The governors of Benue and Nasarawa States, Samuel Ortom and Tanko Umaru Al-Makura, yesterday visited Agatu local government area with their security councils and vowed to implement peace initiatives that would ensure the security of lives and property in the area.
They appealed to the people of Agatu to give peace a chance and cohabit with indigenous Fulani herdsmen as brothers as was the case in the past.
The governors spoke at Obagaji, headquarters of the council, during a peace meeting initiated by the two state governments to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the area.
In his address, Governor Ortom lamented what he described as the massive and unprecedented destruction of Agatu and killings by herdsmen but said there was no alternative to peace for development and progress to take place.
He urged Agatu people to forgive and allow the Fulanis who were born in the land to return saying the Bible admonishes that vengeance belonged to God.
The Governor stated that his kinsmen were similarly killed and property including his ancestral home destroyed by the herdsmen but that they have since forgiven them and moved on.
While thanking the Governor of Nasarawa State for his commitment to peace in the area, Governor Ortom restated his stand that ranching remained the best approach to ending the farmers and herdsmen crises.
His Nasarawa State counterpart, Al-Makura who stated that there was no going back until peace returned to Agatu land said the culture of impunity where a group of individuals entered other people's land and began to kill them or attack others and their cattle must not be allowed to continue.
He urged the people to have confidence in the peace initiative and maintained that other meetings would be convened with selected stakeholders to find lasting solution to the crisis.
The two Governors toured the area by helicopter before meeting with major stakeholders at Obagaji.
They said they would do the best within their power and convey proposals that were beyond them to the appropriate authorities.
Spokesmen of the Agatu people including the Sole Administrator, Mr. Mike Inalegwu, member of the State House of Assembly, Alhaji Sule Audu, and Chairman, Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Mr. Akpa Idu, called for reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation as well as extension of the Federal government’s North East reconstruction plan to Agatu area.
The chairman of Miyetti Allah in Nasarawa State, Mohammed Hussein, apologized and appealed for forgiveness on behalf of Fulani people.
He pledged that his people would abide by resolutions taken by the security councils.
The spokesman listed their acceptance of the registration of all returning Fulanis, monitoring of their movements and implementation of ban on the movement with arms by both parties as demonstration of their commitment to the peace process.
By Tahav Agerzua