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We refuse to be colonized by Fulani herdsmen, say Benue people

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•Accuse Buhari of indifference to their plight
Babatunde Opalana 

 

A group of concerned indigenes of Benue State under the umbrella of Community Development Coalition has said that the people of the state will do everything to resist being colonized by Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege on Benue land killing the people, and destroying means of livelihood without remorse.

In response to the recent despicable killing of over 100 innocent persons and the wanton destruction of property in Guma and Logo Local Government areas of the state by Fulani herdsmen, the Coalition on Wednesday addressed the press to ventilate their anger against the senseless genocide and the indifferent attitude of the Presidency in checking this menace.

The Coalition accused the Presidency of insincerity in addressing the incessant killings by Fulani herdsmen across the country, most especially in Benue state and declared that all federal agencies concerned with the protection of lives and property have failed in protecting the defenceless  innocent people  against the armed militia herdsmen.

Reading the position of the group to the press, Chief Clifford Atile, co-convener on behalf of the convener, Prof. Yima Sen, said it is high time the people of Benue state emancipate themselves from the hold of the Fulani invaders that have subjected indigenous people to foreigners in their own land. He said this is a modern-day colonization.

“Nigeria as a nation was colonized in the past by the British government, we as a people cannot be colonized by the Fulani or any other people on our own land. This is one incident too many and we declare that enough is indeed enough!”, he declared.

He lamented that the political leadership of the country has not reciprocated the good gesture of the people of Benue in promoting the unity of Nigeria as one indivisible entity adding that the primary responsibility of government is the promotion of the security and welfare of its people in whom sovereignty resides.

Expressing regrets over voting Buhari into power, the group said “when in 2015 we joined other states of the federation to massively vote and usher into power, the present administration, we did so in the belief that the government will offer us protection if and when we came under attack, or if our welfare and comfort was imperilled in any way. It is regrettable to note that this government has abysmally failed in the discharge of this constitutional responsibility.

“Since this administration came into office in May 2015 there have been at least 20 vicious attacks on defenceless Benue communities, the first being on July 7, 2015, and the most recent being in the early hours of January 2, 2017. More than 100 precious lives have been lost in the process and property worth Billions of naira destroyed, and economic activities hampered or impeded.

“What is particularly disturbing is the level of insensitivity that has characterised the usual slow, belated, lack luster and knee-jerk response of the Federal Government, and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari”.

The group said in spite of efforts and contributions of illustrious sons of the state like Late JS Tarka, Late Aper Aku, Wantaregh Paul Iyorpuu Unongu to the unity of the country through harmonious relationship with other ethnic groups, it is sad to note that the rights and dignity of the Benue people has not been protected enough by past governments.

“Sadly, over the years, this position of pre-eminence, this position of pride and dignity, appears to have eluded us completely.

“We have not only become the target of sustained and vicious attacks, in a carefully orchestrated diabolical scheme, by a well-known assailant, but we have become a people under constant displacement, always running from our ancestral homes to find alternative shelter elsewhere.

“ We have not only become a laughing stock and a reference point for snide jokes and demeaning remarks, but we have become an embarrassment to ourselves and to other minority groups in Nigeria.

Determined to take their fate in their hands, he said “this is not the time for us to lament. No! We say a resounding no to lamentation. This is the time to rise up from the ashes and reclaim our pride of place. Enough is enough!”.

Though not calling for anarchy, the Coalition said it will ensure the emergence of a robust, reliable and sustainable community-driven defence and security system in the quest for a permanent solution to herdsmen killing in the state.

“Having clearly failed in the constitutional responsibility of government to ensure our security and welfare, we have no option than to take our destiny into our hands. No longer shall we rely on an inept, deficient, compromised and grossly ineffective security apparatus for our protection. We shall rise up in unison and take our destiny in our hands. Enough is enough!”, he said.

The group tasked the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators are not only identified and brought to justice, but also ensuring the highest level of security and protection for our citizens.

Being in support of a full implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law, and in this regard, the group vowed to do all that is legally possible and humanly permissible to ensure that this law takes its fullest course.

The group also said it is set to interrogate the leadership question at local, sub-national and national levels with a view to identifying and promoting the overall political, economic, and developmental interests of Benue State


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