Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Ancestral leader of the Tiv nation, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, has said that if President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to fulfill his mandate of protecting lives and properties of Benue people, the people of the state may be left with no option than to train their own Army in the state to defend them.
Unongo said this during a requiem church service for the burial of 73 deceased victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks in the state. He also disclosed that a large number of Benue sons and daughters have contributed to the greatest contingents that fought wars across the world.
“Benue people have sacrificed enough blood for the unity of this country and would not allow a section of Fulani terrorists to come and kill our people in cold blood.
“I am begging Nigerians that my people cannot continue to be cannon fodder of this country. If government can’t protect us, we will mobilise and train our people into army to defend us. We are 100 per cent in support of what Governor Ortom has done. I am the spiritual leader and ancestral leader of the Tiv nation and I am saying enough is enough.”
Unongo, who is the convener and chairman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), posited that the entire people of the state are watching President Buhari and have joined in the persistent calls by Governor Samuel Ortom on the need for the Federal Government to take drastic steps to urgently address the killings and also arrest the leader of the leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hire (MAKH).
“If the Federal Government cannot stop or arrest those behind the killings, in two weeks, we shall raise an army of our own because we cannot allow people to colonise us again. We have all it takes to do that,” Unongo emphasised”.
On his part, Gen. Lawrence Onoja, who supported Unongo’s call, described the killing in the state as genocidal conspiracy against Benue people, stressing that, “this killings must not continue.”
“Some of us in 1966 fought the Nigeria war. Benue has contributed to the unity of this country, therefore If FG refuses to address the killings in Benue and if we decide to raise our army as advocated by our elders to defend ourselves, l will not mind to command that army despite my age.”
He, however, appealed to the federal government to replicate operation python dance or Fulani dance in Benue as being done in other states of the federation, while also enjoining sons and daughters of the state to rally round the governor for the successful enforcement of the anti open grazing law.
Also speaking, former member of the National Assembly, Sen. Joseph KN Waku, maintained that Benue people are known for creating peace, loved peace and honoured peace, averred that the people have endured peace for too long despite the fact that peace is the only answer and dialogue to entrench true democratic dispensation.
”It is unfortunate that someone would oppose a law that is legally enacted and begin to kill innocent people and the federal government would refused to make arrest in a quest to end the canage. This is enough provocation. Nobody has the monopoly of killing. Therefore enough is enough”.
Speaking on behalf of Benue State House of Assembly, Benjamin Adanyi regretted that president Buhari came to Benue during electioneering campaign to beg for votes and was overwhelmingly voted for by the Benue people and after he was voted into power, his brothers began to kill Benue people with reckless abandon.
Former governor of Benue state, Sen. George Akume, lamented that the primary aim of government was to protect lives of the citizenry, even as he appealed to the FG under President Buhari to proscribe the faction of the Miyietti Allah Kautal Hire as a terrorists group because their actions are treasonable as only terriorst that killed.
Akume, however, appealed to Benue communities not to take the laws into their hands but embrace peace and reconciliation as well as continue to pray together as one indivisible family to over come the present situation.
Representative of the United Nations, Dr. Mathins Ejibike, commiserated with the government and people of the state for the loss of their loved ones saying that what is happening in Benue demand international attention.
“We want an enlightened approach to this matter. We should continue to pray that these kind of killings shoud be the last in the Benue state.
He disclosed that the UN had received a report that over 20,000 refugees were already in camp and promised that they shall look into their plight.
In his speech, the paramount ruler of Tiv nations, the Tor Tiv, who described the situation in Benue as ‘ethnic cleansing agenda,’ lamented that the Tiv people who are residing in Nasarawa and Taraba states were being murdered by the herdsmen on a daily basis since the Benue killings began.
“There is ethnic cleansing agenda going on in Benue. We must put an end to these killings. This is the 47th time that Fulanis would attack the Benue people and kill them mercilessly”
He urged the President to ride up as man of integrity to arrest the situation, maintaining that the people of Benue voted massively for him and so he must not allow the Benue people to be completely killed before his tenure ends.
While thanking those who came from other states to console Benue people Tor To prayed that such mindless and heinous killings should never happen again in the state.
He also encouraged governor Ortom never to be weighed down by the herders attacks but continue to do the needful in his bid to bring peace and tranquility to the state, assuring that the entire Benue traditional rulers are solemnly behind the governor.
In his remark, Governor Samuel Ortom said that this is the most heartless killings in Benue, saying the herdsmen came, killed and destroyed homes and properties.
” If the herdsmen think that the killing of our people would make us stop the enforcement of the law, they have failed. We will not be deterred by their thinking because “I am ready to pay the supreme price” for the implementation of the anti open grazing. I will continue and insist on the calls for the arrest of the factional leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH).
Also speaking, CAN chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Akpe Leva commended governor Ortom for the charisma and love to die with Benue having passed the anti open grazing Law, adding that the spirit of the departed ones and the God of Benue will rise up to torment suspected fulani terrorists who have brought tears and sorrows.
One of the survivor, Akaatenger Azinga, said that he was in his house sleeping with his wife when the attackers came and knocked at the door and his wife went to the door, only for her to be captured and slaughtered by the terrorists.
“I heard my wife screem because they came in the dead of the night and when l went to rescue my wife, I discovered that they slaughtered her and next thing, they started chasing me, macetting me but l escaped narrowly to a nearby bush”