DANIEL AGBO, in this piece, evaluates the intrigues and crux of President Mohammadu Buhari’s recent visit to Benue state, as well as comments, reactions trailing the visit
Delay in Buhari’s visit President Mohammadu Buhari, last Monday visited Benue state and held a meeting with stakeholders and various groups in the state.
The president arrived Makurdi Airport at 10:43 a.m and was driven straight to the Benue People’s House, where the meeting took place.
Part of Buhari’s visit was to condole with the people over killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen and to reassure them that the administration shared in their grief.
Benue state had the past suffered insecurity occasioned by the herdsmen attacks on farming communities in the state.
According to Blueprint investigations, 12 local governments out of the 23 in Benue state, had been ravaged by the herdsmen attacks.
Our investigation revealed that more than 2000 people lost their lives, with about N100 billion worth of property of the local farmers in the state destroyed.
Ortom’s challenge The Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom, assumed leadership of the state on 29 May, 2015.
But few months after the governor assumed office, herdsmen struck, this time in Agatu, killing about 300 persons.
This prompted governor Ortom to promulgate the law prohibiting open grazing, which also provided for establishment of ranches.
But shortly after the bill was signed into law, Miyetti Allah Kauttal Hore, held a press conference in Abuja led by their president, Alhaji Bell Badejo, and described the law as obnoxious, targeted at criminalising their source of livelihood.
The group also during the press conference threatened to mobilise their members across West Africa to resist the law.
On January 1, 2018, while the local farmers were celebrating new year, the herdsmen attacked communities in Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue state, and killed 73 persons.
The state was thrown into mourning.
Bodies of children, pregnant women who had their womb slit open, and foetus removed, littered the communities, even men slaughtered like animals in their sleep.
During Governor Ortom’s visit to the affected areas he announced mass burial for the victims.
Dashed hope But as the victims were buried, many had expected President Buhari to visit the state to condole with people over the loss.
Few days after the New Year killings, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Idris Ibrahim, addressed some journalists in Abuja and said the problem in Benue was a communal clash.
When summoned by the national assembly, the IG had also told the legislators that unless Benue suspends the laws the insecurity situation in the state would continue.
Benue people were visibly angry over the comment of the IGP.
They faulted the IGP for referring to the killings in the state as communal clash.
The Senator representing Benue North-East Senatorial District, Barnabas Gemade, in his reaction to the issue said the IGP lacked the maturity to remain in the position.
He said there was fundamental dislocation in the security system in Nigeria, and urgent steps needed to be taken to overhaul the system.
Gemade who was speaking in an interview with newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue state capital said it was clear that security in the country particularly the police at its present state has no capability of effectively performing its duty.