Another militia group is brooding in the Middle Belt of Benue State if the Fulani herdsmen killings go unabated by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Government.
A former military governor of Plateau and Katsina states, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja(retd.), who described the January 1 and 2, 2018 killings in the state as genocidal conspiracy against the Benue people, “the killings must not continue.”
“Some of us, in 1966, fought the Nigerian civil war; Benue has contributed to the unity of this country. If the Federal Government refuses to address the killings in Benue and if we decide to raise our army as advocated by our elders to defend ourselves, l will not mind to command that army despite my age.”
The aggrieved leader made the comment on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at the IBB Square during a mass burial of 73 people killed by herdsmen in two local government areas of Benue State.
Offices, commercial banks, markets and schools were closed in the state capital as the government had, a day earlier, declared Thursday, a work-free day in honour of the victims.
He appealed to FG to replicate Operation Python Dance or Fulani Dance in Benue as being done in other states of the federation. He urged sons and daughters of the state to rally round the governor for the successful enforcement of the anti-open grazing law.
We will raise an army, if FG can’t protect us-Unongo
Tiv nation leader and the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Wantaregh Unongo, threatened that his ethnic group might be forced to form their own army to protect lives and properties of their own people.
“Benue people sacrificed blood for the unity of this country and will not allow a section of Fulani herdsmen to kill our people in cold blood.
“I am telling Nigerians that my people cannot continue to be cannon fodder for this country. If the government can’t protect us, we will mobilise and train our people into an army to defend us. We are 100 per cent in support of what Governor Samuel Ortom has done. I am the spiritual and ancestral leader of the Tiv nation; enough is enough, he said.”
Unongo stressed that the Federal Government should take drastic steps to urgently address the killings and also arrest the leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Houre.
“If the Federal Government cannot stop or arrest those behind the killings; in two weeks, we shall raise an army of our own. We cannot allow people to colonise us again, we have all it takes to do that,” Unongo said.
Latest killing, the most heartless-Gov. Ortom
Governor Ortom in his remarks, said the latest killing was the most heartless.
“If the herdsmen think that the killing of our people will make us to stop the enforcement of the law, they have failed. We will not be deterred because I am ready to pay the supreme price for the implementation of the anti-open grazing law. I will continue to insist on the arrest of the factional leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Houre.”
Ortom rejected the idea of creating a cattle colony or grazing routes for herdsmen, saying the suggestions were not acceptable to the Benue people.
He explained that the state did not have sufficient land for farmers, not to talk of space for grazing.