Determined to end the recurring violent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom has appealed to the United Nations for support.
Ortom’s appeal to the UN followed a recent call by the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association on its members to mobilise against the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law recently made by the state and scheduled to become operational in November this year.
Ortom claimed that armed Fulani herdsmen in the state had, in the last three years, killed over 1,878 people, injured 750 while 200 others got missing. The governor added that over 99,427 households were affected and property worth billions of naira had been destroyed in attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.
The governor spoke when the Country Representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Edward Jacklin, paid him a courtesy visit in Makurdi, the state capital.
Ortom told the UN delegation, “Between 2013 and 2016 alone, Fulani herdsmen killed more than 1,878 men, women and children in cold blood from 12 LGAs of Benue State. Another 750 were seriously wounded while 200 are (still) missing. Over 99,427 households are affected in Benue and property worth billions of naira destroyed through a brutal scorched-earth strategy.”
He said that despite demands for the arrest of the herdsmen, security agencies had yet to apprehend any one of them, adding that the UN should evolve a strategy on a sub-regional level that would check the alleged atrocities of the Fulani marauders.
Ortom recalled that a report by the State Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in 2014 revealed, “The destruction, which invading Fulani herdsmen caused, cut across 10 local government areas of the state and exceeded N95 billion in that year alone.”
Urging the UN to come to the aid of the state, the governor maintained, “Some of the challenges that we are facing today are regional in nature. The UN System has the capacity for regional and international synergies and we would, therefore, like to suggest that the UN System considers strengthening its regional approach to these challenges, particularly the destructive assaults by herdsmen on the peace-loving farming communities of the Benue valley. This may entail not just a national approach but also one that covers the whole of West and Central Africa”.
Earlier, the UNHCR country representative acknowledged seeing some “horrific pictures” of the alleged massacres perpetrated by the herdsmen, saying his delegation was in Benue to have a firsthand information on the situation by visiting some of the affected areas.
He further said that the team was in the state to find out what the government was doing and how best the UN could assist it in achieving results regarding the violent attacks by the herdsmen and the amnesty programme.