Benue Killings And The Imminent Rise Of Another Militia
Nigeria News take a look at the killings in Benue by herdsmen and the looming rise of another militia force.
The middle belt of Nigeria has been stable over the years until recently that the incessant incursion of the Fulani herdsmen breached its peace.
It is one of the minority ethnic groups that hardly agitate for self-determination. Politically they see themselves as part of the north but not a member of the Arewa, the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group.
Plateau and Benue States are prominent members of the middle belt but the indigenes of these states have suffered a lot in the hands of the Fulani herdsmen. Their farmlands are regularly invaded by cows and their crops destroyed almost every year.
The hostility between the peasant farmers of the middle belt and the nomadic Fulani herdsmen has sent thousands of Nigerians to their early graves. It is either the farmers allow the cows to graze on their farm or resist it and risk their lives in the hands of the bloodthirsty herdsmen.
The killings by herdsmen go beyond the middle belt though, it has spread across the country but with little effort by the Federal Government to curb it.
In Kaduna, Ekiti, Oyo, Delta, Edo States, many innocent people have been killed while many were kidnapped by the herdsmen for ransom. Women and daughters were also raped.
When the activities of the herdsmen became uncontrollable, some of the state governments proposed the anti-grazing bill in open places, some of which had since been signed into laws.
The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and his counterpart for Benue State, Samuel Ortom ensured that the bill became law last year to curb the attack of the herdsmen on the farmers.
While the enforcement of the law had helped in Ekiti, it led to war in Benue where about 18 peasant farmers were killed on January 2, 2018, by the herdsmen.
The victims celebrated the New Year on January 1 but were slaughtered by hackers believed to be herdsmen on the second day of the year because they resisted cows from destroying their crops.
It was a gory sight as Governor Ortom battled tears, seeing the carcasses of the victims littered the ground. He called for the urgent intervention of the Federal Government, which of course took about three days to come.
The Benue youths stormed the roads to demand justice for their loved ones who fell by the swords of the herdsmen. Good, eight suspected herdsmen were arrested by the police but to the youths, it was not enough justice.
They raised militia group to defend themselves. This perhaps made President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly summon the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to ensure that peace return to Benue and stop the plan of the militia group from a reprisal attack.
Must the government wait for another militia group to emerge before nipping in the bud the herdsmen’s brutality in the country? Buhari should be reminded of the rise of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC just after the annulment of June 12, 1993, election.
OPC came on a rescue mission to rescue the Yoruba from oppression and had since become an instrument in the hands of politicians to perpetrate evil.
Perhaps, Buhari should be reminded of the Niger Delta militants that came to being over perennial injustices suffered by the region. The president should be reminded of the EGBESU, MEND and recently the IPOB.
The government should do all within its capacity to address the excesses of the herdsmen and ensure that Benue youths do not take arms to defend the food basket of the nation.