The Paramount Ruler of the Tiv nation, Orchivirigh, Prof. James Ayatse, has cries out that the Tiv people are being massacred by Fulani herdsmen in Nasarawa and other states where they are found.
He said that between January 1st to date, over 40 peasant farmers of the Tiv extraction in Nasarawa state have been killed by the herdsmen and the Nasarawa state government has not done anything about the killings.
The Tor Tiv made the revelation while raising certain concerns to the Sub Committee headed by Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, on Sunday night in Makurdi even as Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has told his Plateau state counterpart, Simon Lalong, to stop meddling in the affairs of Benue and mind his business.
The meeting, which started at about 8:30pm Sunday night came to a close shortly after midnight on Monday morning.
The Umahi Sub Committee has been mandated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to visit some of the states affected by herdsmen attack and find ways of resolving the crisis.
Ortom was reacting to the statement made by Governor Lalong that he had cautioned him (Ortom) against the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
The Governor who spoke shortly after the Committee had taken the submission of the people of the state explained that Lalong had said he apologised to Ortom because the pressure had been too much on him.
He pointed out that at a meeting of the Vice President Committee in which Ortom was represented by his Deputy Benson Abounu, Lalong had said that he stood by his words.
Ortom however said Lalong was being economical with the truth, adding that at no point in time had the Plateau State Governor cautioned him against the implementation of the law.
The Benue Governor, who used the same medium to send his message, advised Governor Lalong to mind his business.
He said, “Tell him (Lalong) to mind Plateau business and I will mind Benue business.”
On the issue of the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law, Ortom said Benue was still looking up to the Federal Government that has sworn to protect lives and property.
He said: “If we are wrong in enacting the law let the Federal Government come out and tell us and nothing short of this is accepted.”
The Governor advised the Umahi Committee to do the needful and ensure that the Committee gets it right.
Also making his submission during the meeting, the Tor Tiv said the traditional council also has the details of those that have been killed by herdsmen in Nasarawa, including the names of those killed.
While he reiterated that the attackers were camped in Nasarawa, he lamented that the activities of the herdsmen have displaced his people in their numbers.
He said, “That law is Benue law; its the people that have that law. If perchance the Governor says he is tired, we (Benue people) shall not be tired” of the law.”
Ayatse questioned the motive of the Committee since it was already being undermined by comments from senior government officials; comments that indicate that a position has already been taken on the matter or that the report of the Committee may end up not seeing the light of day.
The Tor Tiv said he abhors the strategy that things will continue to go the way they were while the Committee was still working.
The paramount ruler also lamented the turnout of members of the Committee “as serious as this” which he expects there should be at least two thirds of the members to be present at an all-important occasions as the hearing.
He was also worried that “Leaders are not concerned with the perception of the people, the Benue people feel there is an agenda to take over the land.”
He raised other concerns such as, “What is fate of Benue in such a set-up? Is there any sincerity? Where is the report going to be taken to when the President says accommodate these people?”
Ayatse also stated that the Benue people do not have confidence in Operation “Ayem Akpatuma”, adding that the grace period given for the commencement of the operations is “to allow the enemy fizzle out” and if the herdsmen move out “what is the cat coming to do? What is the aim of this Operation Cat Race?”