Benue State indigenes have said they will no longer fold their hands and watch their kinsmen being massacred every other day by suspected Fulani herdsmen, stressing that they would rise to defend themselves should the Federal Government continue to dilly-dally on their security.
They also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare herdsmen “a terrorist organization” and arrest leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) for consistently threatening more bloodshed in Benue State.
The people, under the auspices of Benue Indigenes in Southeast, comprising the Tiv, Idoma and Igede natives, dropped the hint in Enugu, yesterday, during a protest rally against the continuous killings in Benue by herdsmen.
The rally, which was originally billed for the Michael Okpara Square, was disrupted when armed policemen occupied the venue, forcing the organizers to relocate to another venue in the city.
The protesters carried placards bearing various inscriptions like; “we are not happy! Stop the killing in all parts of Nigeria. Please act now and save Benue. Your cows are not more important than human lives, cattle cannot be given more attention than human lives” among others.
They declared their total support for the anti-grazing law promulgated by the Benue State government.In a written statement signed by President of Tiv community, Dr. David Wayas, President, Idoma Community Andrew Tyonongo and David Achi, the Benue natives said: “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to ensure total compliance and we reject the establishment of cattle colonies in our state. We call on President Buhari to declare the herdsmen terrorists.
“We also call on Mr. President to order immediate arrest and prosecution of Bosso and other leaders of Miyetti Allah who have consistently threatened more bloodshed in Benue State, as well as, order the enforcement of the anti-grazing law.”
Addressing newsmen shortly after the rally, Wayas said it was intended to first of all, register their condolences and observe a brief moment of solitude for their brothers and sisters who lost their lives in the invasion.
He said: “But most importantly, we are here to communicate our position before the world, against the continuous killings and merciless massacre of innocent, harmless, defenceless and very patriotic people of our dear Benue State, who have become the booty in the hand of nomadic terrorist herdsman.
“It is disheartening to note indeed, that the lives of those who lost their lives by herdsmen attacks on our land of course are yet to be quantified. But for the sake of those of us still alive, we are here to say ‘enough is enough’.
“We can no longer keep quiet, we can no longer be silent, and we will continue to speak whether heard or not until those behind this evil carnage is brought to justice. We fought for the unification of this country. Our ancestral fathers fought to unite Nigeria. Benue State fought to bring about what is today Nigeria. But, today, those who call us their brothers are slaughtering us. Today, we are denied our rights of existence.
“Today, we have become refuges in our own country. And yet we have a government, which promise to protect our lives and our property. How long shall we allow this evil to continue to prosper for saying nothing? How much longer? We may not have the weapon! We have a common voice as a people. We have a voice to say ‘enough is enough’. And we have a choice to choose where to belong, as long as these decisions will continue to guarantee our rights to live in peace and not in pieces. We have a choice”.