The federal government has deployed joint military forces to states in the north central to protect lives and property and contain the invading Fulani herdsmen
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 14, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
THE federal government is making spirited efforts to contain the menace of Fulani herdsmen whose nefarious activities have claimed the lives of thousands of victims in the North Central states. Apart from telling the governors in the affected states of Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa, Kaduna to step up security measures in their areas, last week, it ordered Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, chief of defence staff, to deploy joint military operations to Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau states with a view to curb the incessant attacks from the Fulani herdsmen in the states.
President Goodluck Jonathan who gave the directive on Saturday, March 29, said that troops have to be deployed to the states for a major offensive against the Fulani herdsmen. Confirming the directive of the presidency, Major General Chris Olukolade, spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, said the operations involved all the security agencies and the Nigeria police. “The internal security operation is meant to capture and neutralise all the enclaves of criminal gangs. The Nigerian Air Force, Police and other security agencies are also participating in the operation designed to restore peace in the affected states. Law-abiding citizens are enjoined to cooperate by providing timely and useful information to facilitate the operation as it affects their localities,” he said.
But the federal government has neglect to send its troops also to protect the people of Southern Kaduna, who are also at the receiving ends of the Fulani herdsmen. Thousands of people have been killed and more displaced as a results of the attacks of the herdsmen.
Nonetheless, the farmers in Benue state and the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, an umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen have signed a peace accord to end all hostilities currently going on in some parts of the state. However, the truce was brokered at the end of a peace meeting between the Mike Zuokumor, deputy inspector general of police, DIG (Operations), and his team, Atom Kpera, chairman, Benue State Reconciliatory and Peace Building Committee, and members of his committee as well as Bello Modejo, national president Miyetti MACBAN, and his team at the Banquet Hall of the Government House.
Reading the resolution of the meeting to newsmen in Makurdi, Kpera, who was flanked by Modejo, said both the Tiv/Agatu and Fulani have agreed to immediately cease hostilities, and also set up a task force to implement the peace agreement. He said that they are ready to fish out all criminal elements that were fuelling the dispute in order to effectively tackle the crisis. “We also agreed that the Fulani have not been chased out of Benue; they should feel free to remain and co-exist peacefully with Tiv/Agatu rural farmers. We have agreed to meet from time to time to build confidence and keep track of the implementation of the peace agreement,” he said.
According to Kpera, the major cause of the crises has been that the farmers had accused the Fulanis of destruction of their crops and contamination of community water points while the Fulanis accused Tiv/Agatu farmers of denying them access to grazing areas and occasionally rustling their cattle. “Accordingly, the following resolutions were adopted: both the farmers and Fulani have agreed to an immediate cessation of hostilities and no party should attack the other; the Tiv/Agatu and Fulani will immediately work together to set up a joint task force to check the activities of criminal elements on both sides and implement details of the peace agreement; the parties will continue to meet from time to time to build confidence.”
The meeting also cautioned the feuding parties against taking laws into their hands, advising that all illegal road blocks set up by the parties for the purpose of searching vehicles to harass individuals be dismantled forthwith.
But, on Wednesday, April 2, some victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks in Ayilamo, Tombo ward of the state rejected the peace pact. Tyo Gumsi, leader Tiv Market Union, TMU, in Ayilamo, Logo local government area of Benue State, said the purported agreement is a huge joke and an insult on Tiv people, who are at the receiving end of the crisis. He said the agreement cannot stand.
“You cannot kill people, burn their houses, occupy their lands and later sign a useless paper to stay and co- exist with them. I heard on Radio Benue that there was an agreement between Tiv farmers and Fulani herdsmen. I also heard that in the agreement the Fulani said they would stay in Benue and co- exist with Tiv people. I think it is a huge joke. I think those who signed such paper are not in any way affected by the crisis so they don’t know the pains of seeing someone kill your father, mother and child in your presence and you are helpless. They are signing a peace deal yet Fulani herdsmen are still burning Ayilamo, a town, which is 10 minutes from Anyiin, the home town of Governor Gabriel Suswam. Those who signed the so-called agreement have sold out. I advise Tiv farmers to reject any peace deal for now, until the real victims of the crisis are involved in the discussion,” he said.
Nevertheless, only time will tell whether the efforts of the federal government through the deployment of the military and the peace pact between the warring parties would end the endless killings going-on in the north central.