Benue State will use the opportunity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state tomorrow to request that the Federal Government redoubles effort to end killings in parts of the community, paramount ruler of Tiv people, Tor Tiv, Mr James Ayatse, and Benue elders said yesterday.
Mr Buhari is billed to visit Benue state on Monday in continuation of his tour of states ravaged by insecurity.
Elders, opinion leaders and royal fathers from across the three senatorial districts of the state who spoke to our correspondent in Makurdi yesterday were unanimous in their expectation that the president’s visit would mark the end of unwarranted killings in the state.
Tor Tiv, Mr Ayatse, opined that the visit, although belated, was a welcomed development and would provide the president the opportunity to see for himself the level of destruction his people and kingdom have suffered in the hands of suspected herders.
Ayatse, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Freddie Adamgbe, said he had repeatedly called on the president to visit the state despite some representatives he had earlier sent in the wake of the New Year’s attack on villages by suspected herders.
The royal father said he expects that Buhari would visit the graveyard of the 73 slain people on new year’s day during his visit, ensure that the arrest of Myetti Allah Kautal Hore leadership who vowed to resist the anti-grazing law.
The monarch, who said he would be happy to receive the president, also wants victims of the devastations to be compensated and more of federal presence instituted in the state, among others.
President General of Mdzough u Tiv, a socio-cultural umbrella body of the Tiv people, Mr Edward Ujege, said the president, as the father of the nation, would be expected to deliver goodness on his arrival by bringing peace and security to the state.
“We expect that his coming would finally put an end to unnecessary killings. We believe that during the visit he would give directives to his security chiefs who include Minister of Defence and Inspector General of Police so that things would be better for us in Benue State,” Ujege said.
Speaking for Idoma socio-cultural group, Opiatoha k’ Idoma, its Secretary-General Mr Adoka Adaji, harped on the need for the Federal Government to rebuild Agatu land which was destroyed during several invasion by suspected herders.
Adoka said the Idoma people would tell the president during his visit to rehabilitate Agatu people, other parts of Idoma land as well as areas in the state which were affected by herders/farmers crisis.
“We will also let the president know that there is no going back on our ranching law. Cattle rearing is a business, so the Fulani people have to control their cattle by obeying the state law on ranching. The president should also come out clearly to condemn the killings in Benue State. That is our expectation,” he said.
Also speaking, an ex-Commissioner of Police, Mr Abubakar Tsav, said that he expects the coming of the president to mark an end of killings in the state and improve security of lives and property.
“Buhari should ensure that the killings do not happen again. I urge Benue people to speak with one voice, remain united, be patient and tolerate each other as we look forward to the future and put the ugly past behind us,” he said.
On his part, the President of Ominy’Igede, the highest socio-cultural body of the Igede ethnic group in the state, Mr Ode Enyi, said his people would expect the president to direct all security agencies in the country to enforce the anti-grazing law.
Governor Samuel Ortom, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Mr Tahav Agerzua Tahav, said President Buhari during his Monday visit, will pay a courtesy call on Chairman of the Benue State Council of Chiefs, Tor Tiv the fifth, Ayatse.
The president will hold a meeting with major stakeholders at the Benue Peoples House and shall also visit one of the eight displaced persons’ camps in the state.
Our correspondent observed yesterday that the portion of the road from Markurdi airport to the Wurukum junction roundabout of the state capital was being worked on by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in preparation for the visit.
Somebody must take responsibility for Benue killings – Obasanjo
A former president, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday emphasised the need for leaders in the country to take responsibility for killings in Benue State, in a bid to put an end to the unjustifiable loss of lives.
Obasanjo made the remarks in response to questions from newsmen when he had a stop-over in Makurdi, on his way back from Borno State, to lay wreath at the graveside of 73 people who were killed on New Year’s day in two local government areas of Logo and Guma.
“It is sad beyond description and that is why I have taken it upon myself, having been to Maiduguri, where we had a meeting of zero hunger forum, to be here to pay a condolence visit and share in the sadness of Benue people.
“We must know why it (killings) is happening and why we must put an end to it, someone must take responsibility to put an end to it. We cannot talk of a free, secure country where we will want development to take place and investors to come and be suffering this type of senselessness,” he said.