 

The inability of the Benue state government to effectively put measures in place at accommodating, pacifying and carrying both sides only added more fuel to an already raging fire. The neighbours eventually threw decorum and sanity into the wind and took the law into their own hands. Series of attacks and reprisal attacks have resulted in rivers of blood that continue to flow unabated. 

Despite the intervention of leaders of the warring ethnic groups, the crisis, which has already claimed the lives of over 400 men, women and children, has resulted in the destruction of properties worth millions of naira.

The animosity, lack of respect for the sanctity of human life, the open display of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, and the madness that has been shown by these two Benue communities is sad and unfortunate. Reports of many Agatus being hacked to death in their farms, pregnant women being killed by the Fulani fighters, and the killing of livestock, women and Fulani children by the Agatu fighters are illustrating the bloodshed between the neighbours.

 Hundreds of Agatus fleeing their homes that were raised and destroyed. The Fulanis are also abandoning their place of residence, that have turned into a battlefield, to seek cover and peaceful abode in nearby Bagana, a community situated in Omala LGA of Kogi state.

Just as the governments of Benue and Kogi states begun arrangements to return the Fulani and Agatu peoples-turned-refugees in their own country, and we thought peace was gradually returning to their homes, another round of crisis ensued. This time around it was some Agatu youths who drew the first blood. This recent attack saw the battleground shift from Benue to Omala in Kogi state, to where the displaced Fulanis, Agatus, and residents of Bagana took refuge. Many lives were lost and properties were destroyed.

The nearby Abejukolo, headquarters of Omala LGA of Kogi state, has since become a centre of internally displaced persons. Not minding their refugee status, a their stay in the past days could be characterized by the expression “cold war”, with reports of mutilated and decomposing bodies seen in several bushes and farmlands.

There is urgent need for the governments of Benue and Kogi states to liaise with the federal government as quickly as possible with the aim of halting this wanton destruction of lives and properties, and deliberate and all-inclusives measure put in place to end to these killings once and for all.



Hussain Obaro is a writer, motivational speaker and public affairs commentator from Ilorin, Kwara state.





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