Press Release

Makurdi: March 8, 2014

Humanitarian Crisis in Benue State Caused by Fulani Herdsmen/Militia.

We at the Initiatives for Sustainable Environment & Community Development (ISECODEV), an NGO/Civil Society Organization, wish to draw the attention of the Benue State government, the federal government and indeed, the international community to the growing humanitarian crisis in Benue state occasioned by the incessant attacks on Benue farmers by Fulani herdsmen/militia and call on Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State to take the issue of the welfare of the internally displaced Benue indigenes seriously.

Yesterday, March 7, 2014, the Fulani herdsmen/militia invaded a Tiv settlement in Daudu, Gbajimba local government area located along Makurdi-Abuja federal highway. The crisis, which ensued for hours caused the blockage of the federal highway rendering motorists and travellers stranded in the process. The locals took to their heels in thousands with no particular destination in mind. As a result, there are so many IDPs around Makurdi town in search of food and shelter. Also, there was another security breach in Jato-Aka, Kwande local government area of the state.

We as an NGO/Civil society organization are suggesting the following to the state government in order to bring succor to our people:

1. That the Benue State government should immediately arrange vehicles to evacuate the rest of the people in Daudu who could not trek for kilometers to Makurdi to a safe place.

2. That camps should be set up and managed by the state government in collaboration with the civil society in some designated primary schools (after all, the primary schools in the state have been on strike for the past one year) where water, food and medicals can be provided for the people.

3. Temporary clinics should be set up in these camps with adequate medical personnel to cater for the medical needs of the internally displaced persons.

4. Security personnel should be mobilized around these camps against any external aggression.

5. The Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BESEMA) should be on mobilized to take care of the welfare of these internally displaced persons. Relief materials that were donated to victims of the floods of 2012, which are still in custody of the state government, should be distributed to the IDPs.

The primary responsibility of a responsive government is to protect and provide for the welfare of the citizenry. Now that it has become very clear that the Benue State government is overwhelmed by the security challenges in the state, we call on the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Benue State.

We had suggested in a letter addressed to Mr. President and the NSA on February 28, 2014 that the federal government should set up a committee to dialogue with representatives of the Benue farmers and those of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in order to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis which has claimed several lives and property worth millions of Naira destroyed. We still urge Mr. President to give this letter priority attention.

In the meantime, we call on all the aggrieved parties in the violence to cease-fire and give peace a chance so as to enable negotiations to be commenced by the stakeholders. Fulani and the Tiv people have been living together for centuries with no hostilities towards each other.

Finally, we call on all elected state governors in Nigeria to always stay in their various states to tackle any security challenges that may arise instead of seeking refuge in Abuja, which is the seat of power of Mr. President and his appointees.

Richard Agwa
Executive Director.

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