The Tiv Area Traditional Council (TATC) on Tuesday, January 9 said it had concluded plans to report to the global community and International Criminal Court, the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen, including the recent killing of natives in Benue state. The TATC also predicted that President Muhammadu Buhari would not score any vote if he seeks re-election in 2019, except “he loves his political future” and tackles the menace of Fulani herdsmen in Benue state “and bring a solution once and for all.”
“Of course, Buhari is a Fulani man, he has cattle. But if he loves his political future, he should tackle this matter and bring a solution once and for all because Benue state voted massively for him (in 2015); now, if he contests again (in 2019) and vote is cast, he will get zero vote from Benue state” TATC said.
The pan-cultural organisation also rejected the decision by the federal government to designate cattle colonies in different parts of the country and demanded a definition of it. Speaking on behalf of the council, its legal adviser, Chief Edward Ashiekaa (SAN), stated that the position of the Benue state House of Assembly on anti-Open Grazing Bill enacted recently, was very clear.
His words: “The law has come into being, it has prohibited open-grazing and every citizen must obey this law. The law has also protected cattle owners by prohibiting cattle rustling and providing stiff penalties. The cattle herders are bent on disobeying these laws. “The international community has to come into it. We are going to the embassies, United Nations and even the International Criminal Court to ventilate our grievances.
We are taking bold steps to inform the world that we are law abiding citizens. “We have no capacity to fight the Fulani herdsmen; knowing the type of sophisticated weapons they have, our rural people cannot fight them. We want to win this war at the battle front, we don’t have the capacity to do that. We will win it at the international level and at the federal level.”
Ashiekaa challenged the federal government to explain what it meant by “cattle colonies”, when, for instance, the Benue state government has enacted laws prohibiting open grazing, which was resisted by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association with serious threats. He said: “The federal government has no right to enact the law nullifying the law which has been enacted by the Benue state government. Under the constitution, they don’t have the right.
“As of now the Benue state government has enacted laws prohibiting open grazing. If you bring the aspect of cattle colony and it fits into our definition of ranching, we will accept it. But as of now there is no definition of cattle colony. “Miyetti Allah has come out severally to say they will disobey the law; they don’t recognise the law, the law is against their interest, so they will not obey it. Have you ever heard of such a thing in this country? The issue is whether or not the Benue state House of Assembly as a legislature has a right to enact the law that it did.”
The TATC also expressed displeasure over the position of the Inspector-General of Police, that the recent killing in Benue state was caused by a communal clash. Ashiekaa said: “Does he know what communal is? The man is highly educated, otherwise he wouldn’t have risen to the position of IGP. But the whole world know that they are Fulani herdsmen, some are not even Nigerians but brought in just to create problems for the people and you are calling it communal clashes!
“The man should withdraw that statement and state the fact. As I am still talking to you there are still clashes ongoing between the herdsmen and the local people who are helpless, they are not armed. “You will recall that at the inception of the Samuel Ortom’s administration in Benue State, he pleaded with the hoodlums to surrender their weapons under an amnesty program. It is even painful to say that President Muhammadu Buhari is involved in it.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari and the governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom, met at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, January 9, over the herdsmen killings. At the meeting, the president assured Governor Ortom of his government’s commitment to the security of lives and property in Benue state and elsewhere. “We have deployed additional security resources to fish out the attackers, bring them to justice, and prevent further attacks,” the president said.