Members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Thursday urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to declare herdsmen as terrorists, alarming the nation over fresh killings of 24 people by Fulani herdsmen in Benue state.
The lawmakers from Benue State, who raised the alarm when they spoke at the National Assembly in Abuja on Thursday, revealed that 24 persons were confirmed killed in renewed attacks in the state between April 2-4.
The Reps pointed out that these killings took place despite the military Operation Cat Race.
They called on the Federal Government to declare the herdsmen as “terrorists” and demanded full military presence in Benue communities constantly under attacks by herdsmen as against ad hoc operations such as the current Operation Cat Race.
House members Dickson Takighir, Mark Terseer-Gbillah, Samuel Udende; and John Dyegh spoke for the Benue Caucus, alleging that some of the killings took place with no response from security agencies.
The lawmakers could not understand the sudden termination of the Operation Cat Race in the state by the military, especially when it was extended by more weeks in neighbouring states, including Taraba.
Takighir gave details of the killings and said, “These latest attacks have occurred in Ikyon and Agasha on April 3 and April 4; in Semaka, Asom, Babanruwa on April 3 and in Udei and Umenger on April 2.
“They (killer herdsmen) are right now stationed at Nzorov council ward, ready to attack Gbajimba in the Guma Local Government Area. There are others in Nasarawa, ready to attack Udei and Daudu with over 14 people killed in the last four days.
“Similarly, Sengev, Mbakyondo and Mbapa areas of Gwer-West Local Government Area are currently under siege by armed herdsmen.
“In Tsegaase, two people have been killed; one person is missing in Zwatema, two killed in Tse Adeke, one killed in Tse Adudu with one missing in Tsekelefu.
“So far, we have yet to confirm the casualty level in Enger. On April 3, four people were killed in Anyebe and one person at Mbavihi both in Tonbo ward of Logo local government.”
He called on the government to deploy troops in the affected communities for full operations against the herdsmen.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately explain to Benue indigenes and the Nigerian people why the Operation Cat Race has already been terminated in Benue without a resolution of the issue.
“We also demand that the government should deploy a proper military operation in Benue State and to also station military units in restive communities in Benue until the herdsmen menace has been dealt with.
“We urge the Federal Government to immediately declare these deadly herdsmen as terrorists in view of their inhuman, volatile and destructive activities. The international community should pay more attention to this ongoing pogrom of Benue people; we appeal for their intervention in the provision of aid to the over 190,000 internally displaced persons at different camps in Benue State.
“We believe it is only when these criminal and vicious elements are properly designated and treated as terrorists that the spate of killings will be put to rest,” Dickson added.
Fulani herdsmen have been accused of killing thousands of Nigerians.
Recall that the Federal Government had last year banned the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and declared its members terrorists despite the fact that the group was non-violent.