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Unending bloodbaths: Benue, Plateau peoples’ lives matter

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SIR: The unending records of killings of people in Benue State – one of the states in Nigeria must not continue unabated. The situation characterises a failed society without leadership. The incessant mayhem – massacres and destruction of possessions, be it ethnic, religious or politically-motivated must stop. Human lives cannot continue to be wasted as if in Hollywood or Nollywood tragedies, or as if they are animals for slaughter in abattoirs. The countless lives lost in those crises are gone for eternity. The huge losses, injuries and destruction of properties are real and not like those Chico Ejiro’s screenplays. Many families have lost loved ones including parents, innocent children and treasured members of the family to the heinous crimes against humanity. It has become a case of endless dirges and mourning.

Over time, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has always bashed President Muhammadu Buhari on account that the herdsmen are mostly Fulani, the president’s ethnic nationality. Observably, these have become the governor’s visible actions to the endless violent disturbances and genocides. Measuring from Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which provides “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,” the governor has failed in his duties to protect lives and properties in his domain. A leader must be proactive. A state governor must take charge and ensure that the territory is cool and calm at every point in time. President Buhari had charged governors to take charge in their domains.

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Remarkably, Kogi State which is adjacent to Benue had earlier witnessed similar ugly scenes but the governor, Yahaya Bello sat down and fashioned a lasting solution that successfully tamed the deadly regular violence in Kogi. The governor convened a stakeholders meeting involving warring groups, set up a joint committee involving host-communities, farmers and herdsmen with powers to monitor activities and control excesses to prevent retributive or retaliatory violence which usually escalates losses in the area.

Instructively, former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” It is difficult to eliminate differences considering that each person has his thoughts in all cultures, races and societies.

Again, many have called for absolute ban of open-grazing on account that it is antediluvian and promotes ethnic crisis in the society. Admitted, that’s a good idea and supports civilisation. However, it can realistically succeed by gradual process and not immediate ban as cattle-rearing has existed for centuries and become a livelihood to some persons.

So, Mr Governor, take charge and stop the bloodbaths. Ortom must therefore strategically change approaches for a lasting peace in Benue. Ditto to Plateau governor, and other states constantly facing ethnic and religious crisis that always results to bloodbaths. People’s lives matter.
Carl Umegboro is a certified arbitrator, public affairs analyst and social crusader.

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