National Security, Benue and the Fulani Siege

Posted: May 19, 2013 in BENUE, federal, political, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

In most recent time the issues awash national dailies in Nigeria all
border on violence and killings all national security issues. To this
effect the president and commander –in- chief of the Armed forces,
president Goodluck Jonathan, issued a statement declaring a state of
emergency in several states amongst which include the following;
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe  states.
In his declaration speech the president mentioned the incessant
clashes which he termed terrorist activities around the nation as
reason:
“It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of
terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts
of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi,
Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa
states.  These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives
and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our
security forces.
The recent killing of security operatives by a cult group in Nasarawa
state is particularly condemnable. I have directed that no effort or
expense be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those who
had a hand in the killing of the operatives.
The activities of insurgents and terrorists have been reprehensible,
causing fear among our citizens and a near-breakdown of law and order
in parts of the country, especially the North. We have taken robust
steps to unravel and address the root causes of these crises, but it
would appear that there is a systematic effort by insurgents and
terrorists to destabilize the Nigerian state and test our collective
resolve”. He said.
The problem however in the Benue valley and Benue state in
particularly has been a lingering cancerous problem of incessant
attacks by Fulani herdsmen and not particularly a terrorist threat as
termed by the president. Atiterkula brings you insights into the
palaver in Benue state.

In The Beginning
The Tiv of the Middle Belt of Nigeria, who have suffered most of these
attacks and the Fulanis of Northern Nigeria, have always had a
relationship be it cordial or frosty. History has it that the duo were
once friends living together and all tending cattle but when the Tiv
decided to migrate to the middle belt, they demanded for their share
of the cattle to which they were obliged their share. After the
successful migration, the Tiv who are known for their deep penchant
for meat, upon the next meeting with the Fulanis were asked the
whereabouts of their cattle to which they responded in hausa,
“munchi”, meaning “I have eaten it”, a name that has stuck with them
for years.
Unfortunately the once convivial relationship has become a vinegary
one almost at all points when these former bed mates meet, there tends
to arise a confrontation; this being the situation Benue state since
February,2011, when there was a spar between the two in  Gwer- West
Local Government.
A Relationship Gone Awry
By February 8-10,2011, the Tiv farmers settled at the riverine areas
of Gwer-West local Government Area of Benue state raised alarms of
alleged attack on them by a horde of Fulani herdsmen who after an
altercation with the farmers over grazing and farmlands, returned
armed with sophisticated armory and in the ensuing brawl claimed 19
victims sacking 33 villages and homesteads, while destroying property
and farmlands worth millions.
The same scenario also played itself sometime later in March 4 which
even coincided with the official visit of President Goodluck Jonathan
to the state, the Fulanis returned in their numbers battle ready after
the first attempt at war was quelled by military and armed mobile
police The believed to be reason to be no different than laying claim
to land for grazing of their live stock mostly cattle.
The traditional ruler of Gwer- west, Chief Daniel Abomtse, had in the
wake of these attacks claimed the plan behind the attacks is to start
from his chiefdom from where the Fulani, after attacking and
exterminating his kingdom will proceed to the hinterlands. He further
indicted  the government of Nassarawa state and her traditional ruler
in a part he suspects they played in the plot.
“ … as usual the Fulani marauders always have their roots from the
neighbouring  Local Governments in Nassarawa State especially Doma
Local Government. Beginning from Akpanaja  which can be accessed from
NASME in North Bank which is within 16 kilometres of the greater
Makurdi radius. From here these people attack my people. I have held
various talks with the traditional rulers and government of Nassarawa
with the aim of finding solutions but the all are playing lip service
to the issue because this is part of the plan”. He cried.
The traditional ruler in his verbal outburst did not spare the
government either. Chief Abomtse decried the lack of attention given
the issue from the government quarters. According to him the attacks
would have been averted if the state government had taken serious a
warning letter titled “Grand plan to annihilate Gwer West People By
Fulani Herdsmen and Their Mercenaries”, which he addressed to the
Benue state governor through the state security service.
This situation did not end with the attacks on Gwer- local Government
as the boundary villages of Guma Local government were next to taste
the wrath of the herdsmen who attacked and razed down several villages
resulting in the death ten Tiv farmers slaughtered in fresh attacks
suspected Fulani herdsmen.
According an eyewitness Mbaungwa Igboko, the attackers who struck
Mbasenge community in Mbagwen in the early hours of Tuesday, May 4,
2013, killing and burning houses and farmland of their victims, the
fulanis had assistance from believed military men.
“The situation is that bad because as it is, we are at the mercy of
the invaders who we suspected are being propped on by mercenaries”. He
noted.
Search for lasting Solutions
In the wake of the crisis the Benue state Government had after a
consultative meeting which had in attendance the Sultan of Sokoto,
Alhaji Sa’ad Mohammed Abubakar111, Myetti Allah leadership and
Christian leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to find
lasting solution to the palaver drew up the following suggestions;
1.      The meeting called for Immediate ceasefire in the crisis and
directed the Fulanis and Tiv to demobilize their militias at the
border communities and desist from carrying dangerous weapons.
2. Both the Fulani and Tiv who have incurred severe loses over the
past months should forget the past as part of the sacrifices to bring
about peace.
3. The meeting emphasized the need for dialogue by all the political
and traditional leaders to create better understanding of the issues.
4. Conflict resolution committees be set up immediately at all levels
to swing into action to nip in the bud any potential or real threat to
peace and security within the localities.
5. The meeting resolved that the Fulani and Tiv communities must live
in peace henceforth and anybody engaged in any act capable of
breaching the peace should be arrested and treated as common criminals
in accordance with the laws of the land.
6. A committee of three Traditional Rulers from the Border Communities
in Benue and Nasarawa respectively including Ter Nagi, Ter Guma and
Ter Makurdi(Benue) and the Chiefs of Kwandare, Adudu and Akpanaja was
constituted and directed to meet soon to work out details of
implementing the resolutions reached at the meeting.
7. His Excellency, Dr Gabriel Suswam offered to assist borders
surveillance teams in the discharge of their duties.
8. The Governor of Benue State and his Nasarawa State Counterpart to
receive the report of an earlier committee set up on the crisis on
Wednesday 30th May, 2012 at Yelewata. Similarly, the Sultan Committee
on Farmers clashes with Fulani Herdsmen should resume sitting and
submit its report to the Sultan as soon as possible.
9. Cattle rustling by Tiv youths shall henceforth be considered a
criminal offence and treated as such. Similarly, Fulani Herdsmen
should desist from taking laws into their hands but should report
their grievances to their host Traditional Rulers.
10. Security agencies from both Benue and Nasarawa states to undertake
a fact-finding operation to identify possible camps of militia with
the view to dislodging same and to henceforth be proactive in their
operations to avoid reoccurrence of the conflict.
11. Called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to as a
matter of urgency provide grazing areas for Cattles as well as animal
tracks to reduce the incidence of conflict between Herdsmen and
farmers.
12. Fulani Herdsmen should respect traditional and constituted
authorities and seek to be in harmony with their host communities.
13. Fulani Ardos be appointed in communities where they do not exist
to create channels of communication.
Unfortunately the above discussions have become fruitless academic
exercise  as theattacks have instead increased and even stretched to
the Benue hinterland.
Most recently the people of Agatu Local Government area vented out a
loud cry calling for aid as atleast 47 mourners who were at a funeral
at ceremony in okpachanyi village were killed by Fulani herdsmen whom
also razed down 37 villages. They also claimed were accompanied by
over 200 mercenaries armed with sophisticated weapons.
This recent development which came not long after the prolonged
killings of hundreds of Tiv farmers in Guma has also elicited
insinuations from many corners as to the motive of such attacks.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), through her state
chairman, Arch. Bishop Yimam Orkwar, had earlier on in a press
conference disparaged allegations distancing the attacks from
religious causes as false, claiming they were a covert attempt to
islamise the state. He further called on the federal government to
take decisive steps to quell the crisis and also condemned the idea of
amnesty to insurgents especially Boko Haram.
Meanwhile with the Federal government fully aware of this situation
and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency in certain
states much is expected as the hopeless victims of this onslaught
watch to see what becomes of this potential siege.

Comments
  1. Terry says:

    Terkula, I thought you said you were going to provide YOUR perspective to the situation. I didn’t see it, you only appear to have quoted various sides.
    Thanks for the historicals anyway but on the issue of Munchi, I think the story is that Fulanis left their cattle with their Tiv-Farming brothers and when they came back Tiv had eaten the cattle only to say Munchi. So Fulani started calling Tiv Munchi and we call them Agwai ( no meaning is given to this word).
    It has always been a good relationship in the past until party politics in recent years. I recall how as kids, we looked forward to the time when Fulanis will come such that their women will sell No-No. I don’t recall there ever being any clashes with the Fulanis in all my growing up days! Recall that there was more farming then but no one ever complained of cattle eating his crops! In fact one hardly saw Fukani men; only their women came around to sell Fura de Nono!!
    What’s wrong these days?

    Like

  2. Targule Abel says:

    Federal government should please help the tiv people to resolve the issue affecting the tiv native farmers

    Like

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