Emmanuel Agbakor

The chairman of Markurdi branch of the NBA, Mr.E.Z. Agbakor Esq has released a statement on the recent killing in some parts of the country, allegedly attributed to
Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore.

Voicing his frustration on the supposed lackadaisical attitude of the president over the killing, the chairman is demanding the immediate resignation of the Minister of defence and Inspector General of Police.

Below is his statement:

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Makurdi Branch notes with disgust that since the time of the open threats by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to unleash mayhem on Benue State to overrun the State and take over the Benue Valley, there is a single line of reasoning, expressions and actions by the President and Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria and his security operatives.

First, the President and his Security Operatives refused or failed to be proactive towards averting the carefully planned attacks and killings despite copious reports made to them by the Governor of Benue State. The killings were carried out unhitched and the unprotected Benue populace were gruesomely wiped out in large numbers.

Second, after the January 1, 2018 attacks, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore owned up to the killings and pledged that the killings would continue until blocked grazing routes would be reopened and the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017 was repealed or anyhow its implementation jettisoned. Gain, the Governor of Benue State made reports and called on the Police to arrest, investigate and prosecute the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore but the Police have failed to discharge their constitutional responsibility in this regard.

Third, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), after holding a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari described the killings of the Benue People by Fulani herdsmen as mere communal clash before sending unarmed Policemen to stop the killings, being perpetrated by herdsmen using sophisticated weapons.

Fourth, the President, after refusing or failing to visit and commiserate with the People of Benue State simplified the killings by calling on the Benue People to live in peace with their fellow countrymen.

Fifth, the Minister of Defence insinuated that the killings were as a result of blocked grazing routes and the only way out for the Fulani herdsmen was to carry out their nefarious mindless killings.

Sixth, the IGP fabricated an unfounded and unprofessional biased report against the Governor, Government and People of Benue State, claiming that the killings were as a result of the implementation of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017, forgetting that Benue had been attacked more than 47 times from 2013 to 2017 prior to enactment of the Law and there were killings of Tiv people in Nasarawa State, where there is no anti-open grazing Law and in Taraba State. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) has described Governor Samuel Ortom as “a drowning man”.

The report of the Inspector General of Police over the killings in the State has betrayed the confidence reposed in the Police by the common man of the society. He has made himself unfit to steer the affairs of the Police in Nigeria. He has clearly constituted himself into a security threat instead of an epitome of security.

We would like the whole world to know that if the killings in Benue State persist or should anything happen to Governor Samuel Ortom, the IGP should be held responsible. We recall with excruciating pains that we live in a country where a serving Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, SAN was assassinated with no traces. Recently, a serving Member of the Taraba State House of Assembly was allegedly kidnapped and subsequently found dead and the Residence of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was attacked, leaving casualties. Threats from high quarters must therefore not be taken for granted.

We do hereby call on the Minister of Defence and the IGP to honourably and respectfully resign their appointments forthwith. Their conducts smack unprofessionalism. The conducts constitute a breach of their oath of office and allegiance. In alternative, we urge President Buhari to sack them peremptorily and replace them with professional and patriotic Nigerians as a way of reassuring Nigerians of their security.

We want to discountenance the claims of the IGP that the position of stakeholders from Nasarawa State negates the claims of stakeholders and government of Benue State on the immediate and remote causes of the killings in Benue State. The IGP did not convene a joint stakeholders meeting of Benue and Nasarawa States before drawing his lopsided conclusions.

Stakeholders of Nasarawa State are not in a position to make or approve laws for Benue State. The position of the IGP is provocative, insensitive, unpatriotic and capable of causing disaffection among Nigerians.

We also make bold to fault the strategies employed by the IGP in ascertaining the authenticity of the alleged claims of Governor Ortom that there exists armed militia camping in Tungwa, Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, which he (IGP) dismissed as untrue. In dismissing the claims, the IGP relied on sentimental views of those he mentioned without giving Governor Ortom fair hearing. However, the IGP contradicted himself when he reported that some armed herdsmen were arrested in Awe Local Government of Nasarawa State.

It could be recalled that upon assumption of office in 2015, Governor Samuel Ortom through his amnesty program had disarmed youth in possession of all manner of arms. This also negates the allegation that the government has recruited untrained personnel and armed them with prohibited arms to operate as Livestock Guards.

Seventh, the Nigeria Army arrested Nine (9) Livestock Guards, who were performing their statutory duties under the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017 and firmly directed their incarceration with the State Security Service, Enugu State Command in perpetuity, without investigation, without an Order of Court.

Eighth, after more than 73 People were killed in Benue State, 73 Cows were allegedly killed in Nasarawa State. The President chose to visit Nasarawa State to commiserate with the Governor and people over the killings in Nasarawa and commission development projects. To date, the President has not paid an empathy visit to Benue State.

The foregoing line of reasoning, expressions and actions point to the fact that the Benue killings are a carefully architected conspiracy against the People of the State.

The coming of Operation Cat Race is salutary. The mandate of the military is however worrisome. They are to embark on “cordon and search”, which is to surround an area with the objective of restricting movement and searching thoroughly; to mount “road blocks”; and display “show of force”. All these are to be carried out in the homes; they do not include search on the farmlands which have been forcefully taken over from their owners and occupied by the Fulani herdsmen. There is no element of the operations to chase out the Fulani herdsmen from Benue farms and homes. The herdsmen are, as usual, on the farmlands with sophisticated weapons. The heavy presence of Internally displaced Persons (IDPs) in the camps is glaring testimony that the homes are not safe. We do hope the exercise will make the homes safe for the IDPs to go back to their various homes.

We also note that the Operation Cat Race is to be carried out within a specified time frame. This approach gives our marauders notice to carry out their activities before and after the operation.

In view of the foregoing, we are gladly wary that the Federal Government has announced plans to deploy a special Military Unit, Operation Cat Race, to affected parts of the Country, including Benue State.

The Military are coming to enforce order and peace in a democratic society. We expect that they will enforce law to achieve the much desired and sought peace. They will therefore insist on compliance with extant laws, including the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.

NBA Makurdi Branch, and I suppose the whole world, expect and in fact hope that the Military will flush out the Fulanis who have forcefully taken over and occupied some homes and farmlands belonging to Benue rural people and ensure that the owners repossess their lands in peace.

We expect that the Military will be fair to the Benue People and not toe the line of earlier thoughts, expressions and actions of the President, Minister of Defence, IGP and FPRO.

Benue looks forward to regaining our much cherished peace as we look forward to a united and peaceful Nigeria.

We call on Operation Cat Race to observe operational rules throughout the operation, including non-harassment, non-torture, and non-looting of the inhabitants of the communities. In the same vein, we entreat the National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch as well as International Red Cross Society to be on ground to observe the activities first hand.

We commend our traditional institution for a well deserved firm resoluteness to guard over our land against these killings.

NBA Makurdi commends Benue Representatives at the National Assembly for rising up the occasion and urges them to sustain the tempo until peace returns to the State. In the same vein, we commend the oneness exhibited by Benue People irrespective of party and other differences and implore them to so remain.

We call on Benue People to remain calm, law abiding and vigilant in the wake of these perilous times. All Benue inhabitants must cooperate with the Army in ensuring the return of peace and order in our ravaged communities.

NBA Makurdi reassures His Excellency, Governor Ortom of our unflinching support and urges him to remain firm in the discharge of his duties as Governor in general and towards the full implementation of the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.
We pray God to strengthen us and grant us victory over our foes in Jesus’ name.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Long live Benue State;
Long Live the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.

E.Z. Agbakor, Esq.
Chairman,
Nigerian Bar Association,
Makurdi Branch

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