Following the killing of scores of people in three local government areas of Plateau State, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) Wednesday called on the federal government to arrest leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
The call came as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Wednesday said 218 persons were killed during the crisis, against 86 reported by the police.
MBF said that with leadership of Miyetti claiming that the attacks were retaliatory, there should be no delay on the part of government in arresting leaders of the association.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, said the entire Middle Belt had been under siege for the past two decades, saying states like Southern Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Southern Borno and Plateau had been the theatres of an undeclared war.
“A few days ago, Plateau state was once again the theatre of barbaric, unspeakable, despicable and demonic massacre of our people. Over 200 persons were murdered by persons purported to be Fulani herdsmen’’, the forum added.
“Our conclusion therefore, is that this is evidence of high level complicity by the security forces. The recent twist to the genocide in the Middle Belt is that after each round of these killings, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) or the Miyetti Allah Kautal Haure have claimed responsibility for the killings.
“In Benue and Taraba, the Miyetti Allah opposed the passage of the Anti -Open Grazing Prohibition Laws of those states and openly declared that the killings were a direct consequence of their opposition. Just a few days ago and immediately after the genocide in Plateau, the Miyetti Allah claimed responsibility and their justification was that over 300 cows were stolen by some indigenous Berom youths.”
Pogu maintained that in all of these cases, the leadership of the Miyetti Allah had neither been arrested nor had the government banned the ‘’murderous’’ organisation.
The forum also called on the President to immediately direct arrest of the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) for investigation and prosecution, and also immediately direct the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to set in motion the process for the proscription of these two organisations.
Explaining the negative impact of the killings, Pogu stressed that though the forum was not concerned about politics, the increasing cases of killings would in the long run reduce the voting strength of the Middle Belt region in the 2019 general elections.
He added, “Naturally when such genocide happened, people are going to move, and it is going to affect the voting strength of the Middle Belt.”
The group accused the security agencies of complacency, calling on President Buhari to immediately reconstitute the top echelon of the security forces. It said the peoples of the Middle Belt had every reason to suspect that the top echelon of the security forces was unwilling or unable to protect them.
According to the forum, “The refusal of the Inspector General of Police to stay in Makurdi as directed by the President and Commander in Chief in January 2018 and the recent comment of the Minister of Defence directing states to suspend the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition Laws of their various states, are clear evidence that they are neither interested, willing or able to be fair to the people of the Middle Belt.”
The forum also tasked President Buhari and National Assembly members to expedite action by ensuring that the country is restructured, in order to resolve some of the current crises bedevilling the nation.
On its part, CAN said contrary to the Police’s report, 218 persons had been confirmed dead as a result of the crisis.
In a graphic presentation of those killed by Fulani herdsmen, CAN President, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, explained that about 37 villages in Plateau State had been under constant attacks from Fulani herdsmen in the last three months.
He said, “Following the killings that took place on the Plateau, CAN has obtained reliable information on the number of dead as recorded in B/Ladi & Riyom LGAs from Saturday, 23 to Monday 25 June, 2018.’’
Listing the number of death, the CAN President named Gashish District, Nhyer – 80; Exland(G/Akwati) – 40; Ruku – 34, Kakuruk – 6; Kuzen – 5; totalling 165
Others include, Ropp District: Gana Ropp – 34; Razat – 1; Kwang Jot Near Gen. Hospital (Takwok) – 1; Rakwok – 2, totalling – 38.
In Bachi District: Shonong 8 people were killed while death toll in Riyom District were: Kwi recorded 1; Heipang District: Chit Heipang 2; Vwang District: K-Vom Vwang Jos South 1 (OPSH Killing); Zawan District: Anguldi – 3 (OPSH Killings), with grand total of 218 deaths.
“Apart from the total number of those killed, there are still missing persons. Many people also sustained various degrees of injuries”, CAN added.
The Christian group called on President Buhari to replace all the security chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, saying they have overstayed their welcome.
According to the group, “It is ridiculous and embarrassing that in the last three years, none of these criminals have been apprehended, detained, arraigned and convicted.
“This is what is emboldening them to kill the innocent with impunity. We are approaching a state of anarchy faster than we can imagine. Why are we following the footpath of Rwanda daily with these unprecedented killings and mass burials when we are not at war?”