Agatu: Setting The Records Straight

By Kwaghngu Abrahams

Peace and security is an integral component of development in any given area. Without peace, human capacity and infrastructural development would continue to be a mirage. It is based on this fact that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has never rested on his oars in ensuring that every part of Benue State enjoys peace and security. He has also been working hard to ensure that the people of Benue State live peacefully with their neighbouring communities.

It is in line with his peace building and security mission that the Governor on January 19th, 2017 visited Agatu Local Government Area along with his Nasarawa State counterpart, Gov Tanko Almakura. The visit was aimed at engaging with the people of Agatu, assess the damages to lives and property as a result of these unfortunate attacks by alien terrorist’s herdsmen and to reassure the people of the area of Government’s commitment to bringing lasting peace and security to the area. Gov. Ortom had visited the area before now at the onset of the crisis to intimate the people of his determination and efforts to put an end to these mindless attacks on innocent citizens. Security reports indicate that foreign Fulani herdsmen who move into Nigeria are often responsible for the killings and destruction in Benue and elsewhere.

An immediate gain of the visit was the collective resolution reached by the leaders, elders and stakeholders of Agatu and the Fulani herdsmen known to the Agatu people to allow them graze their cattle at designated areas immediately after the harvest season at end of February 2017 without encroaching on farmlands of the Agatu people. This resolution was arrived at collectively by all stakeholders comprising the Agatu leaders, elders, youths and the leadership of the Miyetti Allah of the Fulani. These Fulani herdsmen from Nasarawa and neighbouring areas are known to the people of Agatu for decades having lived among them peacefully. These agreement however did not extend to unknown and foreign herdsmen that often invade our lands to perpetrate mayhem and destruction on innocent people. The government did not cede any part of Agatu land to Fulani herdsmen as being erroneously presented by some misinformed people, some of whom have ulterior political motives to settle scores with the government of the day having seen evidence of solid democratic dividends brought about by the Governor Ortom led administration barely two years after taking office in May 29th, 2015 and inheriting untold liabilities from the immediate past government.

It is a fact that Fulani herdsmen are all over the country grazing their cattle. These migrant Fulani herdsmen are found in the South-west, South-east, North-central and North-west of Nigeria. What the government of Benue State is concerned about and working against is the infiltration of foreign terrorists masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to unleash terror on innocent people. Governor Ortom even before he became governor of the State has been working to enthrone peace among his people and their neighbours. He had donated relief materials worth millions of Naira to that effect prior to becoming governor. The two Governors donated roofing zinc sheets and other relief materials to victims of the crisis in Agatu to help cushion the effects of the wanton crisis. The two Governors continuation of their commitment to sustain the prevailing peace, discourage strongly future occurrence of invasion by foreign herdsmen terrorists.

It is on record that the stakeholders in Agatu agreed to let the Fulani’s known to them to graze their cattle along with their families. The Ortom government has not sold or ceded any part of Agatu land to Fulani herdsmen. Fulani herdsmen have not been known to buy lands but are known for grazing their cattle. The people of Benue State should disregard such falsehood alleging the ceding of any part of Agatu land to Fulani herdsmen. For emphasis, the Agatu elders, stakeholders and leaders agreed to the grazing of cattle by only indigenous Fulanis known to them and only at designated areas. The Ortom government has not deprive the Agatu people of their land in favour of the Fulanis. Fulani herdsmen are everywhere grazing their cattle even in Guma and other Local Government Areas of the State. Governor Ortom has always maintained that ranching of cattle remains the long term solution to the farmers/herdsmen clashes and has forwarded a Bill ‘The Open Grazing Prohibition Act’ which is currently before the Benue State House of Assembly awaiting passage. These long term solution however cannot be achieved overnight as it would require careful planning and inputs from relevant stakeholders.

As a result of the Governors fruitful visit, Agatu and Fulani leaders, Miyetti Allah and the youths resolved to embrace peace in honour of the genuine efforts initiated by Governors Ortom and Almakura. Gov Ortom also immediately hosted a combined meeting of the State Security Councils of both Benue and Nasarawa States where traditional rulers, heads of security agencies in the two states and other stakeholders were in attendance to further build on the efforts made so far by him and his counterpart from Nasarawa and further arrive at decisions aimed at strengthening peace in Benue and Nasarawa State. Ortom would never mortgage the peace and security of the people under whatever guise. He is a committed patriot that has been contributing to national unity.
Kwaghngu is the Senior Special Assistant, Special Duties

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