The three main socio-cultural groups in Benue State – Mdzough-u-Tiv, Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny’Igede – have called for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Dan-Ali, whom they accused of compromising his office by failing to send the military to Benue State since the latest crisis started, while he was quick to advice the deployment of troops to other parts of the country.
Alternatively, the groups would want President Muhammadu Buhari to sack and prosecute Dan-Ali for alleged complicity in the murder of innocent Benue State citizens.
In a press statement issued in Abuja Saturday, the Benue State groups further demanded that should Buhari fail to sack the Defence Minister, the National Assembly to should immediately investigate the President’s role in the Benue State killings with the view to possibly impeaching him if found wanting in the performance of his duties by failing to avert the killings of the Benue State people after several complaints and official report by the State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and the three socio-cultural organisations.
The statement, jointly signed by Chief Edward Ujege, the President-General, Mdzough-u-Tiv; Amale Adoya Amale, the President-General, Idoma Nation Forum; and Chief Ode Enyi, the President-General, Omi Ny’Igede, was in response to what the groups described as the reckless, highly provocative, un-statesmanly and divisive comments by Dan-Ali on the “sustained senseless and organised killings of Benue people by the Fulani herdsmen”.
They were miffed that the Defence Minister “in his comments attributed the unprovoked barbaric murder of innocent and defencelss children, pregnant women and the aged in Benue State to the enactment of the Anti-Open Grazing Law by the Government of Benue State.
“We are extremely saddened by the public show of partiality, partisanship by the Minister of Defence whose oath of office requires of him to defend the territorial integrity and all peoples of Nigeria including the good people of Benue state from both internal and external aggression.
“We hasten to ask this critical question: If the killings in Benue were as a result of the anti-Open Grazing law, to what will the Minister attribute the killings of farmers by Fulani Herdsmen and wanton destruction of farms and property in Adamawa, Plateau, Ondo, Edo, Nasarawa and other states of the Federation in recent weeks where such a law is not in place?.
“The Minister has by his statements on a national Television network clearly demonstrated that he has grossly compromised the oath of his office by openly endorsing the blood-letting in Benue.
“We hasten to declare that there can be no justification to take human life under any circumstance in the manner the Minister shamelessly justified in the Television programme.”
They contended that the Defence Minister’s provocative statement, which came shortly after an equally condemnable remark by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, that the January 1, 2018 cold blooded killings of over 70 people in Guma and Logo LGAs of Benue State were results of communal clash, “has reinforced our earlier held suspicion that the Fulani Herdsmen have been acting with the full backing of top government officials in the Buhari-led administration”.
They called on the international community to wade into the gross violation of the right to life of hapless Benue State people and the unwholesome destruction of their farms and other means of livelihood.
The statement said: “We are grateful to the various socio-cultural groups across the country notably the Afenifere, Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, the South-South People, human rights and pro-democracy activists and organisations, religious groups, Elder statesmen, opposition political parties, state Governors, members of the National Assembly, Traditional Rulers, the Media and other well-meaning Nigerians, who have resolutely stood by us by opening condemning the genocide against Benue people.”