Herdsmen Killings: If Federal Government Can’t Protect Us, We Will Raise An Army, Says Unongo

Many residents of Makurdi in mourning gathered on Thursday at the IBB Square as bodies of the victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks of January 1 and 2, 2018, in parts of Benue State were given a mass burial.

Offices, commercial banks, markets and schools were closed in the state capital as the government had, a day earlier, declared Thursday, a work-free day in honour of the 73 victims.
Many of those who attended the requiem shed tears as they lamented incessant attacks on residents of the state by herdsmen.

A leader of the Tiv nation and the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Wantaregh Unongo, said if President Muhammadu Buhari failed in his responsibility of protecting lives and property of Benue citizens, the people would train their own army in the state to defend them.

Unongo recalled that a large number of Benue sons and daughters were among the contingents that fought the Nigerian civil war.

“Benue people sacrificed blood for the unity of this country and will not allow a section of Fulani herdsmen to kill our people in cold blood.

He said,

“I am telling Nigerians that my people cannot continue to be cannon fodder for this country. If the government can’t protect us, we will mobilise and train our people into an army to defend us. We are 100 per cent in support of what Governor Samuel Ortom has done. I am the spiritual and ancestral leader of the Tiv nation; enough is enough.”

Unongo stressed that the entire people of the state were watching President Buhari and had joined in the persistence calls by Ortom that the Federal Government should take drastic steps to urgently address the killings and also arrest the leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Houre.

“If the Federal Government cannot stop or arrest those behind the killings; in two weeks, we shall raise an army of our own. We cannot allow people to colonise us again, we have all it takes to do that,” Unongo said.

Also speaking, a former military governor of Plateau and Katsina states, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja(retd.), who described the killings in the state as genocidal conspiracy against the Benue people, emphasised that the killings must not continue.
The Benue-born general said,

“Some of us, in 1966, fought the Nigerian civil war; Benue has contributed to the unity of this country. If the Federal Governmrnt refuses to address the killings in Benue and if we decide to raise our army as advocated by our elders to defend ourselves, l will not mind to command that army despite my age.”

He appealed to the government at the centre to replicate Operation Python Dance or Fulani Dance in Benue as being done in other states of the federation. He urged sons and daughters of the state to rally round the governor for the successful enforcement of the anti-open grazing law.

A former member of the National Assembly, Senator J.K.N. Waku, maintained that the Benue people were known for peace, love and honour.

He said,

‘’It is unfortunate that someone would oppose a law that is legally enacted and begin to kill and the Federal Government will refuse to make arrests to end the carnage. The provocation is enough; nobody has the monopoly of killing.’’

Speaking on behalf of the Benue State House of Assembly, the Majority leader, Benjamin Adenyi, expressed sadness that Buhari came to Benue State during electioneering and after he was elected, he looked the other way while Benue people were being killed.

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