The carnage in Agatu: Where are the rights activists?
The last Sunday parade of armed herdsmen by the Guards Brigade in Abuja signified that Agatus are not safe yet, hence the need for President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB)/APC to intensify efforts to bring a permanent solution to the clashes.
The intensification of efforts is not negotiable. This is because, that same Sunday Okokolo, a community in Agatu LGC and a few others such as Odejor, Akwu and Adagbo were attacked again. One begins to wonder: What do these herdsmen want? What they want is not yet known. This is all the more reason that the government must rise above party politics and in the interest of the generality of Nigerians to speak with one voice in condemnation of the continued killings and destruction of property in Agatu LGC, Benue State is most paramount.
It appears that the Agatus are abandoned by the government otherwise why these continued attacks? Does it mean that the Agatus cannot live and rebuild their destroyed villages? The recent attacks on Agatus are a sufficient reason why Samuel Ortom should resign. One should not come to govern with a mindset or stereotypical ideology of any group of persons. The governor of Benue State has failed woefully, and his kind of person should be far away from governance in interest of all and sundry. He appears to know close to nothing about good governance and representation.
Chief Samuel Ortom should remember that government is a continuum and the same Agatu LGC he has abandoned can be that stone that can catapult him to another political altitude and elevation. A man with a bad tooth must chew with caution.
‘According to reports, the Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army paraded 36 armed herdsmen who were intercepted by troops of the 117 Guards Battalion, Keffi, on the Abuja-Keffi Road on Sunday. The herdsmen said they were going to Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State. What that implied is that, they were heading for Agatu again. Kudos to the officers. The reports stated that when the herdsmen were stopped the soldiers thoroughly checked their vehicle in which they found ‘one pump action gun,’ 19 cartridges of dane guns, 118 cartridges of ammo, 28 cutlasses, three jack-knives, 14 sticks, seven torches, assorted charms and hard drugs.’’
The situation can be likened to more of genocide than clashes, because, it may take Agatus 20 years to rebuild their communities. Farming is their source of livelihood but they cannot plant anything as of now. The yam seedling, cassava and other seedlings for cultivation have been completely destroyed. The Agatus are being thrown back to seek a new beginning. Why? Those that soldiers have arrested and their sponsors, no matter how highly placed, must be made to face wrath of the law.
The herdsmen usually come through Loko in Nasarawa State to carry out their dastardly act. Why must people take delight in the massacre and burning of communities with reckless abandon? The constructive public opinion on Agatus must be taken seriously by President Buhari and the party, APC, and most especially, the governor of Nasarawa State for the sake of good neighborliness and solidarity for human lives and properties at the time that things are very difficult in Nigeria. The terrorism in Agatu by herdsmen must not be allowed to continue. We should all join hands to end it. And it must be now.
Agatu Local Government Area is in Benue South senatorial district with abundant arable land for farming. The people in the communities are predominantly farmers. As farming is the only source of livelihood there the coming of the herdsmen pose a lot of dangers. It is unbelievable that this destruction and the killings continue under the government’s watch, a government that swore to an oath to ensure peace at all costs. It would seem, regrettably, that the same government is indifferent and is playing to the gallery at the expense of those who voted them into power.
There is no- gain- saying that the Agatus are in dire need of urgent attention in all ramifications, in fact, the entire dynasty of the Agatus as a people from responsive governments, being it Local, State and Federal even international community whose major responsibility is to provide security of lives and property for a people, to intervene.
The genesis or root causes of this crisis should be traced. Good governance should be all encompassing and decisive. What we are witnessing in the state government is incompetence of the highest order. A high-powered investigation committee should be constituted to unmask the perpetrators of this immoral act.
This crisis in Agatu must be given continuous attention and all concerted efforts made to stop it by all means, before it degenerates into war or terrorism. We should remember that the country is still battling Boko Haram which is a fight to finish. We should not divert attention until Boko Haram is completely subdued and the killings in Agatu eradicated permanently.
A visit to Agatu Local Government Area tells one of how abiding, religious, law and accommodating the people there are. However, they cannot go for their farm work for fear of attack, as they are defenseless and harmless. Children of the school of age are not in school which is another menace. The situation is very pathetic. In fact, every weekend is a nightmare because this is the time when the dastardly act is carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The Agatus need prayers to stop this unfortunate act which has necessitated these questions begging for answers: Where is the voice for the voiceless? Where are the defenders of the defenseless and the human right activists in Nigeria?
• Adanu is a communications practitioner Emai:firstname.lastname@example.org (08053954802)