Tuesday, 31 January 2017

(MAFO) PRESS STATEMENT: ON THE AGATU PEACE AGREEMENT AND SECURITY IN BENUE STATE


GREETINGS
We want to use this medium to draw the world’s attention to the recent events in Agatu particularly the Agreements ceding a portion of Agatu to Falani herdsmen for the purpose of grazing area and grazing routes, and to make clear our position on this worrisome development.



The ugly acts of killings, destruction and occupation visited upon the Agatu people of Benue State in the words of the country rep of UNCHR can only be compared to Rwanda. To date, the people of Agatu are yet to recover from the losses of their dead loved ones, farmlands and ancestral homes. Every efforts to get the federal and state government to condemn this genocide, restore security and carry out rehabilitation, reconstruction and compensation has been waved aside.

Our observation
In our opinion, the peace deal imposed by Governor Samuel Ortom and his Nassarawa counter part Gov. Almakura lacks the capacity to bring about the much needed peace and restitution to Agatu because the necessary foundation for sustainable peace has not been laid.

We stand to condemn that agreement and urge all stakeholders and the people of Agatu to disregard it.

The agreement is a clear display of the desperation of Fulani herdsmen particularly glass house dwelling owners of the cattle to further their economic political and religious expansion agenda in total disregard for morality, equity and justice. It is an obvious case of political intimidation, coercion and exploitation using our political and traditional authorities to achieve such selfish aim.

We hereby state that the political and sinister creation of the concept of indigenous or resident Fulani is totally unacceptable and unapplicable in Benue State. It is on record that no Benue indigene no matter the virtue of long stay can own land or graze his pigs in Kano or Kastina State or assume the status of indigene in such state. No Fulani person is an indigene of Benue as their relationship is that of nomads who come and go. The concept of indigenous or resident Fulani will only serve as a landing field and stronghold to the murderous elements that have threatened the peace, security and economy future of nothing less than 15 out of the 23 local government areas of Benue State, many of which are still under practical occupation by fulani’s.

OUR CONCERNS
We find the following attendant situation rather disturbing.
The sudden twist in policy by the Benue State Government whose stand has been on ranching as solution to this crisis.
The idea of a Fulani man in the person of major Umar as the military commander of Agatu. This blatantly contradicts the legal principle of a man not being a judge in a case that involves him. This make equity, fairness and justice practically impossible as he is configured to put the interest of his people first.
The undemocratic nature of the agreement as expressed in the rejection by Agatu people and consequent petition to the National Assembly. It is important to note that all house of assembly members, senator representing the zone or the paramount ruler of Idoma were all left out of the agreement. It therefore does not reflect the aspirations of the people of Agatu and therefore should be disregarded and upturned as null and void.
The persistent meddling in the affairs of Benue State by Gov. Tanko Almakura of Nasarawa State is a cause for worry. It is clear that his interest in Benue State is not that of peace and development. His State has continued to provide a launching and retreat pad for every invasion of Agatu and other parts of Benue State by Fulani herdsmen terrorists. This is sadly in view of the fact that the approved grazing reserves in Nasarawa State have not been utilized by the Fulani’s .
The civilian joint taskforce of Benue State is headed by Alhaji Tashaku, a man with questionable integrity and allegedly wanted in Maiduguri over his links with Boko Haram. Such a character cannot be trusted with the security of lives and properties in Benue State.

Our Demands
That all Fulani element and their cattle withdraw from Agatu land until an acceptable and mutually beneficial agreement on coexistence is reaached.
Both major Umar and Alhaji Tashaku should be replaced with people of proven objectivity and integrity so as to restore confidence on the security structure.
The long neglected issue of rehabilitation reconstruction and compensation of Agatu land and people be given priority attention as pre condition for peace talks
The concept of indigenous fulani’s is injurious to the demographic and political arrangement of Benue State and should be purged out.
All stakeholders in Agatu should be brought to the table with a view of forging a more practicable and beneficial framework for engagement with Fulani people.

In conclusion, we appeal to all youths and stakeholders to maintain calm and be law abiding. We have had enough violence and break down of law and order, further violence and break down of law and order, or protest is uncalled for as it will make the pursuit of peace endless. All non violent and democratic avenues for peace and justice is being pursued and we believe that with God on our side, peace will be restored to Agatu.
Thank you.

Rev Fr Solomon Mfa
Dr. Sam Abah
Pastor Edward Dooga
Mrs. Kadoon Agbidye
Pastor David Ogbole
Gideon Nyom
Favour Enewa Adah
Barr Terfa Terrence Vembeh

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