Benue Killings: Buratai Tells Benue To Repeal Law For Peaceful Coexistence
From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
The Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. General Tukur Buratai was in Benue state last week for on the spot assessment of crisis ravages communities. He told newsmen in this chat that rhe army will do their beat to secure lives and property in the state but that certain policies or certain laws need to be repealed or reviewed to give everybody a sense of belonging.
What exactly will you say is the major challenge faced by the military in securing these communities and how can you overcome it?
The terrain is one great challenge, especially the issue of mobility, the issue of additional troops that we intend to deploy to provide security and confidence to the locals. The most important thing is that they should support the military in terms of provision of information that will help us in flushing out the bandits or criminal elements that are operating within the environment.
What should be the effort of the state government especially in supporting the effort of the military?
There is need for more local government roads, more state government roads to be constructed apart from what the federal government is doing. So, it is very important that this issue is looked into so that we will be able to move rapidly or respond swiftly whenever there are security challenges in the area.
Can you tell us your assessment of the areas that you have visited today with your men?
Well, one very important thing that i have discovered is that the troops are well positioned and are performing the duties excellently well and they have already given the people the confidence for them to know that yes there is security and they can go back to their homes, this is very important.
We are increasing more troops to be deployed to cover the area. You know, that place is sort of where three states converge together, they have a common boundary that is Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states. So, it’s very important for us to look at it and see how we can further reinforce the troops and the mobility on the water is also very critical which we are also looking into.
Already, there is a planning committee on ground from the Defence Headquarters who are working on this and there are a lot of boats that have been brought in for deployment in the waters, so they should be rest assured the place will further be safe for them to go back and thank God it rained today and it’s a sign that better things are coming and they should go back to their farms and be rest assured there is security to be covered.
But like i said earlier, the overall security will depend on a number of factors, everybody coming to play his role and then both the state, especially the state and we the security agencies, the local governments have their role also to play in the provision of roads, provision of social amenities, they are quite fundamental so we hope they will look at it critically and see how they can improve the terrain in terms of movement, in the provision of roads. You saw how difficult it was when it rained for us to come out.
We went in smoothly although it is a rough road but coming out after the rain was something else, so, i think something by the state, by the local government could be done. And as i said earlier too, certain policies or certain laws need to be repealed or reviewed to give everybody a sense of belonging. I think that is very fundamental and if it’s done, it will help us a lot to wade off some of these insecurities but one point is that there are so many intruding criminals in both sides. Both in the side of the herders and the locals.
We shouldn’t give them that chance to cause disharmony because the insecurity challenge we have on hand is enough. But by and large, security is every body’s responsibility, you press too have something to contribute to the overall security.
There is this fear in the minds of Benue people about the arrest of the Commandant of the Benue State Livestock Guard, Alh. Aliyu Tershaku based on what your people called intelligence report. One had anticipated that your men would rather go after the leaders of Miyeti Allah who openly announced they were going to attack Benue. Don’t you think this is a misplaced priority that your men have gone to arrest someone who openly proved his innocence when Mr. President visited Benue?
Investigation is still on, if we find anybody directly involved in any criminal activity, definitely, he will be arrested accordingly, so this is an investigation, arrest has been made by the appropriate agencies as well as any other group that is involved, definitely, if an investigation has any connection with them, we will definitely get across to the appropriate agencies to make the arrest.
So, it is an investigation based on intelligence if we have concrete intelligence on any other group, be rest assured we will take appropriate actions. What we are doing now is focus on the criminal elements who are on the ground who are causing havoc, that is what is happening.
There are instances where these herdsmen appear in military uniforms to carry out these attacks, what will you say about that sir?
Well, we know these are criminal elements just one around Nasarawa State around that Agatu across the other side. We have report where these elements came out, attacked and burnt some houses in that regard.
Don’t forget that there are inter tribal conflicts also fuelling these crises and we hope the relevant authorities, the relevant community leaders will come out and ensures that their youths, their indigenes don’t perpetrate this type of crime. The Civil Society also have a very important role to play but by and large, this is essentially a police role we are only supporting the police and the civil authorities but we will do our best.
During the trip, the MUE TER LOGO, CHIEF Enoch Ikyumen (3RD CLASS) and Chaotman of the LG, Richard Nyajo also spoke to newsmen.
How has the presence of the military changed the security situation in the communities under your jurisdiction?
I really want to appreciate the presence of the Platoon Commander here in Anyibe and other villages in our communities here. The Platoon Commander has been working very well. His coming here has changed a lot of things. It has given us a lot of hope but we need more soldiers on ground here because the task of keeping peace is not an easy one.
We are suffering. Our people are suffering. We want to return back to our homes and continue with our faming activities. When we plant yams, the Fulani people will come, remove the seedlings and keep for their cows to eat. They are grazing on our Cassava farms. With the visit of the Chief of Army Staff, we want more soldiers to be sent here so that these Fulani people can leave our land.
HON. RICHARD NYAJO CHAIRMAN LOGO LGA
How will you describe this area before the coming of the military?
This area used to be very peaceful until 2013 when things began to take a different dimension. We used to welcome and stay friendly with the Fulanis who usually came in during the dry season and go back when the rain sets in, carrying shepherd stick. This new development began to scare our people. Precisely in 2013, the Fulani people started coming in with sophisticated weapons like AK47, destroying peoples farms and then refusing to go back as they used to do.
What’s the situation now?
The situation now is that they have killed and displaced people from their homes. Some of the people who managed to survive the attacks have fled and are afraid of returning back because the Fulanis have taken over these houses. Some of them have ran to stay with relations in faraway places. Others are currently staying in the three IDP Camps that we have set up in Gindin Mangoro, Agatu and Azege.
The few that have come back to farm, anytime they plant their crops, the Fulani people will go there and destroy the crops. This situation scared our people because they have never had this kind of experience before.
In what area can the local government be of assistance to the military who are on ground to protect the area?
Information is very critical in situations like this. We are prepared to provide them with useful information as regards the areas where we can give them. We are ready to give them information on areas that are tough and difficult where they cannot easily penetrate for them to push these people so that peace can return.