The Victim Support Fund in collaboration with the Benue State Government has commissioned 37 new utility projects in the state.
The commissioning of the new projects follow an appeal by Governor Samuel Ortom in 2018, to the Victim Support Fund to help in rebuilding the public utilities.
Series of violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers had resulted in massive destruction of property and facilities across the state.
However, following the request, the Victim Support Fund intervened, leading to the construction of primary schools, health care centres and toilets, among other things in Agatu, Guma and Logo Local Councils of the state.
The Executive Secretary of the fund, Professor Sunday Ocheoche speaking on the intervention in Agatu noted that it was the first time the fund is intervening in areas outside the North East, given the similarity of the nature of devastation.
The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, thanked the fund for their support while informing the people of the state had awarded road contracts, which when completed, will help to ease movement.
The Incorporated Trustees of Mdzough-U-Tiv, a socio-cultural association of the Tiv people, have filed a N550 billion fundamental rights suit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria as compensation for damages for the victims of attacks by herdsmen in Benue State.
Others listed as respondents in the suit, filed at a Federal High Court in Abuja, which has the President-General of Mdzough-U-Tiv, Mr Edward Ujege, as plaintiff, are the Incorporated Trustees of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore; Abdullahi Bodejo, Saleh Al Hassan; Garius Gololo and Husaini Bosso.
Apart from the demand for monetary compensation, the plaintiffs are asking the court for an order directing President Buhari to provide adequate and effective security and protection to all surviving victims and members of the affected communities in their ancestral homes and everywhere in Benue State.
The suit chronicled attacks by “armed herdsmen” in the state leading to the wanton destruction of lives and property including schools, hospitals, worship centres, markets and farmlands belonging to the various communities where the attacks took place.
The trial judge, Justice I. Ekwo ordered the substituted service of the court processes on the respondents through newspaper publication and fixed hearing October 24, 2018.
The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Olu Falae, has blamed the northern states for the herdsmen crisis in parts of the country.
Falae criticised the state governments in the region during an interview on Channels Television’s Roadmap 2019, a political programme that aired on Monday.
“The problem of the herdsmen has been exacerbated by the failure of many of the state governments in the North to take care of the needs of the herdsmen,” the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said.
According to him, the needs of the herdsmen were thoroughly met during the days of late Sir Ahmadu Bello – the then premier of the Northern region and Sardauna of Sokoto.
The former minister of finance recalled that during the period, there were grazing reserves while all kinds of facilities were provided for the herdsmen and their cattle.
He highlighted some of the factors responsible for the crisis to include the reduction in size of the Lake Chad.
Falae, who was once a victim of the crisis, was kidnapped for days allegedly by herdsmen in September 2015 in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The police had confirmed that the abductors demanded a N100million as ransom before they would release the elder statesman.
The former SGF suffered another loss in January 2018 when his farm was razed in the South-western state.
While the police have yet to identify the perpetrators of the attack, Falae blamed the incident on malice and hatred by some individuals.
In further reaction to the herdsmen crisis, he repeatedly called on the Federal Government to take proactive steps in addressing the matter.
The elder statesman asked the government to tackle the depletion of the Lake Chad, erosion, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency among other challenges.
“Over one million people are herdsmen who earn their livelihood from the lake can no longer do so,” he said. “Added to that are those uprooted by Boko Haram and then, desertification has been continuously eroding the arable land in Nigeria.”
“When you put all these factors together, you find a tremendous pressure on herdsmen and their cattle and the response should have come from the state governments and the Federal Government to take care of their needs because they are Nigerians who are entitled to their livelihood,” Falae added.
Watch the full interview on Monday, June 25 by 9 pm.
Eight persons have been killed and several others injured following a fresh attack by armed herdsmen in Tseadough village in Kwande local council of Benue State.
Chairman of the local council, Mr Terdoor Kenti, confirmed this to Channels Television on Sunday.
According to him, seven persons were killed during the attack on Saturday night and one of the six injured persons who were rushed to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, later died at about 7:20 pm today (Sunday)
Kenti also stated that several homes were burnt down while a woman was kidnapped by the herdsmen.
At the time of filing this report, the police were yet to issue any statement confirming the attack.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has blamed the recent killings by suspected herdsmen on non-implementation of protocols.
Osinbajo stated this on Thursday while opening a ministerial meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja.
According to the Vice President, protocols were necessary in the discussions to proffer a lasting solution to incessant killings in the region.
Osinbajo warned that many of the countries in the region are already struggling with food security, and the violence, if unchecked would lead to catastrophe.
Since the turn of the year, many have been killed in series of attacks in several parts of the country with many questioning the capacity of the security agencies to arrest the situation.
The bloodshed have however continued despite several military exercises launched to contain the several attacks, just as two priest and 17 others were killed on Tuesday after gunmen invaded a Catholic church in Benue State.
Worried by the situation, the Senate on Thursday summoned President Buhari to brief them on the spate of killings.
Also, some angry Senators moved a motion calling for the sack of the Commander-in-Chief over the purchase of Tucano aircraft at the cost of $496 million which according to them, did not follow due process.
The Police in Benue State, on Friday, said they have recovered 10 bodies suspected to be that of the victims of an attack, scattered around bushes in some villages in the state.
Fresh attacks were earlier reported in some communities in Benue State on Thursday night. The attack was carried out by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
The Police in a statement signed by Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Moses Yamu, said the bodies were found in the bush around Tse-Adudu and Enger villages in Gwer West Local Government Area of the state.
“Eight dead bodies were found in the bush around Tse-Audu and Enger villages in Gwer West local government. This is in addition to the two bodies that were removed from the same area on the same day.
“They were believed to be victims of armed bandits, suspected to be cross-border insurgents and cattle rustlers. The Mobile Police Force Unit deployed in Naka general area, had in the course of their patrols, encountered the same Insurgents,” the police said.
The police said security operations have been stepped up in the affected communities with reinforcement of the Police Special Forces to counter insurgency and criminal activities of the gunmen.
The police, therefore, asked members of the public to report any suspicious movement in their areas to security agencies.
Benue State has witnessed several conflicts involving farmers and herdsmen with increased killings since January 2018.
Four persons have been killed in fresh attacks by gunmen in Jos, Plateau state.
The victims, who were reportedly killed on Friday night in La’ake village of Kwall district, were said to be children below the age of 10.
This attack comes barely 24 hours after five persons were killed including a set of twins in Bassa local government area of the state, despite President Buhari’s visit.
According to the village head, Daniel kadzia, the attackers invaded the village in a commando style and perfected their dastardly acts within few minutes having noticed that the youths and the men had gone for mining at that time of the day.
Narrating the sad event to Channels Television, Laraba Yohanna, the mother of two of the children that were killed said the children were playing under the moonlight just before the attack.
According to her, the elders were indoors when they suddenly heard sound of gunshots which alerted her and led to pandemonium in the compound.
Within a few minutes, the place was surrounded by gunmen shooting sporadically and, in the process, the children were shot while running for safety.
Reacting to the case, the Police Public Relations Officer for the Plateau State Command, DSP Mathias Tyopev, said the police commissioner had deployed security operatives to provide security for the community.
Communities in Irigwe Chiefdom of Bassa Local Government Area have been under incessant attacks from suspected herdsmen which have led to some villagers abandoning their ancestral homelands for fear of attacks in spite of several security checkpoints in the area.
Not less than 158 persons have been reported killed in the sate as a result of sustained herdsmen attacks in the state since the January 11th, an event that led to a mass burial and protest by youths in Makurdi, the state capital.
The former President is expected to visit the mass burial grave site and also meet stakeholders at the government house.
He is also expected to visit the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp located in Agan Toll Gate, where over 34, displaced residents of the state are taking refuge.
Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose had earlier paid a condolence visit to Benue State on Thursday, February 8. During the visit, he declared support for the Anti-Grazing Law implemented by the state government in 2017, warning that it must not be compromised.
Delta state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has insisted that there is no land available for the establishment of cattle colonies in the state.
He made this known on Wednesday while condemning the recent killings by suspected herdsmen in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Okowa who resumed a series of town hall meetings, to interface with the people of Ethiope East and Ukwuani Local Government Area, condoled with families of the attack victims.
He, however, assured the people of the government’s commitment to bringing an end to the menace, while also noting that Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Osinbanjo-led committee set up by the Federal Government to proffer solutions to the security challenge.
“I sympathize with communities in the state who have become victims of herdsmen criminal activities we hope that that the Osinbanjo-led committee will help to proffer lasting solutions to the challenges.
“With the degradation of farmlands as a result of oil exploration activities, we still maintain that there is no land for cattle colony in the state.”
Furthermore, in line with his commitment to providing necessary infrastructure in the state, Okowa commissioned the Isiokolo/Orhoakpor/Ekrerhavwe, and Abraka township roads in Ethiope East local government area.
He also commissioned the phase II of Amai/Ezhionum/Abbi road and Umutu skill acquisition centre in Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state, inspected the level of construction work done at the Okurekpo/Okunor-Okpara/Onumane/Samagidi road, and multi-billion naira senate building at the Delta State University, Abraka, Ethiope east local government area of the state.
“Our projects are designed to make our towns and cities accessible, give them a facelift and make our people happy.
“With all these commissioning and inspection of projects, we believe that we are impacting on our people, but the flagship of our programmes are the wealth creation programmes which have created a lot of jobs and wealth for our people,”
“I thank you (Deltans) for your support which has ensured good governance in our state, as long as we continue to make the state peaceful, we will continue to witness development in the state,” he said.
Residents of some communities in the southern part of Nasarawa State have fled their homes due to killings and attacks by armed men suspected to be herdsmen.
The residents, who are mostly women and children, have taken refuge in some schools in Doma, Agyaragu, Agwatashi and Imon villages.
They told Channels Television that they fled as a result of the unrest in the area.
Warning that the crisis has taken another dimension, they called on the government to swiftly intervene.
One of the displaced persons, Iorfa Adaah, said he is left with no choice than to leave his house as a result of constant attacks.
“My being here is as a result of the crisis going on. People have given the crisis different names. Some say it is as a result of armed robbers, others say they are herdsmen,” Adaah said.
“We know the herdsmen are a problem when they destroy farmers’ crops but this time around it has taken a different dimension. One will be sleeping in his house, you will hear knock on the door and if you come out, you only face a bullet.”
Another displaced person, Catherine Azer, called on the government to intervene adding that she wants to return home and live in her house without fear of attacks.
The Nasarawa State government, however, said it will continue to work in synergy with security agencies to ensure the safety of the internally displaced persons taking refuge across the state.
The Deputy Governor Silas Agara said this when he visited some IDP camps in the Southern District of the state to donate relief materials.
According to him, the government will not rest on its oars until normalcy is returned to the state.
Abubakar Maisaje, a Fulani elder in reaction to reports of the clashes between herdsmen and farmers sued for peace and sympathised with the farmers.
“What we want is that the farmers should take heart, at the moment the real attackers have not been caught. It as if it is criminals that are carrying out the attacks so we should both form committees that will be engaging in patrols and surveillance so as to identify the real perpetrators. We should live peacefully,” he said.
The Chairman of Obi Local Government, Sa’adatu Yahaya in her reaction told Channels Television that the situation is as a result of the backlash of skirmishes occurring in neighbouring Benue State. She reveals the plan of proper settlement of the displaced persons to give them a sense of protection.
The Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, has faulted the Federal Government’s response mechanism and poor handling of the herdsmen killings in Benue state.
Fayose said contrary to the believe in some quarters that the Anti-Grazing Law implemented by the state government was responsible for the killings, the Federal Government’s handling of security matters was to blame.
“The constitution has given you powers to make laws to protect your people. I made that law, I stand by it. Stand by your own. You are not saying you are making laws for other people, you are making it for your people. For the protection of your people, the peace of your people.
“The anti-grazing law must not be compromised,” he stressed.
He made this known on Thursday, when he visited the state to commiserate with the government and people over the death of over 70 residents.
The Ekiti governor also criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over comments he made asking Benue residents to accommodate their countrymen.
“How can a governor give you advance warning under secrete security information.
“How can you tell a governor in a situation like Governor Ortom has found himself, to go and accommodate people killing you, god forbid bad thing o.” he said.
Governor Fayose who was received by Governor Samuel Ortom from the airport, alongside top officials headed to the site of the mass grave where a minute silence was observed in honour of the victims of attacks on New Year ’s Day.
Thereafter, they headed to the Government House where he made a donation of N10 million to help support the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has criticised the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali for comments allegedly made by him where he blamed the herdsmen killings in Benue on the implementation of the anti- grazing law 2017.
Ortom described it as rather unfortunate, adding that if an Honourable Minister could make such comments then there may be no end in sight and justice for victims of herdsmen attacks.
Dan-Ali was said to have made the comments at the end of a meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhamamdu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the recent killings formed part of discussions at the meeting and that the proposed National Commission on Proliferation of Arms was one of the steps being taken by the Federal Government to tackle the violence.
In response, Governor Ortom said: “Well, it is unfortunate but I want to console myself that this thing is not coming from the Honourable Minister, but if it did, I will say that it is very unfortunate. The solution to the security challenges we have in this country is not in sight having those kind of people in power who are not able to give quality advice and to also proffer solutions to the security problems we have here.
“Take for instance, if you say it is because of the law that killings by herdsmen are going on in Benue, is there any law prohibiting open grazing in Adamawa State? Is there any law in Plateau State? Is there any law in Kaduna, Ondo, Bayelsa, Imo, Ebonyi, Delta or Edo States? In Edo state, cattle have taken over even schools,” the governor stated.
He made this known on Friday while also responding to comments by the Department of State Services which blamed the Islamic State for the genocide.
“The other day, a report came from DSS that the ISIS Terrorist Group Organisation is taking over and I also heard that the minister was quoted as saying we should accommodate foreigners; foreigners who come here illegally should be accommodated? So if a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is coming out to encourage our citizens to do illegal things, I now begin to see why they have given immunity that is the prerogative of the President and the Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors to herdsmen who kill and even cattle”.
“Cattle in Nigeria have immunity more than human beings. This is unfortunate and I look forward that he will apologise to us and retract what he said because it is an insult on our collective leadership. It is wrong and let the minister know that,” he stated.