MR. PRESIDENT, STOP KILLINGS AND DESTRUCTION OF FARMS IN BENUE

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After the people of Benue State gave President Bola Tinubu massive support in the Presidential Election in 2023, he seems to have suddenly abandoned the people, their farmland and farm produce to criminal plundering by herdsmen and other criminal elements.

We had noted last year on this platform with grave concerns about the unrelenting gruesome killings and criminal invasion of peasant communities by suspected herders in the last days of former President Buhari. For the eight years of that administration, the state never enjoyed peace. In fact, we emphasized the fact that, the last days of that government held no peace, reprieve or consolation for the people of Nigeria at all.

When the people of the state gave their support to Governor Alia and President Tinubu, it was in the firm hope that the then incoming president, Tinubu, would protect the people who have been under the siege of suspected herders. But the way things are at the moment, the president has not showed any commitment to protecting the people at all. This, to say the least, is most unfortunate. Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna (especially Southern Kaduna), Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger State, katsina, Zamfara, Taraba, etc, are among the states that are still being badly affected.

We then noted specifically that for the people of Benue State, they would never forget in a hurry how the government of Buhari looked the other way while killer herders killed, maimed and plundered.

Currently, gruesome killings, destruction of farm produce, kidnappings, invasion of villages and all manner of abominable crimes are going on in Apa, Agatu and parts of Otukpo and Ohimini Local Government Areas. Up to now, President Tinubu has not deemed it fit to make any serious statement let alone intervene.

Dozens of people are being killed on their farms. Suspected criminal herders have taken over farms and food warehouses and carted them away for their cattle to eat and destroy. The people cannot go to their farms and rivers; they do not have social freedom to travel to markets and neighbouring communities. Thousands are huddled at IDP camps without medical support or help from NEMA or Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs whatsoever. This is very wrong.

Earlier, there were reports that more than 46 were reportedly killed by invading suspected herders who attacked sporadically part of Otukpo, Umogidi, Enetekpa Adoka district of Otukpo Local Government Area of the state. A traditional chief was killed, the son of Otukpo Local Government chairman was among those killed. Schools have shot down, social activities have been grounded and medical facilities have been overwhelmed.

The paramount ruler of the Idoma Kingdom, Agaba-Idu Elaigwu Odogbo Obagaji John, the Och’Idoma and Chairman of Idoma Area Traditional Council, as well as political leaders of the area have been making desperate calls but all to no avail. Once, the president described the killings going on as “communal conflicts”. This is sad.

We strongly condemn the ongoing killings in Benue and any part of the country and demand immediate halt. President Tinubu should rise up to the occasion and do the needful. The security agencies should also rise up above political, ethnic and religious sentiments and deal with the situation squarely. The people of Benue, their farms and properties need protection from well armed herders who are out against defenceless farmers, women and children, as well as the aged.

We therefore call on President Tinubu to take a decisive action to end the carnage going on in Benue State.