A coalition of civil society groups from Benue South Senatorial District have rejected the agreement signed between the state government and Fulani herdsmen in which parts of Agatu local government was earmarked for grazing routes.
The groups under the auspices of Benue South Peace Network who disclosed this during a press conference yesterday expressed shock over the agreements saying it was preposterous for the government to allocate land to Fulani herdsmen when justice has not been served for attacks in the area, barely a year ago, which claimed over 500 lives and also several communities completely destroyed.
“Agatu is no longer news to the world; it is that bloodied theatre of wanton killings amounting to a modern genocide that Idoma, Benue State, Nigeria and Africa dare not forget in a hurry. We are here today not because another invasion is on but because foundations for something worse than the past massacre is being laid and we believe that all men and women of goodwill across the world must be told on time so that you can join forces with patriotic souls to halt the impending return of violence.
“Recall that two agreements were recently signed under the arrangement of the Benue State Government giving out the whole Adapati Island and vast portions of Agatu mainland Oguto Adanyi – Ogumagbo – Bagana, for purposes of grazing area and grazing routes.
“These agreements with very frightening clauses have come as a shocking development to all Nigerians and right thinking Africans especially since the last incidence of massacre of Agatu people by these same terrorists nothing has been done by the Benue State Government and the Federal Government towards commensurate Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Compensation. Justice is yet to be done as no single perpetrator has been brought to book. The condition of the dead, widows, orphans, wounded, displaced and deprived; as well as lands taken over by the terrorists, have not been addressed.
“Attempting to broker peace in the light of the aforementioned pending issues is indicative of gross contempt for the value of Agatu lives and the sensibilities of entire Benue people. We state today categorically that Agatu lives matter as much as that of Fulanis and their cows, as well as lives of other Nigerians. The gift of life is a universal privilege by God and no group of people are higher shareholders. Any peace deal in Agatu must show clear reverence for the hundreds of innocent lives lost there.” read parts of the press statement.
The coalition however appealed to the youths not to take laws into their hands while also urging them to distance themselves from the purported land agreement.
“No youth or persons of Agatu, Benue South and indeed the entire Benue State of Nigeria should take the law into their hands by engaging in any acts of violence as a result of anger over the two recent agreements signed which instead of bringing solution is rather a more deadly time bomb. As bad as this is, there should be no recourse to violence, and as much as possible, no street protests over this ugly turn of events.
“We urge all peoples of Agatu, Benue South, and entire Benue State, to roundly reject and distance themselves from the two agreements as the law abiding people of Benue South will soon use democratic means and the Nigerian Law Courts to declare the two agreements which plan to consolidate the injury, null and void and without effect whatsoever.
“We urge all people of Agatu, Benue South and entire Benue State to focus their energy on making the State and Federal Governments to do the needful aimed at restoring normalcy in Agatu which includes
i. Bringing the perpetrators of the heinous murder and destruction to book,
ii. Rehabilitation and reconstruction of destroyed properties, farms and businesses
iii. Resettlement of IDPs including orphans, widows, widowers, wounded persons, and people whose properties, houses, farms and businesses were destroyed.
“Our position here is not strange. All over the world people know that there can be no peace without justice and that papering over the wounds of Agatu people to force down “peace agreements” the way it is being done will only lead to something worse. This we must resist.”
They thanked the Traditional Rulers of entire Benue South for handling the development with maturity and for refusing to be deceived and bribed.
They appreciateed particularly the Paramount Ruler of Idoma Nation, the Och’Idoma, HRH Agaba-Idu, Elais Ikoyi Obekpa for clearly distancing himself from the treacherous agreements while calling on all Sons and Daughters of Agatu, Benue South and Benue State in general both in Nigeria and outside the country to use every democratic and godly means within their reach not only to resist and annul these agreements but to also stop the further alarming forceful spread of violent outlaw Fulani herdsmen to murder