Suspected Herdsmen Kill Two Aide Workers, Volunteer In Benue

A photo showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.
An image showing the map of Benue, a state in North-Central Nigeria.

 

Suspected herdsmen have killed two aide workers and a volunteer for 360HSCD, a non governmental organizations working on HIV/AID testing and counseling in Benue state.

The aid workers had been on routine weekend supervision at Tomanyi village in Guma LGA of Benue state.

This is according to local sources who called the telephone lines of the aide workers upon learning of their abduction by suspected herdsmen.

The herdsmen who answered the call, according to the sources, confirmed the killings and insisted that such will continue until Governor Samuel Ortom responds to their demand to repeal the prohibition of open grazing in Benue state.

The state had passed a law banning open grazing in favour of ranching in 2017.

As of Monday morning, Channels Television can confirm that eight corpses have been recovered from Tomanyi village by security forces, accompanied by youths from the area.

However, police spokesperson in Benue, DSP Sewuese Anene, said she was yet unable to confirm the attack.

Armed Herdsmen: PDP Wades Into Ortom/Bala Mohammed Disagreement

A photo collage of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it has waded into the current disagreement between Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed on the issue of herdsmen who carry AK-47.

The party in a series of tweet on Monday also called for calm between both parties.

It said, “@OfficialPDPNig assures that it has waded into the rift between Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his Benue State counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom.

READ ALSO: National Livestock Plan, If Implemented, Will Solve Farmers-Herders Crisis – Lalong

“@OfficialPDPNig calls for calm as the internal reconciliation mechanism introduced by the hierarchy of the party between the two governors subsists.

“PDP however urges the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the escalated security challenges in our country,” PDP said.

Governor Ortom had earlier on Monday accused his Bauchi State counterpart, Mohammed, of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.

Ortom also accused Mohammed of being a part of those threatening his life stressing that the Bauchi governor should be held responsible if anything happens to him.

He reacted to Governor Mohammed’s statement which said herders can carry AK-47 to defend themselves noting that “his recent outburst that Fulani herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves. I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”

The Benue Governor, therefore, called on Governor Mohammed to render an unreserved apology and learn from the provisions of the constitution that, land both territorial,  forest, and aquatic, are vested on the governor of a state who holds them in trust, instead of indulging in inciting Fulani herdsmen against innocent Nigerians.

 

Bala Mohammed’s AK-47 Comment

Governor Bala Mohammed recently defended his comment about armed herders, explaining that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection.

“It is a figure of speech to show you the despondence, the desperation and frustration, and the agony that this particular person is exposed to by his own people, by his own tribe and by other tribes who have all seen him as a criminal and therefore, he has the inalienable right to protect himself,” the governor said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. 

This sparked more reactions.

His comment had earlier triggered a wave of condemnation from his counterparts and Nigerians alike, increasing calls for the prohibition of open-grazing.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Ondo counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, were quick to knock the Bauchi governor’s statement. Akeredolu had described it as uncalled for, arguing that it could further escalate tensions in the West African nation.

Banditry: Governors Agree To End Open Grazing In Nigeria

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

The Nigerian Governors Forum on Thursday said it had reached a consensus on the “need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night, and underage grazing in the country.”

In a communique issued at the end of its 25th virtual meeting and signed by Forum Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, the Governors were encouraged “to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the National Livestock Transformation Plan and ranching in the country.”

The consensus was reached to address the rising insecurity in the country which has been linked to armed herdsmen operating as bandits.

Meanwhile, the Forum condemned the ethnic profiling of crime in the country and resolved to “convene an emergency meeting of all Governors” on the matter.

“The Forum respects the right of abode of all Nigerians and strongly condemns criminality and the ethnic profiling of crime in the country in an effort to frame the widespread banditry and the herders- farmers crisis,” the communique said.

Read the full communique below:

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 25th TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM (2ND IN 2021) HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 10TH FEBRUARY 2021.

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held on 10th February 2021 received extensive briefs on a number of issues, deliberated on various matters of national concern and reached some resolutions:

1. On the current conversation on the COVID-19 pandemic, which is focused on making vaccines available as soon as possible to Nigerians, the Chairman called on all relevant agencies and public- spirited organizations involved in the procurement of vaccines to work amicably to ensure that the vaccines arrive the country quickly. He announced that the NGF will shortly inaugurate an advisory group of experts to provide high-level strategic guidance and support to the NGF on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in the short time and the local production of vaccines in the medium to long term.

2. The Forum is also engaging directly with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that vaccines are administered equitably, first to workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic.

3. The Forum deliberated on the underutilization of fiscal facilities in the country including the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Fund, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Saving One Million Lives programme for results (SOML) which are meant to expand the size and scope of resources spent on health and education across all States of the Federation. The Forum recognises that the timely implementation of these facilities in line with the financing plans of States is vital to ensure expenditure coherence and the sustainability for several projects on primary health care and basic education implemented at the State-level, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic where the demand for government intervention has been heightened.

4. On the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) performance for results project, the Chairman announced that the Federal Ministry of Health, the Commissioners for Health Forum and the World Bank have resolved to distribute the outstanding funds under the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLI 1,2) equally amongst all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

5. On the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), the Chairman expressed concern over the delay in the payment of funds to the three pilot BHCPF States of Abia, Niger and Osun. He urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the World Bank (WB) to urgently disburse the funds to these States using the original BHCPF Guidelines for States.

6. Following an update from Governors on the various initiatives taken by State governments to address the rising insecurity in the country due to the activities of herdsmen, members reached a consensus on the need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing in the country. State governments are encouraged to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the National Livestock Transformation Plan and ranching in the country.

7. The Forum respects the right of abode of all Nigerians and strongly condemns criminality and the ethnic profiling of crime in the country in an effort to frame the widespread banditry and the herders- farmers crisis. In the light of the economic and security risks that have arisen from these circumstances, the Forum resolved to urgently convene an emergency meeting of all Governors.

8. The Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Rt Hon. Simon Bako Lalong provided an update on steps taken by the Governors of the nineteen (19) Northern States and cautioned against the tagging of ethnic groups based on the misbehavior of a few criminally minded individuals. He called on State governors to address this matter head-on in their various States.

9. Following an update by Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, members resolved to immediately address the misinformation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources that it has so far registered 4.5 million farmers nationwide under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), a key component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) designed to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.

10. On the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 (NNBP), the Chairman briefed the Forum on the letter from the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) requesting Governors to give effect to some of the Infrastructure, Policy and Demand Drivers Pillars of the Broadband Plan in order to achieve full implementation of the NNBP.

11. The Chairman drew the attention of members to the letter from the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) requesting States to submit details of work done at the subnational level on lifting people out of poverty. This information will help the Council in developing a poverty reduction strategy/plan at the national level. States are expected to submit these on or 26th February, 2021.

12. The Chairman announced that the Forum was in receipt of a letter from the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Against Gender Based Violence (NGWA-GBV) thanking members particularly the Governors of Kogi, Ondo, Niger, Plateau and Ekiti who attended the High Level Policy Dialogue on December 2, 2020 for their support in making the event a huge success. The NGWA-GBV implored Governors to maintain the momentum around the emergency declared on GBV on June 10th, 2020. While noting the concerns of the NGWA-GBV, Governors resolved to endorse all requests and proposals contained in its letter dated January 26th, 2021.

13. Following the Presentation that was made at the 24th NGF Teleconference meeting on enhancing States’ IGR through harmonized Traffic Management System, the Secretariat was mandated to convene a meeting of the Committee headed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, to further review and advise the Forum on the project.

14. On the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) performance for result programme, the Chairman briefed the Forum on emerging concerns with the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) following the nomination of a new Auditor General for the Federation. He assured members that the Governor of Edo State who doubles as the Chairman of the NGF SFTAS Committee is working with relevant stakeholders to engender a final resolution that will sustain the momentum and quality service delivered by the IVA on the programme so far.

15. As part of the SFTAS update, Ajogbasile Olanrewaju, Senior Programme Manager (HelpDesk and SFTAS TA Programme) at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat provided the following:

a. All 36 States are set to meet the 2020 Annual Performance Assessment (APA) Eligibility Criteria having prepared and published online an IPSAS-compliant 2019 Audited Financial Statements by 31 August 2020 and their FY2021 State Budgets under the National Chart of Accounts (NCoA) by 31st January 2021.

b. Twenty Six (26) States including Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe State achieved the Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) 12.1 (strengthened procurement function for COVID-19 or emergency situation and facilitated participation of SMEs in public procurement in the resilient recovery phase).

c. Anambra State Annual Performance Assessment (APA) result for Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) 11.1 (announced and started implementation of a tax compliance relief program for individual taxpayers and businesses) has been revised following additional considerations that confirm that the State met the requirements of the DLI.

d. State Governors were encouraged to sustain high-level support for the SFTAS programme, promote an incentivised environment for participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as State officials. They were also advised to leverage existing technical assistance on the programme and implement in full and not in part the SFTAS verification protocols for the annual eligibility criteria and Disbursement Linked Results (DLRs).

16. On the operations of SFTAS, the Governor of Edo State, H.E Godwin Obaseki called on members to further strengthen the institutional capacity of the NGF Secretariat to become a stronger resource and policy centre for the provision of technical assistance to States.

17. The Chairman formally informed members of the death of the father of their colleague, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and prayed for the family and the people of Delta State. Members offered their sincere condolence and noted the decision of the Okowa family to opt for a quiet private burial this month, while a Celebration of Life event will be held on August 21, 2021.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum 10th February 2021

Army Kills Four Armed Herdsmen, Arrests 20 In Benue

Nigerian soldiers hold their weapons as they sit on a military pick-up truck at their base in the town of Banamba
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian soldiers hold their weapons as they sit on a military pick-up truck at a military base.

 

The Nigeria Military on Tuesday said four armed herdsmen have been killed and about 20 other suspects arrested in Benue State.

Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General, Texas Chukwu in a statement on Tuesday said the troops of special forces arrested the armed herdsmen during a patrol at Teguma village.

READ ALSO: Troops Kill Herdsman, Rescue Two Persons In Benue

“Troops of 72 Special Forces Battalion on April 16, 2018, on Operation MESA at Yogbo in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State encountered about 20 militia herdsmen at Teguma village while on patrol.

“Four of the militia herdsmen were neutralised during the encounter while others fled following superior gun power,” the statement read in part.

Items recovered from the suspects include four AK 47 rifles, five 7.62mm rounds of ammunition and 28 rounds of 7.62 police special ammunition.

The Nigerian army also recently killed one herdsman in Benue.

Benue State has been a hotbed of herdsmen-farmers crisis which has led to several attacks that have since sent many Benue residents to their early graves, most notably on New Year’s Day. This resulted in military intervention in the Benue and the commencement of military operation tagged Operation Cat Race.

Troops deployed in Army Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, also known as Cat Race on Wednesday, April 4, killed the herdsman and two persons after intercepting a large number of armed herdsmen on Tuesday, April 4, in Asom village, Guma Local Government Area of the state.

Lingering Attacks

The attacks in Benue took a surprising turn recently when some gunmen laid ambush on police officers in the state.

Four police officers were killed and about 11 others are still missing after the gunmen, on Sunday, laid an ambush on police officers in Benue State.

The attack occurred when the police officers were on a patrol from Anyibe to Ayilamo in Logo Local Government Area of the state.

Soyinka Asks Nigerians To Resist Armed Herdsmen Invasion

Professor Wole Soyinka

 

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka on Tuesday called on relevant authorities to check the wave of attacks being perpetrated by armed herdsmen across the country.

Professor Soyinka told journalists in Lagos that the phenomenon of herdsmen and farmers clashes is not new but an issue that has graduated to an alarming state in the last eight years.

He called for an organised resistance to the menace, describing the armed herdsmen as a new breed of Boko Haram and internal colonialists.

“The important thing is the consciousness of a need for organised resistance against the incursion of cows.

“In Ogun State, we have formed a sort of informal organisation called OSHA, Ogun State Hunters Association and we intend to collaborate with similar movements, the police and the military,” he said.

Commending state governments who have set up organisations to protect their citizens from attacks by the armed herdsmen, Soyinka said these organisations need to be taken seriously and well equipped to successfully disarm the armed herdsmen and prevent recurrent invasions.

“I wish to commend the governors in the various organisation which are now beginning to understand that they must start policing themselves.

“If we want to take the phenomenon seriously, it will be to ensure that anytime they see an armed herdsman, they report to the nearest police station. If by a certain time that group of armed herdsmen are not disarmed, then this organisation will move and disarm them.”

The Nobel laureate said further that he is not happy with ‘the body language’ of the government in handling the matter.

He also condemned the proposal for the establishment of cattle colony, insisting that ranching is the preferred option to resolve the crisis.

Osun Police Holds Peace Meeting With Farmers And Herdsmen

Police Inspector Allegedly Kills Man Two Days To His WeddingThe Osun State Police Command has frowned at the use of underage children for cattle rearing business by Fulani herdsmen in the state.

This was made known during a peace meeting organised by the state command of the Nigeria police to iron out issues of disagreement raging between some farmers and herdsmen in the state.

At the meeting, the police said it discovered that asides lack of communications, the use of underage children who can’t handle cattle has led to consequent clash with farmers.

The Commissioner of Police, Fimihan Adeoye ‎who trying to make peace between the farmers and the herdsmen, noted the use of underage children to  rear cattle as one of the key causes of cattle tramping upon farms of indigenous people in the state.

He said the police will soon take legal actions on the use of underage children by the Fulani herdsmen in enforcement of the Child Rights Act which protects the children.

While the meeting was ongoing, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Osun State command, paraded three suspected Fulani men believed to be terrorising farmers and residents of Ikoyi in Isokan Local government Area of the state.

Addressing newsmen, the state commandant, Ayodele Phillips said the men were apprehended in possession of several guns, pellets, charms and many other dangerous weapons in the bush.

He called on the public to be open and give relevant information to security agencies when necessary.

Meanwhile, the NSCDC boss says thorough investigation will be carried out to ascertain claims of the men and apprehend the other two, who are presently at large, if found guilty will be brought to book.

800 Herdsmen Now In Custody Over Violent Attacks – Osinbajo

800 Herdsmen Now In Custody Over Violent Attacks – OsinbajoSecurity agencies in Nigeria have arrested about 800 suspected violent herdsmen across the country, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Prof. Osinbajo made this disclosure in Houston, Texas in the US on Friday at a Townhall event where he interacted with US-based Nigerians who asked questions live at the event and also via the internet,

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Laolu Akande in Houston, the Vice President fielded about 30 questions at the well-attended townhall event moderated by Mr. Rudolf Okonkwo of Sahara Reporters and Prof. Nimi Wariboko of Boston University.

Asked about the issue of Fulani herdsmen attacks in certain states across the country and what the Federal Government was doing to curb the problem, the Vice President said: “The President has given firm instructions to the security agencies to arrest not only herdsmen who are attacking communities anywhere in the country but anyone of them or anyone at all in possession of firearms.”

He added that “there are about 800 of suspected violent herdsmen in the country that are currently in custody.”

The Vice President however decried the slow pace of the criminal justice system which is affecting the prompt trial of such suspects.

Prof. Osinbajo reminded the audience however that the issue of killings by such violent herdsmen has been a perennial issue especially as grazing lands continue to disappear over the years and the cattle feed on people’s crops on the farmlands. He clarified that the matter just did not crop up when President Buhari assumed office.

Vice President Osinbajo then advised the audience against the tendency of interpreting the herdsmen issue as a religious issue, stressing that it is important for all Nigerians to refuse such divisive narratives and tendencies.

He reminded his audience that there has always been conflict between herdsmen and communities across the country and that people should disabuse the notion that the problem has just started because President Buhari, a Fulani is currently at the helm of affairs in the country.

Community Policing

Answering question on the need for community policing, the Vice President indicated that community policing via State Police is indeed a cardinal programme of the ruling APC. However the party agenda cannot be introduced until there is an amendment to the nation’s constitution.

He gave a scenario where a policeman from Bayelsa State for instance is working in Borno State where he cannot even speak the language or understand the culture of the people he is policing, noting that such is counterproductive.

The current situation where Police activities is controlled at the federal level sure has some limitations, he conceded, adding that the “the federal government is currently working to introduce community policing that would be in line with the constitution”.

Judges’ Arrest

Commenting on the recent arrest of judges in the country, Prof. Osinbajo told his Nigerian audience in Texas that impunity could be very dangerous in any sector and that the federal government is only exercising its executive function in attempting to check excesses.

He pointed out that the important thing is that due process is being followed as the judges were released about 24 hours after their arrest and once they had given their statements.

The Vice President also responded to a question on the state of the nation’s economy and attributed the current recession to the loss of about 60% of government revenue due to pipeline vandalism and endemic corruption in the system.

He, however, stated that getting back oil production is a sure way to get out of the recession and the federal government is working to sort it out.

Anti-Corruption

Answering question from the internet on when former President Goodluck Jonathan would be arrested, Osinbajo pointed out that the Buhari administration is not in the business of arresting just anyone anyhow.

He said all the Buhari administration does is to empower the security agencies and the anti-corruption agencies to do their jobs, without the administration trying to teleguide them.

He also added that the fight against corruption in the country is not fought on ethnic, hasty or premediated grounds.

According to him, “corruption is not an ethnic thing, there is an equal representation in the stealing as no one operates with his/her ethnic group alone, the culprits are in every case seen so far, united by greed to steal and not by ethnic or religious interest.”

He frowned at a situation where for instance as much as $15 billion has disappeared from the national coffers into private pockets, pointing out that no responsible government would wave that aside so as not to offend people.

Commenting on the declining fortunes of Nigeria in international sporting competitions occasioned by poor funding by the government, the Vice President said that a long-term solution to inadequate funding of sports is private sector involvement.

According to him, looking around countries that have excelled in international sporting competitions, the private sector in those countries are directly involved and that is exactly what should happen in Nigeria.

By the time companies and organizations take up sports sponsorship, he believes that the tide would change for good.

Nigerians from all walks of life in Houston, Texas and from other parts of the US attended the town hall meeting which was preceded by a Nigeria Infrastructure summit which showcased opportunities for foreign investors in Nigeria.

 

Agatu Killings: Benue Lawmakers Condemn FG’s ‘Lukewarm Attitude’

BenueBenue State lawmakers in the House of Representatives have condemned the “lukewarm attitude” of the Federal Government towards the killings in the state.

Speaking on behalf of the lawmakers on Friday in Abuja, Honourable Orker Jev, said that over 1,000 people have been killed and over 100 villages razed in Agatu area by armed herdsmen, who are yet to be apprehended by security forces.

The lawmakers said that the Federal Government must take active steps to stop the killings in the area.

They also urged the Federal Government to provide intervention funds and programmes for the displaced people in the affected communities.

The lawmakers maintained that government must ensure that peace returns to the state that is known as the ‘Food Basket of the Nation.’