Our attention has been drawn to a report on the farmers-herders clashes launched by Amnesty International Nigeria on Monday in Abuja. The report, tagged “Harvest of Death” captured only three years (2015-2018) of the decade long conflict, but cynically and deliberately ignored reports from previous years.
The attack by Fulani herdsmen did not start in 2015 as reported by Amnesty International. Between July 2012 and June 2015, suspected herdsmen wreaked havoc on villages in Benue and Plateau States which led to the death of Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Gyang Fulani.
On April 23, 2013: 10 farmers were killed in an attack in Mbasenge community, Guma L0cal Government Area of Benue State, by suspected herdsmen; on July 5, 2013: 20 people were killed in a conflict between Tiv farmers & herdsmen at Nzorov, Guma LGA; on November 7, 2013: attackers strike at Ikpele & Okpopolo communities killing 7 and displacing over 6000 inhabitants, and many more.
It is worthy of note that the inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to find a lasting solution to the killings led to President Muhammadu Buhari inheriting the menace which has then spread to other local government areas and communities in Benue, Taraba, and Plateau States. Fortunately, Nigerians elected a President capable of nipping the conflict in the bud.
Contrary to what is stated in the report by Amnesty International that “little has been done to prevent, arrest and prosecute,” the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has arrested and prosecuted some numbers of suspected militia herders which include the Commander of Livestock Guard. Alhaji Tashaku Aliyu, and Haruna Usman. Seven Fulani herdsmen that were invlolved in the kidnap of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation have been sentenced to life imprisonment by an Ondo State High Court.
Troops on AYEM Akpatuma exercise arrested among others, two persons, Danasebe Gasama and Danjuma, aka “American”, in connection with the killings of Takum and Ussa local government areas of Taraba state. Troops of the 93 battalion of the Nigerian army stationed in Tukum, Taraba State, arrested nine well-armed militia from Benue, claiming to be members of government sponsored security volunteers.
Aside these arrests and prosecution, the Nigerian Customs Service under the able leadership of Hameed Ali, intercepted 470 pump action rifles imported from Turkey.
That Amnesty International will in a misleading manner go ahead to release a report saying “government failures fuel escalating conflict between farmers & herders” is unacceptable.
Where was Amnesty International when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, paid a visit to Benue state to assess the situation of the state particularly the displacement of people? On June 25, 2018, Vice President Osinbajo, visited Plateau State to condole with the people, and held meetings with community leaders and initiated a reconciliation process? Also on June 26, President Muhammadu Buhari, visited Plateau State and assured everyone of a long lasting resolution to the crisis.
We feel compelled to remind Amnesty International of the N10bn fund approved by President Muhamamdu Buhari for rehabilitation of farms and farming communities in Benue and Nasarawa States, and has also been made available to Plateau State. That fund is to enable farmers who have lost farmlands to the conflict go back to their farms and provide whatever assistance is required.
So far, the federal government has implemented the permanent positioning of security agencies in certain communities that are prone to these type of violence. The Nigerian Military has also deployed additional Special Forces to support OPERATION SAFE HAVEN in Plateau State. Additional security units have also been set up in Benue State with large deployment of special intervention force to flash point areas in Benue State.
It is therefore important to state here that the cynical and self-serving report of the amnesty international is aimed at dividing us as a nation and undermine the relative improvement and peace sustained in the troubled areas. Whatever the aim of their report is, we are confident that Nigerians won’t buy into their plot to give life to a virus that has long ceased to exist.
We again reiterate that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to serving the people of Nigeria, and will stop at nothing to sustain lasting peace enjoyed in every parts of the country.
For: All Progressives Youth Forum