The attention of Vanguard Against Tiv Massacre, VATIM, has been drawn to various issues around the on-going killings in Benue State been perpetrated by miscreants we believe are Fulani herdsmen.
We note with intense pains that those who are direct and collateral victims of this onslaught are innocent, law abiding, defenceless and harmless, peace-loving people of the Tiv ethnic nationality in particular and Benue state in general.
Our heart stays with the victims and our brothers and sisters who have been affected in one way or the other since this crisis started. In this regard, we thought all the conventional means would be used by the security apparatus in the nation and the state to curtail this unwarranted bloodbath which have lingered for too long. This has not happened, at the moment. The result is that, our people have been left without any form of protection by the state thereby making them vulnerable to unprecedented level of danger.
It is worthy of note that VATIM has emphasised on several occasions that, the recent crisis has so far resulted in over 600 reported cases of deaths in several communities in Buruku, Kwande, Agatu, Gwer East, Gwer West, Guma and Gboko, the worst hit been Buruku and Kwande local government areas with over 30,000 persons displaced and properties and livelihoods worth billions of naira completely destroyed.
As if that was not enough, on Monday, 20th March 2017, Zaki Biam in Ukum local government area came under another fierce attack which left several scores dead with many injuries as well as loss of property that have not been comprehensively captured at the moment.
While all these attacks on quiet communities, killings and wanton destructions are going on, the Tiv people in particular and Benue indigenes have restrained themselves to an unimaginable extent. But how further long this resilience will last is not immediately known as the terror victims don’t provoke the invading Fulani herdsmen.
The questions we want to ask are:
what is the essence of government if lives of the citizens are brazenly taken away with impunity?
What have we done wrong for the state to allow the Fulani herdsmen to launch this genocide against our people?
How long is this going to last? Will anyone blame us, if things get to a point that we are compelled to protect ourselves?
Again, we reject the statement by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) on Saturday, 18th March, 2017 commiserating with attacked Benue communities as it is viewed by us as an open and blatant invitation to chaos, have we not further restrained ourselves.
It is our total belief that, MACBAN have properly read, understood and can conveniently predict the body language of the powers that be, in this matter.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged joke with Governor Samuel Ortom on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, during the Federal Executive Council, where while shaking hand with the governor, addressed him as ‘permanent trouble’ is viewed with seriousness and it is a joke taken too far and in fact unacceptable.
As if that is not enough, yesterday, Tuesday, 21st March 2017, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina issued a press release in which he carelessly referred to the killings in Zaki-Biam as that perpetrated by unknown gunmen. We view these as deliberate refusal by the Presidency to intervene for the blood letting of innocent and peace loving citizens of Benue to stop.
For the avoidance of doubt, we want to make it known that if the senseless killings are allowed to continue, there would be famine in the land as the Tiv people known for farming cannot farm and the aim of the government to diversify the economy using agriculture would be defeated.
In case it is not known, Benue State is the uniting force of the country and a threat to it is a threat to the entire national unity and configuration.
We hope the Presidency and security agencies will urgently do the needful by provide security in the state to stop the dastardly acts of killing innocent souls. Delay is dangerous. Security agencies must bring perpetrators of the heinous acts to justice and concrete measures taken to heal our land as well as avert future occurrence.
On the flip side, if this is allowed to continue, we may have no option than to save ourselves through the ballot come 2019.
For: Vanguard Against Tiv Massacre (VATIM)
Ter Acka Aondover Lawrence Utsaha