Farmers and traditional rulers in Benue State have called for profiling and documentation of herdsmen across the state, ahead of the influx of foreign pastoralist to the Benue valley for dry season grazing to prevent another rounds of security breaches.
The Och’Idoma and paramount ruler of the Idoma ethnic group including Agatu where hundreds of lives were lost in February this year, Elias Obekpa, made the call at the joint farmers/herdsmen security meeting convened by governor Samuel Ortom and heads of security agencies.
The state government at the end of the security meeting, raised joint committees at the state and local government levels to deal with criminal elements from both divids, while promising to visit offenders with the full weight of the law.
The Six weeks long herdsmen attacks on Agatu communities between February and March, 2016 where many lives and properties worth over N100 Billion in the attacks that cut across 13 other local government areas of the State, is the latest in the series of herdsmen violence in the Benue valley which the herdsmen blame on the killing of their colleagues and rustling of hundreds of their herds by the local farmers.
Today, many families while counting their loses, continue to grapple with the challenges of picking up the pieces of their lives.
The joint security meeting between farmers and herdsmen is regarded as preventive measures this time around, as more herdsmen begin their usual drift to the Benue valley.
The Och’Idoma who was represented by the Odejo-ka Apa, His Royal Highness, Chief John Anteyi requested that the state government and the security agencies to profile all herdsmen operating withing Benue state.
” The committee should also in its terms of reference, include the documentation of resident fulani on our land, let them be documented at all levels.
“This documentation will help us to know who is a stranger and who is a son of the land. We regard some fulani as children of the land, because some of them were born and bred here, some of them even take wives and we take their daughters as wives too. Some of them even take titles in some parts of the state too, so we see such as sons of the land, their assets and lives are on this land.
They may not cause us harm, but those who come and go can be very violent. So am suggesting that the committee should look seriously in the area of documenting resident fulanis’ in every local government area to ensure sufficient information is given about visiting fulanis’ and where such leadership fail, they should be accused of being accomplices to the visiting fulanis’ and such fulanis’ can be made to leave our land, because we see them as threats and terror on our land”.
Responding, the representatives of the Fulani herdsmen at the meeting led by Mister Garus Gololo, agree completely with the security and peace move.
” On our side, any Fulani that want to create problems in Benue state, I personally will not accept it. So we have decided they will be no problem, as we have a programme with the Miyyeti Allah in Nasarawa state to give us the names and list of anyone coming into Benue state and where they will settle down. We wanted to talk about the need for this committee, but now we are happy His Excellency, governor Samuel Ortom has constituted the peace and security committee today”.
With the commitment of the farmers and herdsmen at this meeting, profiling and surveillance is key for security agencies in the state, if the yearly attacks on Benue communities since 2011, is to be nip in the bud.