FULL PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE MOVEMENT AGAINST FULANI OCCUPATION (MAFO) RALLY HELD ON THE 23RD MARCH 2016, AT THE COOLOFF PARK, MAKURDI
Gentlemen of the press, All concerned indigenes here present, friends of Benue, ladies and gentlemen. We are here today representing our ancestors who are too dead to speak. We came representing our fathers who are too weak in the IDP camps to come. We also represent our mothers who are grieving the loss of our loved ones torn from our arms from cruel mercenaries in the coloring of Fulani herdsmen.
We came to condemn the mindless, barbaric and deliberate killing of Benue indigenes under the watch of a democratic regime that swore on oath to protect lives and properties of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Benue Dialogue observed as follows. 1. Fulani romance with Benue communities assumed a conflict dimension in 1990 and the conflict has continued to grow in its intensity with blood and destruction in its trail.
TIMELINE OF ATTACKS ON BENUE STATE FROM 2013 – 2016 AS REPORTED BY THE MEDIA HOUSES.
i. April 23 2013. 10 farmers killed in an attack on Mbasenge community in Guma LGA by suspected herdsmen.
ii. May 7, 2013. 47 mourners gunned down in Agatu while burying two policemen killed the Tuesday before in Nassarawa.
iii. May 14, 2013. Over 200 herdsmen surround Ekwo-Okpanchenyi, Agatu LGA killing 40 locals.
iv. July 5, 2013. 20 people were killed in a conflict between Tiv farmers & herdsmen at Nzorov,Guma LGA, Benue state.
v. July 28, 2013. in retaliation to the killing of 112 cows, herdsmen invade 2 villages in Agatu LGA killing 8 villagers.
vi. November 7, 2013. Attackers strike at Ikpele & Okpopolo communities killing 7 and displacing over 6000 inhabitants.
vii. Nov 9, 2013. 36 locals killed and 7 villages overrun in an outbreak of fighting between herdsmen & locals in Agatu LGA.
viii. Nov 20, 2013. Attack on communities in Guma LGA, killing 22 locals and destroying properties worth millions of naira.
ix. Jan 20 2014. Gunmen attack Agatu LGA, killing 5 soldiers and 7 civilians.
x. Jan 20, 2014. Attack on Adeke village. Locals put up a fight; 3 dead.
xi. 20-21 Feb 2014. Herdsmen attack Gwer West LGA. 35 persons killed. 80,000 displaced. 6 Council Wards Sacked.
xii. Feb 24, 2014. Attack on a Tiv community along Naka road, Makurdi, killing 8 people.
xiii. March 6, 2014. 30 killed in Kwande, Katsina/Ala and Logo LGAs by attackers dressed in military uniforms. 6 villages sacked.
xiv. March 12, 2014. Raid on Ukpam village of Mbabaai in Guma LGA. 28 persons killed. Yam barns and farms burnt.
xv. March 10, 2014. Former Governor Suswam’s convoy attacked by herdsmen at Umenger. He and convoy manage an escape.
xvi. March 12, 2014. Herdsmen attack Suswam’s village in Logo LGA. 22 slaughtered. Entire village sacked.
xvii. March 23, 2014. 25 killed and over 50 injured by herdsmen said to be bearing sophisticated weapons in Gbajimba, Guma LGA.
xviii. March 25, 2014. Police recover 7 corpses following an attack on Agena village by Herdsmen.
xix. March 29, 2014. Herdsmen attack 4 villages in Agatu LGA. 19 people killed, 15 others abducted.
xx. March 29, 2014. Suspected use of chemical weapons on Shengev community in Gwer West LGA leaving 15 people dead.
xxi. March 30, 2014. 19 locals killed and 15 abducted in Agatu LGA.
xxii. April 10, 2014. Over 100 herdsmen attacked 4 villages in Ukemberaga/Tswarev ward of Logo LG, 6 killed,Properties lost.
xxiii. April 15, 2014. Attack on Obagaji, Headquarters of Agatu LGA, 12 youths killed.
xxiv. September 10, 2014. Herdsmen attacked five villages in Ogbadibo LGA leaving scores dead.
xxv. January 27, 2015. 17 persons killed in attacks on Abugbe, Okoklo, Ogwule & Ocholoyan in Agatu LGA by herdsmen.
xxvi. January 30, 2015. Over 100 attackers stormed 5 villages in Logo LGA, killing 9 persons in the attack.
xxvii. March 15, 2015. Egba village in Agatu LGA sacked by herdsmen,over 90 locals, including women and children killed.
xxviii. April 27, 2015. 28 persons killed by herdsmen in attack on 3 villages at Mbadwem, Guma LGA; houses and farmlands razed.
xxix. May 11, 2015. Ikyoawen community in Turan Kwande LGA invaded by herdsmen. 5 persons killed & 8 others wounded.
xxx. May 24, 2015. 100 killed in an attack by herdsmen in villages &refugee camps at Ukura, Gafa, Per and Tse-Gusa, Logo LGA.
xxxi. July 7, 2015. 1 local killed and several others injured following an attack on mourners in Imande Bebeshi in Kwande LGA.
xxxii. November 5, 2015. 12 persons killed, 25 others injured in Buruku LGA following an attack by suspected herdsmen.
xxxiii. Feb 8, 2016. 10 killed and over 300 displaced in clash between herdsmen and farmers at Tor-Anyiin and Tor-Ataan in Buruku LGA.
xxxiv. Feb 29, 2016. Over 500 locals killed and 7000 displaced in an attack on Agatu LGA by fulani herdsmen.
xxxv. March 9, 2016. 8 residents killed by herdsmen in attacks on Ngorukgan, Tse Chia, Deghkia and Nhumbe in Logo LGA.
xxxvi. March 11, 2016. Attack on Convoy of Senator David Mark by suspected herdsmen in Agatu LGA. No casualty recorded.
xxxvii. March 13, 2016. 6 people including an APC youth leader killed by herdsmen in an attack on Tarkaa LGA.
2. The Benue Dialogue also observed that: i.The Federal Government failed to send military response to affected Benue communities thereby leaving our people under guillotine of Fulani terrorists who satisfied their thirst for blood by the cold and callous murder of over one thousand people across Benue communities of Agatu, Buruku, Logo, Kwande,Tarka, Gwer, Guma, Gwer West with over ten Thousand people taking refuge in about four IDP camps within Benue State.
ii. This invading terrorists did not only destroy houses, farm produces and displaced people, they have gone ahead to occupy our communities with viable cattle grazing on our farmlands under the protection of terrorist carrying assault military grade weapons.
iii. The recent escalation of violence across Benue communities which saw a swelling of our IDP camps recorded the first government response about half a month afterwards.
iv. Uptil the time of this press conference, neither the President, the Chief of Army Staff, the Governor nor neither the Inspector General of Police has visited any of these troubled spots for assessment or succor to the affected.
v. We sense a carefully orchestrated and systematically arranged plot to annihilate Benue people, a plot which has the backing of government that will deploy a task force to protect cattle and record its success as against its citizens.
vi. The handful of military personnel present at the crisis theatre have orders not to engage the insurgents and messengers of death occupying our lands.
vii. With Governor Tanko Al Makura of Nassarawa State dismissing the attack on Benue as mere skirmishes and not a genocide, it clearly indicates that he knows what the World need to hear about especially with his earlier claims that the attacks of the 2014 were carried out by international hunters.
viii. The Inspector General of Police Mr Solomon Arase claiming that the number of casualty figures of 300 dead was exaggerated even though he never went to any of the affected areas. We believe it is time for Benue people to rise up and assert their right to life and peaceful existence through advocacy, civil action and other peaceful means necessary.
ix. We hold strongly that the right to life is a universal gift of God that no race or tribe lays a higher claim to it.
We hereby demand the following;
1. That the Federal government deploys with immediate effect, troops to Agatu, Buruku, Guma, Tarka, Kwande, Logo, Gwer, Gwer West LGAs of Benue State not to protect cattle but to engage and flush out all terrorists elements so that our people can go back to their farming activities and avert an impending food crisis looming the state.
2. That the representatives of Mayatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who admitted to killings in Agatu on the excuse that the Agatu people killed 10,000 of their cows, he should be arrested and prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
3. That all Fulani herdsmen be promptly disarmed by the Federal Government and checks be carried out on cattle movement to ensure weapons are not transported with the cattles.
4. Benue people hereby hold that we oppose any law or suggestion of grazing reserves and grazing routes in our communities. We have farmlands and not grazing reserves as farmers and cattle can never have a harmonious marriage.
5. In protest for the killing of our people in exchange for cattle welfare, we strongly urge Benue people to boycott the consumption of beef either for daily protein, festivities or gifts to political ally’s and friends.
6. We demand that the Benue State House of Assembly attend urgently to a bill that outlaws free grazing cattle as they do the goats on our streets.
7. We also demand the full compensation by the Federal Government to victims of this crisis across the state. This will believe will help to cushion or alleviate the impact of the losses they have incurred.
We pause to commend the efforts of the National Assembly caucus from Benue State at condemning the attacks in strong terms. The last press statement by His Excellency, Gov Samuel Ortom on no grazing reserves in Benue State is also commendable.
We hold that all land belong to God and the Government but Benue State has been allotted to us and our posterity. In the event where the government fails or delays in its responsibility to protect us from external invaders, we the people of Benue State shall assert our right to life and to peaceful existence by any means necessary.
This is our watch and it shall not be said of us that we had no Benue to pass onto to our children. We demand beyond words and promises, we demand quick and decisive actions and we demand that now.
God bless Nigeria God bless Benue State
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Reviewed by Link Naija