IN a bid to restore normalcy in Agatu communities of Benue/Nasarawa States, the Benue State government has constituted a joint Agatu and Fulani Peace Committee to end prolonged bloody clashes between the two tribes.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship (NCGF), yesterday, faulted Federal Government’s proposal of establishing grazing reserves as way out of the incessant clashes, arguing that establishment of ranches would bring about permanent solution.
At the peace meeting, Governor Samuel Ortom, who was represented by his deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu, expressed dismay that despite all their efforts at bringing the crisis to an end, it has persisted with deleterious consequences to the people and the economy of the state. He stated that attacks on the Agatu people were carried out by Fulani herdsmen from Nasarawa State and called on the two parties to sheathe their sword and give chance for dialogue and peaceful living.
The meeting mandated the vice chairman of the Peace Committee, Ardo Orih Abdullahi to get the Fulani, who are currently on the Benue side of the River Benue back to Nasarawa State for the time being. But since it’s dry season, the Fulani cows are allowed to drink water from the River Benue, provided it is done on the Nasarawa State side of the riverbank.
The meeting further mandated the two governors; Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa) to undertake a fact-finding visit to Agatu communities to assess and properly appreciate the level of destruction caused by the attackers.
While warning the Fulani herdsmen in the area to restrain their cows from entering into people’s farms to destroy their farm crops, the stakeholders further agreed that anybody found culpable would take full responsibilities for any destruction caused. In a similar vein, the native farmers were also cautioned not to rustle Fulani cows or take laws into their hands, but to report to the law enforcement agencies when provoked.
Speaking after their meeting in Benin, President of NCGF, Dr. Samuel Itina told journalists that creating grazing reserves would further worsen the crisis, as it may lead to the herdsmen having exclusive access to the areas, which is not safe in these days of terrorism.
He said the fear became more important after the police claimed that some of the herdsmen are not from Nigeria.
If the Nigerian government does not want to be an accomplice in the progrom of inestimable proportion that will certainly result from its irrational knee-jerk approach to solving the Fulani aggression and assault on innocent Nigerians, then, the resolution to provide grazing reserve across the country should be quietly withdrawn.
“The appalling side of the grazing reserve plan is that for some years now, the Fulani herders have intensified the use of sophisticated weapons in killing the unarmed and unprepared farmers who never expected such militancy challenges from them. And these Fulani herders go to the extra extent of destroying the farmers’ farmlands and razing down their settlements” he urged the federal government to establish cattle ranches and encourage farmers in other parts to grow grass as is the case in Saudi Arabia, which Operates the largest ranch in the world and grows its grass in the United States of America,” he said.
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