Army arrest 9 militia in Benue

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Men of the Nigerian Army
Nigerian Army arrests militia in Benue

By Johnson Eyiangho

Troops of 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed in Takum, Taraba, have arrested nine members of alleged sponsored armed militia known as Civilian JTF at Arufu, a boundary town between Taraba and Benue.

A top military source in Abuja, who confirmed the story to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that at the time of arrest, five of them were armed with AK-45 rifles fully loaded.

The source said that shortly after their apprehension, a reinforcement of CJTF came to prevent troops from transporting the suspects to the Battalion Headquarters.

“However, when the soldiers stood their ground the armed militia’s reinforcement withdrew.

“During the preliminary investigation the arrested CJTF claimed that the weapons were issued to them by Benue State government through one Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku.

“The suspects also confirmed that they were 60 in number in their own camp located at Gbeyi, Benue State.

“However, further investigation revealed that they were more than 1,000 at the camp, while over 700 of them bear arms,” the source said.

He said that the suspects claimed they were being paid a monthly stipend of N15,000 by the state government.

According to him, they also alleged the state is owing them close to five months salary.

“They further revealed that they were trained by selected ex-service men assembled from all over Benue State,” the source added.

However, in its reaction the state government denied the claim

“We wish to state categorically that the Benue State Government under Governor Samuel Ortom has not recruited any militia group and armed them since the Governor assumed office,” Mr Terver Akase the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Samuel Ortom said on Tuesday in Makurdi.

Akase said in a statement that the governor was widely recognised for his disarmament policy which brought the amnesty programme leading to the recovery of about 700 arms and ammunition with over 800 youths laying down their weapons to embrace the programme across the State.

“It is also on record that the present administration inherited the State Civilian Joint Task Force from the previous government but later proscribed it. ‘’

He said following the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in the state last year, the government set up Livestock Guards to help in implementation of the law.

“The Livestock Guards are not armed personnel. Their job is to ensure compliance with the regulation of ranches establishment and prohibition of open grazing of animals in the State.

“The Benue State Government believes in the use of conventional security agencies to protect the people.

“Even in the face of renewed killing of innocent people by herdsmen in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas, Governor Ortom did not let the people resort to self-help.

“The Governor acted swiftly to get the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the deployment of more troops to troubled parts of the State,” Akase said.

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1 comment

  1. objwriters&analysts Reply

    Article written and first published June 2, 2017·


    The daring and
    audacious threat by the leadership of Fulani cattle rearers to “mobilize
    their members” to resist the implementation of Benue state grazing
    regulation law is a recipe for chaos and conflagration capable of
    setting Nigeria ablaze and destroying her. Put succinctly, it is capable
    of igniting an armed conflict she will not survive as a state.

    Recall that the Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom had signed into law
    ,on 22 May, 2017 Open Rearing and Grazing regulation bill passed by the
    Benue State House of Assembly on Thursday, May 4, 2017.

    leadership of Fulani cattle herders in Nigeria met in Abuja on Tuesday
    30th May 2017and vehemently expressed their opposition to implementation
    of the grazing regulation law. They went further and threatened to stop
    implementation of the law.

    The leadership of Fulani cattle
    herders called Maiyetti Allah Kautal Hore, made their position known in a
    media briefing on Tuesday by the National President of the Association,
    Alhaji Abdullahi Bello and Secretary, Alhaji Saleh Alhassan.

    the briefing in Abuja, they not only kicked against the anti-open
    grazing law, but vowed to mobilise their members to resist its
    implementation, describing the law as “wicked, obnoxious, repressive and
    a deliberate attempt to enslave them.”

    In a swift reaction to
    the threat to stop implementation of the grazing regulation bill, the
    Benue state commissioner for Information and Orientation Lawrence Onoja
    jnr, in a statement yesterday, entitled Anti-Open Grazing Law Has Come
    to Stay, described the Miyetti Allah’s stand as “a threat to peace”.

    In the statement released in Makurdi on Thursday 1st June 2017,
    Commissioner Lawrence clarifies that “the grazing regulation only seeks
    to confine the rearing and grazing of cattle to confined ranches, which
    is in line with international best practice for animal husbandry as well
    as legal provisions prohibiting loitering of animals”.

    MY TAKE:

    For me, there is no doubt that the threat by the umbrella body of
    Fulani cattle herders to “mobilise their members” to oppose
    implementation of Benue state grazing regulation law is not an empty one
    and therefore a threat to peace, law and order in Benue state and by
    extension, Nigeria.

    From Southern Kaduna to Plateau, Nassarawa,
    Taraba, Kogi, Edo, Enugu, Delta, Abia, Ondo and other states in Nigeria,
    Fulani herdsmen and militias have demonstrated their capacity and
    penchant for wanton destruction and mass murder by killing thousands of
    farmers and villagers; burning down villages, raping women and taking
    over ancestral lands belonging to indigenous Nigerians, all in the name
    of “grazing rights” for them and their cattle.

    It is against this
    backdrop that the audacious threat by the umbrella body of Fulani
    cattle herders in Nigeria to “mobilise their members” with a view to
    stopping implementation of Benue state grazing regulation bill should
    not be taken for granted.

    Mobilising their members to stop
    implementation of Benue grazing regulation law can only mean unleashing
    of more violence and death on innocent farmers and indigenes of Benue
    and destruction of more farmlands, crops and communities by rampaging
    armed Fulani herdsmen.

    Any unprovoked acts of further violence by
    Fulani herdsmen and militia against the people of Benue amounts to a
    declaration of war by Fulani herdsmen against other Nigerians and it is
    capable pf throwing Nigeria into a state of conflagration that she will
    not survive.

    The assertion above becomes truer when one takes
    into consideration the fact that the Buhari administration, has in the
    past two years of being in power continue to shield and protect killer
    herdsmen with state security apparata like the police, army and the DSS.

    It is on record for instance, that the ‘IG’ of Nigeria Police, Idris
    once took side with Fulani herdsmen responsible for killing of hundreds
    of people in Southern Kaduna by accusing Christian leaders in the state
    of “inflating the figure/number of those killed” and “making inciting
    statements capable of worsening the crisis in the state” instead of
    protecting the victims, ordering arrest of the killers and handing them
    over to the judiciary for prosecution. More so, Nigeria’s Interior
    Minister Danbazau had also said on Channels TV live programme in June
    2016, that Buhari’s government would not deploy troops to check
    murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria. This is even as
    same government has deployed soldiers a number of times to protect
    cattle rearers and fight “cattle rustling” and recover ‘stolen’ cattle
    for Fulani herders.

    Here are my humble submissions as I bring this article to conclusion:

    The call by Benue state House of Assembly on the Inspector General of
    Police, Idris, to arrest leaders of the umbrella body of cattle herders
    in Nigeria for threatening to stop implementation of the state grazing
    regulation law will fall on deaf ears.

    This is because IG Idris
    only obeys the body language of his boss, Buhari, who is the ‘Grand
    Patron’ of cattle rearers in Nigeria and has amply demonstrated that he
    represents only Fulani interest by turning his eyes the other way while
    Fulani herdsmen and militias kill and maim lives in Nigeria, destroy
    farmlands/crops, rape women and take over lands belong to indigenous
    Nigerians in the name of “cattle rearing and grazing rights” for them.

    Should the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers of Nigeria go
    ahead and carry out its threat to stop implementation of Benue state
    grazing regulation law and the IG of Police fail to act as he has always
    done, the good and peace-loving people of Benue would have no any other
    option left than to arm themselves and defend their lives from being
    maimed and their land from further annexation by aggressive and lawless
    armed Fulani herdsmen enjoying state support from Buhari’s government.

    The implication of this if it happened is that it is capable of
    spilling into other states of the federation and throwing Nigeria into a
    serious armed conflict she will not survive as a state in view of
    anger, frustration and resentment in the land as result of unabated
    atrocious and murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen mostly in the past
    two years under Buhari’s pretentious watch and supervision.

    Frank, Chukwuka Osimi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. He is a historian and a
    commentator on Nigerian and global affairs. Full responsibility is
    taken for any errors in this article.

    Article written and first published June 2, 2017.