OVER 400 UNKNOWN ARMED MEN CAMP IN BENUE COMMUNITY, BENUE JOURNALISTS’ FORUM ALLEGES
…they are without women, children but with cattle
Members of Benue Journalists’ Forum Nigeria (BJFN), an association of professional journalists of Benue State extraction have called on the Inspector General of Police and Benue State Government to investigate an allegation that more than 400 unknown armed men have been camping in the mountainous community of Turan, Kwande Local Government Area of the state since early September, 2017.
The men suspected to be herders and non residents of the community, are alleged to have entered the unoccupied terrain through Cameroun border and Kashimbila, a border town between Taraba and Benue states, and are gradually moving towards the inhabited areas of the community.
We are compelled to make this disclosure based on the highly commendable whistle blowing policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration and the recent groundbreaking discovery of a fake military base in Okpokwu area of the state by the Nigerian Army on Tuesday 26th September, 2017, where the fake soldiers in the base were alleged to have been operating a criminal enterprise and training high profile criminals.
From information available to us, these herdsmen came with cattle laden with loads suspected to be arms and ammunition.
A young Tiv hunter who discovered the unknown men in the mountainous region of the community said, some of them look like people from Niger. When they heard his gun shot while chasing an antelope, they responded with over 100 gunshots; the sound of guns he has never heard before.
It could be recalled that herdsmen and their alleged sponsors had in recent time vowed to take over Benue valley by attacking it from six fronts namely, Kwande, Guma, Konshisha, Vande-Ikyaa and Gwer respectively.
These herdsmen and their alleged sponsors have threatened legal action against Benue State Government over Anti- Grazing Law and have even protested against the anti grazing bill in Taraba state.
We suspect a grand plot to destabilize the Benue Valley taking cognizance of the claim by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) at a recent press conference in Abuja that they were the first settlers in the Valley and that it belongs to them.
We are not sure if they are fleeing members of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists group who want to open a new camp in the region.
It will be recalled that a similar incident occurred in Bali and Gembu local government areas of Taraba State recently.
BJFN therefore, calls on the Federal Government to collaborate with Benue State Government to ensure that the lives and property of our people are secured as they cannot continue to live in fear in their fatherland.
The reprehensible activities of herdsmen over the past years have caused our people serious damage.
Benue people are predominantly farmers and because the government has failed in its responsibility to provide us with the basic needs of life, the only thing we have, land, should not be taken away from us.
In addition, we want to reiterate our unflinching support for the Anti Grazing Law in the state and call on the state government to make sure the law is fully implemented and enforced to the latter.
COMRADE JOSEPH SAATER UNDU
NATIONAL PRESIDENT, BENUE JOURNALISTS’ FORUM, NIGERIA
COMRADE GODWIN ANYEBE
VICE PRESIDENT, BENUE JOURNALISTS’ FORUM, NIGERIA