Parliamentary activities at the Plateau State House of Assembly were on Thursday delayed by two separate groups of protesters that stormed the Assembly complex.
The protesters, mostly women and youths, stormed the Assembly to register their displeasure over the spate of killings by Fulani herdsmen.
While the first group, the Internally Displaced Women in Daffo District, in the Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, made “an urgent call to action on the humanitarian situation in the area following attacks by Fulani herdsmen,” the other group, Middle Belts Youths Arise, demanded the establishment of Middle Belt Development Commission to deal with specific situations caused by the conflicts.
The Speaker of Plateau House of Assembly, Peter Azi, and other principal officers, hurriedly left their duties to attend to the protesters.
Afer listening to his guests, Azi said, “We will look into your grievances and rest assured that something positive will be done.”
The IDW of Daffo displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘We have been made Internally Displaced Persons in our land,’ ‘We demand justice for Daffo,’ ‘Where is SEMA – State Emergency Management Agency?’ ‘The rains are here and we don’t have homes,’ ‘Our votes count’ and ‘Governor Simon Lalong, help us.’
The MBYA also showed their placards with inscriptions like ‘Unite for a greater tomorrow,’ ‘Stop the genocide: Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!’ ‘We want peace, not war,’ ‘No to occupation of our villages,’ ‘Our heritage, our pride, stop the killings,’ ‘Disarm the Fulani herdsmen,’ ‘We all have to defend our land (Middle Belt),’ and ‘We need justice for the killings, stop the armed herdsmen.’
The women submitted a petition signed by Comfort Matawal Malan to the Assembly, detailing the plight of over 7,000 IDPs in the Daffo District camp.
The petition read in part, “Many of us have been completely thrown off balance having been parted with our lifetime investments in food crops, houses and property. Many still face threats of losing their farmlands to marauding Fulani who have trespassed on our farmlands, clearing and tilling, obviously for the purpose of cultivation as the farming season approaches.
“This is in addition to the trauma already built up in our minds and the fear of insecurity which might not allow us to resume and face our normal socio-economic lives with required vigour to flourish.”
The women demanded adequate security for affected communities, while “the same strategy employed to guard farmers in the North-East and elsewhere on their farms should be employed to enable our farmers to pick up economically.”
The spokesperson for MBYA, John Okpe, said the Middle Belt “has been constitutionally demobilised and geographically balkanised.”
He said, “The government has formulated a policy of self-sufficiency in terms of producing what we consume at most in 2020. This is commendable; the Middle Belters have agriculture as their mainstay and can help the government to achieve this vision.
“However, this policy, lofty as it is, will remain a mirage if farmers, who are the harbingers, are burnt down in their farms.”
The MBYA in a memo submitted to the Plateau Assembly, signed by Samuel Odumu Okpe, demanded an outright cessation of all hostilities by the armed herdsmen.
The organisation warned that “if the attacks go on, our people will defend themselves.”
Rowdy session in Senate as Abaribe calls Buhari ‘incompetent’
The Senate became rowdy on Thursday after the President was called ‘incompetent’ over his failure to address the spate of killings by herdsmen.
The lawmaker representing the Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, started the event that led to a sharp division between members of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
He had raised a point of order to make reference to the conflicting reasons given by officials in the Buhari-led administration for herdsmen-farmers clashes.
Abaribe noted that the latest was from Buhari, who said in the United Kingdom on Wednesday that the killer herdsmen were from Libya.
He said, “A few days ago in this chamber, we talked about the security of Nigeria. This chamber discussed the question of killings in several states of Nigeria.
“I recall that on the matter of herdsmen versus farmers, two explanations were given by highly ranked security personnel in Nigeria. The Inspector-General of Police said these killings were as a result of (anti-open grazing) laws being passed by states.
“Also, the Defence Minister said these killings were also as a result of the blockage of routes through which the herders moved their cattle.”
Abaribe said Buhari on Wednesday in London said the killings were by the people who were trained by the Libyan Leader, late Muammar Gaddafi, “implying that these killers are from outside Nigeria.”
He said, “When a Commander-in-Chief says he cannot handle invaders invading Nigeria, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief? Why do we still continue to indulge this President that, everywhere, goes about to tell everybody outside this country that he is totally incompetent?”
The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, interrupted Abaribe, asking the lawmaker to withdraw his derogatory comments on Buhari and apologise.
Both the APC and PDP members in the chamber started supporting their men with the cry of, ‘Yes and No.’
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, however, upheld Lawan’s point.
“We can make our points without using words that are offensive,” he said
Saraki asked Abaribe to conclude his presentation.
Abaribe said, “There are words with no alternatives. What I did was to interpret the words by Mr. President in London. And I juxtaposed them with the explanations made earlier. What this tells me is that there is a conflict…”
Saraki, again, interrupted Abaribe, noting that certain words were derogatory and would not be allowed in the chamber.
Abaribe continued, “If any word used was misunderstood, I apologise. All I am saying is simple: the heads of security in Nigeria made several different explanations on the killings of our citizens.”
The Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, also interrupted Abaribe with a point of order, noting that lawmakers could not raise matters relating to the conduct and performance of the officials in the three arms of government, except through a motion.
Saraki ruled that Na’Allah’s point of order was sustained.
Admit your failure, PDP tells Buhari
The PDP has asked Buhari to admit that he has failed woefully in his promise to end insurgency in the country instead of resorting to excuses.
The party said by running to Archbishop Justin Welby to declare that the insurgents and marauders tormenting the people were fighters from the late Muammah Gadaffi’s Libya, Buhari confirmed the suspicion of Nigerians that he was incapable of handling security challenges of the nation.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said this in a statement on Thursday.
He said, “Mr. President has revealed that the killer-herdsmen ravaging our nation and killing our people are from Libya.
“If the Federal Government knew that the marauders and insurgents are invaders; then why is it engaging them in dialogue, reportedly paying ransoms and even considering amnesty option for them?
“Nigerians should demand explanations from President Buhari on why his administration has been asking the victims of marauders’ attacks in various states, particularly, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Plateau, to learn to accommodate, if it knows that the attackers had links with Libya.
“Our take remains that President Buhari and his dysfunctional APC should simply admit that they have failed to safeguard the lives of our people as well as the territorial integrity of our nation.”
Herdsmen kill 25 in Taraba
Herdsmen in the evening of Wednesday invaded Jandeikyula village in the Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, killing 25 people, despite the presence of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in the state.
The Special Adviser to Governor Darius Ishaku on Students Affairs, Mr. Samson Tor-Musa, who hailed from the area, confirmed the killing of 25 people.
He lamented that despite efforts by the state governor to “ensure peaceful coexistence, some people in the state are bent on frustrating him.”
Also, a former Special Adviser to late Governor Danbaba Suntai, Orbee Uchiv, who hails from Jandeikyula, told journalists that the armed men invaded the village at about 6pm and opened fire on the innocent villagers.
Uchiv said the number of deaths would have been more if not for the intervention of soldiers on patrol around the area who were coming from Gbeji, a neighbouring town in Benue State, where four people were killed on Tuesday.
An eyewitness who narrowly escaped death, Mr. Victor Iortim, told one of our correspondents that the attackers who came in large number shot indiscriminately, killing people and burning houses.
“They can’t be less than 200. I went to a neighbouring village and I was on my way back to Jandeikyula when I sighted them.
“I hid in the bush and counted close to 200 armed Fulani militia with sophisticated weapons,” he said.
Wukari council Chairman, Daniel Adi, confirmed the attack.
He said, “Many people were killed in the attack, but I don’t have the casualty figure now. I am on my way to the village and I will give you details later.”
Police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Missal, confirmed the attack, but said details were still sketchy.
Herdsmen attack leaves five dead in Benue
Barely 48 hours after the killings of 10 persons in the Logo and Ukum local government areas of Benue State, another five people were killed on Thursday by suspected herdsmen.
The fresh attack occurred at Logo and a suburb of Makurdi, the capital city causing pandemonium among residents of the state capital.
Three people were said to have been killed at Igbougher Mbavuur and Tse-Ward communities in Logo LGA, while two persons died in Agboughul, a suburb of Makurdi, the state capital.
A 70-year-old woman, identified as Mama Uhaen Ndiisaa, the mother of a former Logo LGA chairman, Mr. Terhemen Ndiisaa, was among the injured victims of the latest attack in Logo.
Ndiisaa, said, “This time they broke into people’s houses, but many were able to escape after they heard gunshots in the community.
“Unfortunately my mother was shot while she was fleeing, but she is still alive; many others sustained injuries.
“As we speak people are packing out of our villages and communities and fleeing to any safe place but the truth is that nowhere is safe for now.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Acting Governor of the state, Mr. Ogaba Edeh, described the killings as unwarranted.
Edeh said, “It is sad that the killings have continued despite the presence of security personnel in some of these areas.
“This is a pointer to the fact that the Federal Government has to do more to stop these killings by herdsmen.”
When contacted on the killing in the suburb of Makurdi, the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Moses Yamu, confirmed the killing and said the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, also led policemen to the community.
“Two persons were killed in Agboughul community this afternoon by suspected herdsmen,” Yamu said.
The State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said he had yet to get the report on the Logo attack.
Nigerians paying for neglect of the past – SGF
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, on Thursday described the clashes and killings being witnessed in parts of the country as Nigerians’ way of paying for past neglect.
According to a statement issued by Anderw Uhwe on behalf of the Director of Press, Office of the SGF, Mustapha spoke when he received officials of the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students in his office in Abuja.
The SGF said proper impartation of core values was neglected for long.
“Today, as a nation, we are paying dearly for what we neglected in the past with regard to the proper impartation of the core values and these have resulted in many clashes and killings in our communities,” he said.
Mustapha commended the efforts of the officials of NIFES for transforming the lives of the Nigerian students in their formative years through evangelical outreaches.
According to him, the role that NIFES plays in sharpening the lives of the Nigerian youth over the years with divine messages is what the nation needs to curb the social menace ravaging it.
The SGF called on the group to strive in its evangelical outreaches to direct the students to look up to God with a view to preparing them to be focused and to aspire for leadership positions in the future.
The chairman of the Governing Council of NIFES, Offiong Offiong (SAN), said they were in the office to express the congratulatory message of their National Director to the SGF on his appointment and also to inform him of their activities.