We continue our discourse and the concluding part of the Agatu genocide this week.
REMOTE CAUSES OF THE CRISIS:
THE AGATU COMMUNITY VERSION
The problem, according to the Agatu Community, has always been about farmlands. In 1986, sequel to the destruction of farmlands by the Fulani cattle and the killing of a woman on her farm, they were driven away by the people of Agatu. Now, the Fulanis, according to Achega, want to come back and they think the way to go about it is to attack their people, kill or drive away the survivors and then occupy their lands.
On the immediate cause of the current crisis, the monarch said:
“The present attacks started as a result of the problems the Fulani herdsmen had with Tiv people. There was a peace meeting to be held to settle the matter. Unfortunately Tiv people ambushed the Fulani leaders on their way to Ocholoyan and the Fulani blamed Agatu people for the attacks.
Since that 2013, the Fulani people said they wouldn’t agree to a settlement and, in January 2015 alone, they have attacked us more than four times but each time they come, my people repel them and they have been fighting with mercenaries.”
He disclosed that although the Benue State Government had organized several peace meetings in the past, the meetings had only been between Tiv and Fulani. They have never involved the Agatu people.
ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF MERCENARIES
Oche Achega said his concern heightened, following the discovery that the Fulani raiders were also hiring mercenaries from Mali and Chad to fight Agatu people. In the process of repelling the attackers, the Agatu vigilante, he stated, discovered that some of them were indeed not Fulanis and had no idea of the terrain of the theatre of war.
NO SECURITY COVERAGE
The monarch lamented how the State and Federal Governments had abandoned his people to be slaughtered like beasts on their land. He said that it was only the initial attacks that attracted any form of response from the government as a few policemen and soldiers were sent there, but that it was only after the attackers had carried out the killings and destruction of their properties worth billions of Naira.
The negligence appears to be at all levels. The state government hasn’t made any discernable and serious effort to curb the attacks. The only time government had showed concern was when it sent a detachment of soldiers after the attack on Abogbe Community and left not quite long thereafter.
Currently, there is hardly any visible security presence in the area. Numerous people on the coastal lines are no longer in their houses. The security agencies just occupy the communities for a short while and then leave with a promise to come back, but they never do because they know Agatu people would fight back. What kind of Country is this? Where is Section 14 of the Constitution which talks about the provision of security and welfare to the people being primary purpose of government.
VIGILANTE TO THE RESCUE
According to the chief, the only resemblance of security in Agatu are the local vigilantes who are essentially young men who chose to die in the battle to repel Fulani attackers than stay in their parents’ homes and be shot dead or burnt. He regretted that the boys had no arms to match the attackers’ sophisticated weapons.
Neither the Federal, nor State Government has shown much concern for the Agatu people in this regard, because there is no presence of security personnel in the affected communities. I believe this is pure negligence of governments at all levels. Could this be because the government is overwhelmed by grave insecurity across the country? Is the government incapacitated in fighting insurgency and insecurity? Can it, for heaven’s sake, tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
AGATU’S PATHETIC PLEA
The Agatu people are not asking for much. Just a detachment of Mobile Police Force to the coastal lines like Abogbe, Ocholanya and Ogbanchenyi that have been sacked. The people are in the bush and there is no more land for them to farm. To be sure, Okpanchenyi is the town that produces the bulk of the food that is consumed in Benue State and beyond. Agatu people are mostly farmers and major agricultural contributors to the Nation. And now that they are supposed to be preparing for the rainy season, they cannot do so because of fear. Hear what they have to say:
“We want government to take a step to reconcile the Fulani herdsmen and Agatu farmers as it is seen in the civilised world. Agatu is ready for peace. I want to urge the state and federal governments to take practical steps to secure our villages. Farming is very important to us. What oil is to the Ogoni and other Niger Delta people is what agriculture is to our people. Just as oil contributes to the nation’s economy, our farming contributes a great deal to the economy of this nation. Therefore, we should be allowed to pursue our legitimate means of livelihood without hindrance from any group of people in the country. We are on our ancestral land and we have nowhere else to go”.
There is nothing more to add to this pathetic plea from an embattled people undergoing genocidal attacks.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that out of the 10 council wards in Agatu Local Government Area, only one ward was not affected in the bloody attacks. This is extremely sad. This is calling on the Federal and State Government and all security agencies to rise up to the occasion and halt further bloodletting, arson and misery of the Agatu people. The issue of Fulani cattle herdsmen as regards grazing purposes should be tackled once and for all. The clashes between them and indigenes of towns across Nigeria are becoming too incessant, too embarrassing and certainly making a mockery of our security network and desire to live peacefully and harmoniously together as one Nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that out of the 10 council wards in Agatu Local Government Area, only one ward was not affected in the bloody attacks. This is extremely sad. This is calling on the Federal and State government and all security agencies to rise up to the occasion and halt further bloodletting, arson and misery of the Agatu people. The issue of Fulani cattle herdsmen as regards grazing purposes should be tackled once and for all. The clashes between them and indigenes of towns across Nigeria are becoming too incessant, embarrassing and making a mockery of our security network and desire to live peacefully together as one Nation.
THE BRUTE MILITARILIZATION OF
RIVERS RE-RUN ELECTION
In 2014, President Buhari and APC during their campaigns, lambasted GEJ for sending 500 security men to organize Ekiti governorship election. They argued that the military was being politicised.
Now, in 2016, for a mere re-run election in Rivers State, the same Buhari sent the COAS, Buratai, AIG, Zone 6, Baba Bolanta, Three COPs, 6,000 regular policemen, 16 Units of Police Mobile Force, 2000 Men of Civil Defence.
In all, over 20,000 security personnel were brutally used for the same purpose for a mere Rerun election. Those who think that we are like the Bourbons of European history who learnt nothing and forgot nothing, may be right after all. The whole world is watching.
Are the people of Agatu, the Fulanis, Benue State Governor, the Federal Government, Rivers State Governor, Nigerians, etal, reading and digesting this Sunday sermon on the mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR?