Following the moves by the Federal Government to introduce cattle colonies in the country as a panacea to the clashes between farmers and herdsmen, the Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOMBEN) has rejected the idea, vowing never to cede any land from the geopolitical zone for such project.
The pressure group, in a statement signed by its national chairman, Sule Kwasau and Secretary, Reverend James Pam, said the idea of creating grazing colonies across for the Fulani herdsmen was obnoxious and objectionable.
”The idea of creating grazing colonies on our farmlands as a solution is obnoxious and objectionable to us. It’s a subtle attempt by one tribe to take over our God-given, ancestral land and eventually take over the whole country. We totally reject the idea and vouch not to cede any land for such a project,” the statement said.
The group expressed “shock and consternation over the gory killings of Benue State citizens by Fulani militia in cold blood” and sympathised with the governor, Samuel Ortom, the Tor Tiv and the entire people of the state over the tragedy.
It urged the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility of protecting life and property, accusing government of demonstrating bias in its attitude towards “the Fulani militia that terrorising the Middle Belt, the South-West, the South-South and the South-East States.”
The body warned that without adequate protection from government, the communities coming under frequent attacks from Fulani herdsmen would have no option but to arm themselves for self defence.
According to the group, “the only plausible and permanent solution to these unwarranted murderous attacks is the restructuring of Nigeria as recommended by the 2014 national conference.”
The group endorsed the decision reached by the cultural and political leaders of the South-West, South-South, South-East and Middle Belt during the recent “Handshake Across The Niger” festival that there would be no general election in 2019 if Nigeria is not restructured.
In a related development, a group christened Plateau Youth G17 Peace and Progress Forum has described the statement credited to Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State against his Benue State counterpart, Governor Ortom as not only disturbing and sad but disappointing.
The group said the statement had shown clearly that Governor Lalong was yet to come to come to terms with the threats of insecurity staring at him in his state.
The group, in a statement by its coordinator, Mr Dachung Bagos, berated Lalong for his utterances which it said were uncharitable and without empathy to the present predicament of the people at a trying period.
“We distant ourselves completely from such careless disposition which has shown his inability to comprehend the interest of his people,” said the group.
The group enjoined Governor Ortom to remain resolute to policies and programmes that would keep his people and state safe and not be discouraged by those bent on disrupting the peace, unity, security, growth and development of the state.