Genocide In Benue And The Strange Response of The Nigerian State By Bemdoo Hulugh
It is no longer news that about 15 Local Governments in Benue state are affected by the on-going invasion and occupation by armed fulani herdsmen (Agatu remains the most affected). These attacks by herdsmen did not spare women or children. In some instances a whole family has been wiped out. It is so sad that these poor villagers have been forced out of their homes by armed herdsmen to take refuge in classrooms and open fields while their homes are now occupied by herdsmen and their cattle. It is even more sad and annoying that the Nigerian State is doing little or nothing about it.
Beginning with the State government, The Governor has not been speaking clear enough or at most only laments about the situation. He has failed to tell us what exactly he is doing to make sure these armed herdsmen are neutralised so that displaced people can go back home. At the moment of writing this piece, the governor has not visited Agatu or any of the troubled communities.
Our President on the other hand has been eloquently silent. It took the presidency days to release a statement after about six communities in Agatu were completely burnt down by these armed fulani herdsmen. According to the president’s spokesman, the president ordered an investigation but more and more villages continue to come under attack and this is evident in the number of IDP camps that have been opened since this statement was made. I will not be far from the truth if I accuse the president of sitting and doing nothing as armed fulani herdsmen commit genocide in the Benue valley.
Our security and law enforcement agencies are also acting strange. The Inspector General of Police visited Benue and remained in the State’s capital city of Makurdi but went back to tell the world that the killings in Agatu was exaggerated. There are still dead bodies littered in those communities that are under siege and those displaced can’t go back home but the number one police officer is saying the Agatu massacre has been exaggerated. Is that what he went back to tell the President? While the people of Benue were running from their homes and counting dead bodies because of armed fulani herdsmen, the Inspector-General of Police announced he was deploying three Commissioners of Police to Rivers state for election. Are the people of Benue lesser human beings? He will later claim to deploy more policemen and operational vehicles to Benue state command but up to this moment nobody can tell the level of progress they have made. Those who visited Agatu on a fact finding mission with Senator David Mark told us there are very few military personnel on ground who said they were not given any specific orders. So what is actually going on?
Those who visited Agatu told us Agatu is dead. They showed us pictures of dead bodies littered around, over grazed and destroyed farms, burnt houses and bans. The story is the same in about 14 other affected Local governments across the state. It is alarming that these armed fulani herdsmen are walking around with sophisticated weapons and the Nigerian State is doing nothing.
The narrative gaining prominence by the day is that government is reluctant to act because President Buhari is a fulani man. That They are all afraid of offending the President by acting against fulani people even if they are committing genocide. I don’t know if this is true but this narrative will continue to gain prominence if the Nigerian government continue to behave strange. This is how we ignored boko haram till they became powerful beyond our imagination. The media most times refer to the genocide in Benue as a “clash” between herdsmen and farmers and some justify their actions with a claim that the farmers provoked the herdsmen by killing their cattle. This is how people will continue to find excuses for them till they become powerful beyond our imagination. If they can use sophisticated firearms to occupy villages in Benue state without any challenge from the Nigerian State, why won’t they do that in any other part of the country? This is why the whole Nation must be worried.
What is happening in Benue is genocide. These armed fulani herdsmen kill anything on their path that is not fulani or their cattle. Some who are lucky to escape the matchet and bullets of the herdsmen still die in the classrooms or open fields that are called IDP camps. These atrocities cannot be relegated to the background of national conversation. The government must act now and make sure the displaced people return to their homes as quick as possible. The president must come out clear in words and deeds that he truly belongs to everybody. Government must rise to its responsibility to protect lives and property.
Bemdoo Hulugh is an active citizen and he writes from Makurdi
You can also interact with him on twitter @bumy
Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates