Gyang Bere, Jos
President of Middle Belt Arise, Samuel Odumu Okpe, has declared that Nigeria is being threatened by a food crisis as a result of the unabated killings of farmers and conquest of lands by rogue Fulani Herdsmen in the region.
Okpe said that most farmers in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, Kogi, Adamawa and parts of Bauchi, Nasarawa and Niger States have been killed, while others are confined to various Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps dotted across the states.
The youth leader disclosed this on Thursday during a peace rally and march to the Plateau State House of Assembly to express the group’s displeasure at what it regards as government’s negligence in stopping the killings across the troubled region.
“The tentacles of insecurity are far reaching. The threat is grave for food production because the conflicts are in the agricultural belts of the Benue-Niger valley where food is produced not only for Nigeria but for West Africa. Farms are targeted and destroyed, farmers are killed and terror holds sway in our rural communities,” Okpe said.
“This has a natural outcome of looming food shortage. We arise and condemn the plan to dislocate our communities from their hands. The rural populations from the Middle Belt, who are mainly agrarian, now live in Internally Displaced Persons Camps with no hope of returning to their respective villages.”
He challenged the Federal Government to accelerate efforts to see that all displaced villagers are resettled and their lands returned.
Similarly, the Daffo Mangai Women Association, a woman’s group in Plateau, accused the government of abandoning their communities since they were attacked and about 30 persons killed following the visit of President Buhari to the State on March 8, 2018.
The women, who were led to the State House of Assembly by Mrs. Matawal Comfort Malan, said a food crisis is brewing in Plateau State as famers are being killed on daily basis by herdsmen and their lands seized.
“Adequate security should be supplied to the affected communities and the same strategy employed to guard farmers in the northeast and elsewhere on their farms should be employed to enable our farmers pickup economically,” said Malan.
“The 2018 rainy season has commenced; any further delay in ensuring that these villagers return to their ancestral homes and farmlands would create severe food shortages and debilitating poverty. Sufficient food, clothing and other necessities of life should be urgently supplied to us to reduce our suffering and enable us face life with ease.”
Mrs. Malan explained that 1017 houses were razed down, livestock, household appliances, vehicles, water pumping machines, electrical generating sets, assorted foodstuff and cash sums of money and valuables worth millions of naira were destroyed and looted by the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
She lamented that thousands of school children were out of school, losing study time due to insecurity and facing threats of being dragged into various social vices, with government not making efforts to address the situation.
Malan mebtioned “the devastating carnage that occurred between January 24 to March 8, 2018, which started from Nghakudung and spread to 7 villages, leading to 32 deaths, 10 severe injuries, while 7, 000 persons were displaced in 9 villages and 10 persons are still missing up to date.
“Presently, about 7,000 persons comprising of women, children and the aged are faced with the most threatening state of healthcare, destitution, poverty, hunger and food insecurity as a result of the violent displacement during the attacks.”
Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Peter Azi, who received the two groups at the Assembly complex in Jos, said the State sympathises with aims of groups, and vowed to submit their petition to the appropriate authorities and ensure that their recommendations are implemented.