By Godwin Tsa and Chukwudi Nweje
The Association of Idoma Lawyers yesterday condemned the spate of killings of the people of Benue State by the Fulani herdsmen, calling it genocide. It also chided President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing him of indifferent attitude.
The group expressed its concern in a statement issued in Abuja and jointly signed by its patron, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) and President, Dr. J. Y Musa, respectively.
The group noted that the heart-wrenching massacre and pogrom (and still ongoing) of December 31, 2017, against the defenceless people of the two Local Government Areas of Guma and Logo in Benue State appears to be the attainment of a crescendo in the rhythm of murderous expansionist glee of the genocidal tribe of Fulani militias masquerading as herdsmen.
It added that the killings commenced on a an extermination scale on February, 2013, first, against the sedentary and predominantly agrarian Agatus (of Idoma extraction), and spreading, thereafter, like a wildfire to Mbasenger community in Guma Local Government Area in April, 2013, with the killing of 10 defenceless farmers in one day, at the first instance, on that scale.
The statement reads in part: “The year 2013 was like a set time for the Fulani militias to unleash their murderous mayhem of expansionist agenda on the people of Benue. Thus, like a spread of diffusive substance, subsequently, it has been from one event of gory spree of rampaging killings to another across the length and breadth of Benue State, on a scale hardly obtainable in modern warring situation between two countries. A Timeline of the series of massacre by the Fulani militias masquerading as herdsmen in Benue State would help to bring this narrative in a proper perspective.”
The group, however, listed previous attacks on Benue by the fulani herdsmen since 2013.
Specifically, the group highlighted the attacks in recent time. “January 24, 2017 – 15 persons were killed by rampaging Fulani herdsmen, who attacked farmers in Ipiga village in Ohimini LGA of Benue State.
“March 2, 2017 – No fewer than 10 persons were killed in a renewed hostility between herdsmen and farmers in Mbahimin community, Gwer East LGA of Benue State.
“March 11, 2017 – Seven people were killed when herdsmen attacked a community, Mkgovur village, in Buruku LGA of Benue State.
“May 8, 2017 – Three persons were confirmed killed by herdsmen in TseAkaa village Ugondo Mbamar District of Logo LGA of Benue State.
“May 13, 2017 – Less than one week after many people were killed by herdsmen in three communities of Logo LGA of Benue State, armed herdsmen struck again on May 13 killing eight more people.
“December 31, 2017 and January 2, 2018- 50 persons, including seven members of the Benue State Livestock Guards have been killed in fresh attacks on Benue communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen after they invaded Gaambe Tiev, Ayilamo and Turanau in Logo LGA as well as Umenger, tse-Akor and Tomatar near Tse –Abi in Nongov District of Guma LGA.”
According to the group, the pattern of killing and wanton destruction of property which have gone on unabated and received no serious response from either the state (initially) or Federal government other than indifference, political rhetoric and platitudes despite several attempts by the affected communities to get the government to act in their defence, but to no avail.
“In what appeared to be a well-orchestrated and carefully planned warfare strategy of genocidal agenda, the herdsmen were to later morph into sophisticatedly armed herdsmen, defiling the presence of government security for most time, to embark on mass killing and wanton destruction of property. “The scale of attack on December 31, 2017, in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State followed a carefully planned pattern with a precedent dating back to January, 2016, in which conservative estimate of about 500 persons were killed by the rampaging herdsmen.”