•Demands upgrade of security in hinterlands
The Lawyers Alert, a non-governmental organization committed to defense of human rights, has warned that herdsmen killings in Benue state and other parts of rural Nigeria is increasingly patterned after the murderous Boko Haram terrorist activities in the North East.
To this end, Federal Government has been urged to immediately upgrade security in the hinterlands of Benue state where scores of lives are been lost as a result of armed herdsmen inversion of the areas.
The President of Lawyers Alert, Mr..Rommy Mom, at a briefing in Abuja on Thursday, charged the government to set up a omission of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the Ukum and Buruku slaughters with a view to identifying the masterminds, bringing them to book and compensating the victims.
Some communities in Benue state have come under attacks of suspected armed herdsmen living several people dead including women and children as well as property destroyed.
Describing the killings as having semblance with the activities of Boko Haram in the north-east, Lawyers Alert warns that if immediate and urgent steps are not taken to get to the root of the problem it could escalate to an unimaginable extent.
“Speculations about the attacks range from suggestions that the killings were aftermath of aggrieved herdsmen to intra-ethnic bickering to external attacks from neighboring states. The above situation gives Lawyers Alert cause for extreme apprehension as we see parallels with the Borono situation from these spates of attacks in Nigeria’s North Central including Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue states”, Mom stated.
He further urged the Federal Government to halt the passage of cattle and herdsmen in the Benue valley pending when possible permanent solutions would be found and sued for improvement in intelligence gathering amongst the security agencies.
“…Undoubtedly, there is freedom of movement and the need for commerce, yet, in situations where lives are needlessly lost in hundreds, a temporary halt, while solutions are explored ranging from dialogue etc., is in order”.
He also called on the federal government to improve intelligence gathering ability as well as synergise the agencies for optimal performance just as he made a strong case for the Benue government to intensify and strengthen peace building committees across troubled spots to include herdsmen, farmers and other critical stakeholders.
On the part of the state house of assembly, he enjoined the members to carefully go through the grazing bill before them and eliminate the contentious areas with a view to enacting a law that would stand the taste of time and serve the interests of the people.
Speaking particularly on the deaths of Master Ipaven Paul Ayem who was allegedly killed by military bullet and Mr. Agidi Tersoo Tor who was brutally murdered by Fulani herdsmen in a Nigeria Prison detention facility, he said all the army and prison authority must be held responsible for the two deaths and actually made to account for them.
Also speaking, the leader of the delegation, Mr. Apiah Ephraim Ahangba noted with bitterness how the security agencies posted to the area have neglected their first line duty and stepped into aiding and abetting the killings of the local people.
Rolling out specific data of the level of damage across the five council wards in Turan district, Apiah said, only one is not directly affected by the Fulani herdsmen invasion.
In his contribution, Godwin Gbaior Tule, another member of the delegation who lost a brother in the carnage called for the federal government to compensate the affected communities as well as make provision for resettlement of the displaced persons in addition to bringing livelihood projects to the area.