By: Desmond Oogwu

In a bid to stamp out the ugly tide of insecurity in their respective territories, three Local Government Chairmen from Benue South, Rt.Hon. George Alli, Hon. James Oche and Hon. (Mrs.) Amina Audu, of Otukpo, Ado and OKpokwu Local Government Council respectively, on Thursday held a meeting with traditional leaders, security agencies and leaders of Fulani herdsmen at the palace of the traditional leader of Utonkom, HRH. Chief Mathew Ogbu Egede.

The host and Chairman of Ado Local Government, Hon. James Oche welcomed everyone. He said him and his colleagues from Otukpo and Okpokwu local government decided to call the meeting due to increasing complaints of security concerns bothering on killings, kidnappings, armed robbery, raping and destruction of farmers crops and farmlands, which are largely attributed to some criminal Fulani herdsmen.

HRH. Chief Mathew Ogbu Egede, the A’Ado and the Och’Otukpo Odu, Chief Dr. John Eimonye, all in their submissions recalled the good old days when they as young farmers lived peacefully side by side with Fulani herdsmen and their wives. They described as strange the attitude of some of the Fulani herdsmen who now bear arms and other dangerous weapons and move about without their wives and children, destroying people’s farms and unleashing terror on farming communities as “strange, condemnable and totally unacceptable”. they implored all good Fulanis to corporate with and join hands with leaders of their host communities to flush out all criminal elements within their midst.

Speaking further, the Ado LG Chairman said as leaders they won’t fold their hands and watch their people being slaughtered, raped and maimed in their farm lands anymore. He said Fulani herdsmen who wants to live within any community within the zone must abide by relevant laws of the land. He said Benue state government policy on ranching of all domestic animals remain sacrosanct. He reechoed the question put to the Fulani leaders if they are for war or for peace; to which they said they are for peace.

On her part, Hon. Amina Audu, the Executive Chairman of Okpokwu said her position is the same with the position of her colleagues and the traditional leaders from the three local government. She narrated the ordeals of her people have been suffering in the hands of criminal fulani herdsmen who rapes women, kill people in their farms after destroying their crops to feed their cattle. The Okpokwu Chairman said she has severally mobilized the youths to go after the criminals who continue to use Adiga forest to launch attacks on her people; warning that as a council they will no longer tolerate any form of violence, enough is enough.

The ALGON Chairman of Zone C and Executive Chairman of Otukpo LG, Rt.Hon. George Alli told the gathering that it has become increasingly difficult for cattle and crops to be live side by side in today’s Nigeria. He insisted that all cattle within the territories must be ranched as there is no option to ranching as far as Benue state is concerned. Alli also said the whole country is now in agreement with Governor Samuel Ortom concerning ranching of all cattle including other livestocks in Benue .

Alh. Risku Mohammed, leader of the Fulani delegation to the meeting and Chairman of Myatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Benue State thanked the leaders for convening the meeting. He said he and his group are willing to abide by the conditions spelt out by their host. Alh. Mohammed who was born and bred in Benue State, condemned in totally the raping of women and other acts criminality, including kidnapping. He said any herder who indulges in criminality, when caught, should be dealt with according to the law.

The meeting had in attendance personnels of the Nigerian Police, the DSS, Civil Defense Corps, Benue Vigilant Service, the Benue State Livestock Guards, Homeland defense team. Others are opinion leaders from Agila, Igumale and Utokom; some members of Ado, Okpokwu and Otukpo LG Excos. The meeting ended with the following resolutions:

1. That the leaders and the people of Benue South Senatorial Zones wants all catties in the zone, ranched, in line with the Benue State Government policy; and the Benue State anti open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Acts, of 2017.

2. That the people of Benue South Senatorial Zones, as peace loving, tolerant and accommodating people, recognised the rights of all Nigerians to freely live and legitimately transact their businesses in any part of Nigeria, including Benue South Senatorial Zone: provided they abide by the laws of the land.

3. The meeting resolve that, going forward, a fresh and immediate census of all Fulani cattle herders in Ado, Okpokwu and Otukpo LGA of Benue State will be taken to accertain their numbers.

4. A biometric data of all fulanis herdsmen living and doing cattle business within Ado, Okpokwu and Otukpo LGA will be taken: each of them will be issued an Identity card. With a duplicate copy deposited with the Nigerian Police and one with the traditional Leader of the community where they reside.

5. That the leaders and people of Benue South Senatorial Zones are not out to whichhaunt a particular tribe or ethnic group as some may assume by the first item of this resolution, which is ranching of all cattles in any part of the zone.

6. The meeting resolve to immediately mobilize the Benue State Livestock Guards to Adiga forest which criminal elements within the zones uses as their safe haven to perpetrate crimes against our people, to flush out everyone of them.

7. The leaders and people of Ado LGA, Okpokwu LGA and Otukpo Local Government Area, by this resolution are calling on all those criminals who are residing in Adiga forest and using it to engage in kidnapoing and robbery along Ado and Okpokwu road to immediately leave the forest as anyone caught enaging in criminality will have themselves to blame.

That the leaders and people of Otukpo, Ado and Okpokwu Local Government Area are committed to peaceful coexistence with all Nigerians; regardless of tribe and tongue.

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