Monday, 21 March 2016

Fulani Onslaught on Benue: How Long Can Benue Citizens Endure this Provocation?

It is almost a month today that Agatuland has been under siege and held hostage with continuous bombardment, slaughter and maiming of innocent, defenseless and unarmed natives by Fulani marauders, mercenaries, jihadists and terrorists who came in their numbers and conveyed in helicopters with state of the art weaponry for complete extermination of Agatu people.

That more than 500 innocent lives have been cut short so far and property and farm produce estimated in hundreds of millions have been wantonly destroyed by these Fulani jihadists is no longer news.

The Agatu massacre has been on the pages of virtually every newspaper headlines since the morning of Sunday, 21st February, 2016.
That the Honourable Member representing Agatu State Constituency, Hon. Sule Audu has openly walked out of the Benue State House of Assembly in protest of the onslaught of the Fulani jihadists upon his constituents without any known response from the Benue and Federal authorities is clear. Similarly, the Honourable Member representing Apa-Agatu Federal Constituency, Hon. Entonu was on air to register the plight of his constituents, calling on the Benue and Federal Government to act fast to bring an end to this avoidable carnage is amply noted.

Equally glaring was the call by the immediate past Senate President and Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District, Distinguished Senator David Mark for the government of the day to come to the rescue of his people by sending security to the besieged territories. Also not in doubt is the call by Governor Peter Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State on the federal government to act fast before Agatuland is completely laid waste as well as concerted and consistent protests on the social media by concerned Idoma sons and daughters / activists for the Benue and Federal authorities to come to the rescue of the hapless and innocent citizens of Agatuland all to no avail.

While the herdsmen were yet having a field day slaughtering both men, children, women and the elderly in Agatu without a blink by security agencies, the news broke out that these jihadists have further spread their tentacles to other  local governments in Benue State like of Apa, Buruku, Katsina-Ala, Logo, to mention a few, killing, maining and burning houses, educational as well as health institutions located in these areas and all these despicable and atrocious acts of the Fulani militias has not received any stern rebuke from the federal authorities who are the sole custodian of all security structures designed to maintain peace and order in the country. Even when the State Chief security officer, Dr. Samuel Ortom ran to the seat of power in Abuja almost weeping that his people are in a hellish situation, the powers that be still played the ostrich and mainly called for an investigation into these killings.

It is also not in doubt that well-meaning sons and daughters of Benue State, especially those at the National Assembly have not hidden their voice against this genocidal acts of the Fulanis. Just recently, the eleven House of Representative members from Benue State held a press briefing and further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to act fast before Benue is lay completely waste, but we the killings remain. From Ukemberagya to Gaambe-tiev, to Ugba, Tombo and Agatu, it has been all wailing and groaning of our dear brothers and sisters who have become endangered species in a land God has freely given to them many centuries back, and no one seems to care!
The questions that are now begging for answers from both the Buhari-led Federal Government are these:
Has the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which Buhari swore to during their oath of office been altered? If the answer to the above question is No, why then the long, deliberate silence by the nation’s chief security officer, who swore first and foremost to protect the citizens of this great country against all unwarranted attacks? The silence of President Buhari and Gen. Dambazzau, in my own reading translates to tactical approval for the ongoing onslaught and killing spree in Benue State; otherwise, I think  it is time for any sensible and caring government to deploy troops to any troubled spot in Nigeria. In a nation of sane minds, the slaughter of one innocent soul is enough to arouse the attention of the President of a country  not to talk of hundreds of innocent, defenseless and unarmed civilians - both children, the young, pregnant as well as nursing mothers and the very aged butchered freely with the covert support of the very government that in the first instance swore to protect its citizens against such attacks.

The allegation that the Nasarawa State government has been  giving covert, clandestine, concealed and undercover approval to the terror being unleashed on the good people of Benue State is gradually being accepted by many as true. This is because, all attacks carried out by the Fulanis on Guma, Logo, Makurdi and Agatu Local Governments over the years have been linked to Nasarawa State.  These terrorists reside in Nasarawa State, recruits and trains in Nasarawa State and launches attack and retreats back to the same Nasarawa State, yet Governor Al-Makura feigns ignorance and will not talk. It is only in Nigeria that leaders who are elected to serve and protect their subjects turn a deaf ear and blind eye when the same people who stood in scorching sun to vote for them are killed.

It is only in Nigeria that leaders in the guise of religion will care less if the opposite religion can use whatever weapon, even with State resources to annihilate the other religion all in a bid to expand and take over territories and land which for centuries have been occupied by natives of those communities. It is also only in Nigeria that a President will keep quiet and when pushed to speak just to cover up, would casually tell the world that he is about calling for an investigation into the killing of innocent and unarmed civilians by Fulani jihadists, instead of quickly sending troops to defend such defenseless civilians.

Calling for investigation when scores are being slaughtered is only seen in this country  and only a conscienceless leader could descend so low to the level of not placing any value on human blood so long as the objective of his brothers are being met.  For a president to give deaf ears and scant attention to  mass killings in his own country only to decry the lost of less than twenty nationals of a another country is most frustrating for us in Benue State. Is it that the Fulani herdsmen would no longer have us live in our state to carryout our God-given farming occupation? If not, why the all-out war being launched on all fronts on the good people of the Benue State?
Another question begging for answer too is whether or not the continuous killings going on in Benue State can be justified on the pretence and allegation by the Fulani terrorists that Benue farmers killed their cattle, hence the federal government is keeping quiet for now so that hundred and may be thousands of innocent lives could go for the alleged stolen or killed cows? I am moved to ask this very question due to the fact that it has never been heard that a group of terrorists and jihadists from another clime could visit this type of premeditated attacks on the indigenes of a place just like that and the government will pay lip service to same as if we have no regard for human lives any longer. This is even worrisome given the fact that these attacks have been on for almost ten (10) years running and yet the government has not deem it fit to seek for a lasting solution to the blood letting and needless killings that has become a recurring decimal in our dear state.  It is left to be seen how far we in Benue can keep silent and watch while human lives are daily being wasted in their hundreds in addition to  property and agricultural produce plundered with reckless abandon., with a federal government who is acting like a mere spectator.

It is very annoying that inspite of so many calls by different groups in the country on the need for the government to act fast to curtain these ceaseless killings of Benue citizens, the best President Buhari could do as the Chief Security Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a Republic wherein the good people of this state are a part and parcel of, was a mere statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, his Special Assistant on Media to the extent ‘that President Buhari has ordered investigation into the killings in Benue State. Ordering investigation instead of ordering for deployment of troops! What callousness and wickedness!
If I may ask, at a time when innocent citizens were and are still being hacked to death and a whole Local Government is being held hostage, was it a call for investigation to be conducted into the remote and immediate causes of the said carnage that a President of a country should be contemplating or an order for deployment of the army, airforce and police personnel to bring the carnage to a halt? It was very unfortunate and quite alarming that a President who himself was an army officer and has been involved in several wars could be calling for investigation instead of sending troops to quell the crises at a time his subjects were being brutally murdered, or put differently, will Buhari also keep quiet if Daura, his home town in Katsina State was under this kind of unwarranted and unprovoked attacked?
That the terrorists were airlifted to Agatu in a helicopter leaves much to be desired? Whose helicopter did they use to transport the mercenaries and weaponry freely being unleashed on the hapless Agatu people and why have they been left to carry on as if there was no government in place? My take on this is that, so long as the Fulani marauders in the guise of herdsmen achieve their sole aim of land confiscation and forceful ejection of the indigenes of Benue State, President Buhari will simply sit aloof and watch while the blood of innocent civilians keep flowing ceaseless every day in Benue State and other parts of the Middle-Belt region of Nigeria. To many Fulani leaders including the President, the end justifies the means-  chikena.

I am of the view that terrorism, whether carried out in Borno, Adamawa, Katsina, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano or in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria is bad enough and deserves full and fast response from the government of this country. No responsible government in the world watch the other way and turns a deaf ear at a time of the type of emergency we currently have in Benue State. The death of a loved one, even when it’s just a single loved one for that matter is most painful and touching, not to talk of hundreds of innocent children, mothers and the aged killed without any single government response in a country where we have thousands of trained military and Mobile police men lying waste in various barracks and military formations in the country.

I wish to state without any equivocation and fear of contradiction here that much as the good people of Benue State respect the rights of Fulani herdsmen to graze on their land, it is incumbent on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency call a conference to iron out the issues that have been leading to frequent skirmishes between farmers and herdsmen, particularly in North-Central Nigeria. Every one we agree with me that both cattle rearing and other forms of agricultural production are equally important to the sustenance and well-being of the country, but no farmer will sit idly by and watch his farm crops destroyed by cattle and most times under the careful supervision of the very man leading the cattle for grazing.

It has been confirmed severally that Fulani herdsmen have no modicum of regard or respect for their hosts as they come to such community well-armed with latest weapons ready for a show-down. The Fulani’s ideology that all land belongs to God is a very big misconception and a lie. Indeed all land belongs to the Most High God but I am sure He must have seen the extreme wickedness of the Fulanis and the weirdness and callousness inherent in man before allocating a portion of land to different groups of people all over the world many millennium back. I am sure God in his infinite wisdom carried out this distributive task all in a bid to avoid present challenges being faced in Nigeria and other climes by the activities of this incendiary herdsmen who could be so callous and throw away every caution at the slightest provocation.
It is wrong for the illiterate Fulani land grappers to assert that all land belong to God – that is a deceit and a lie doom to fail. All should know that much as the Fulani man values his cow and sees himself as prospecting for success, in same manner do the farmers see themselves as doing business and trying to feed the teeming population of this country and so cannot sit idly and watch cows destroy his farm produce under the careful supervision of men who are of age to know the damage their cows have been doing and are still doing to peoples farms. As it presently stands, Fulani herdsmen have launched an all-out genocidal war against most local government areas of Benue State, killing, maiming and burning down all buildings in sight and with brazen boldness they then settle permanently in such ravaged communities and supervise their cows feeding fat on their victims farms. I don’t know how any sane government can keep quiet and watch this kind of atrocity persist.

Most often times, apart from intentional destruction of farm crops, these herdsmen rape our women and mothers before slicing them into pieces and when the community dare to complain, they are visited with much more wanton calamity by the same Fulani herdsmen who at any given provocation will hire mercenaries even from neighbouring Niger and Chad Republic to come to their aid. Except the government wakes up to its responsibility and do the needful by establishing cattle ranches with commensurate compensation to the owners of such land with a view to settling these herdsmen in a particular location to avoid their wanton and most often provocative activities, it won’t be long virtually every part of the Middle-belt region will be thrown into crisis.

The present administration touted diversification from oil dependence to agriculture is left to be seen with the heinous activities of the Fulani militias who are out on a full scale domination struggle of the green region of this country. From Kaduna to Plateau, Adamawa to Taraba, Nasarawa to Benue, Enugu to Ebonyi, Delta to Rivers, Abia to Imo and in all South-western states, farmers have become endangered species as they fear for their lives should these Fulani jihadists meet them in their farms. The story has not been palatable at all and I seriously fear for the future of Nigeria as a country if the government keep paying lip service to these unprovoked and unwarranted onslaughts by the Fulanis whose origin we seriously suspect is questionable, as some of them are said to be nationals of Niger, Chad, Senegal and other African countries in search of green grasses for their cows. The country may dearly pay for the activities of cattle rearers, as in no distant future, the country shall be engulfed in an avoidable famine which  I am sure will serve no one any good. Not even the Fulani terrorists can survive for too long without food, the very food they would not have us produce again. Time is running out and our patience is being over-stretched. The hour to act to ranch these Fulani nomadic is now. Playing politics with this serious issue I think is both detrimental to the immediate victims and to Nigerians in Nigeria.
In conclusion, I wish to state that it is most uncharitable for a country’s leader to sleep while a whole state that produces about 40 percent of agricultural produce in the country  burns – that is an inexcusable abdication and renunciation of duty and is highly condemnable, hence I strongly feel the ongoing Benue inversion by Fulanis  should be condemned by every well meaning and loving citizen of this great nation. Soldiers should be permanently stationed in all communities of Benue State for now so that peace and normalcy can be restored again. Giving the Fulani terrorists the space of time they  have been given to unleash this untold and incalculable destruction on the good and hospitable people of Benue is tantamount to  an open cheque freely endorsed by someone somewhere to teach the Benue people a lesson. May we know that an injury to one is an injury to all; keeping quiet today while some local councils in Benue State are gradually being laid waste by sponsored terrorists is very dangerous and a signal that these Jihadists can continue their expansionists war even to the Atlantic ocean and none would raise an eye-brow. I wholly condemn the carnage presently on in the Middle Belt region, particularly Benue and hereby call on both the Nasarawa and Federal Government to act fast and put paid to the belief that the killing in Benue is political.
The time to act is now!

Obeya E.A.
FCT, Abuja

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