Leaders of Benue State socio-cultural groups and tribal leaders have resolved to resist any plans by the Federal Government to build houses and settlements for Fulani herdsmen in any part of the state under any guise.
According to the leaders, the recent hasty announcement by the Federal Government of its intention to build 1,000 housing units in seven states including Benue smacked of mischief and would not be welcomed in the state.
In a statement issued weekend and signed by the President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, (Woridwide) Iorbee Ihagh and the President General of Ochetoha k’Idoma, OKI, AVM Toni Adokwu (retd), the leaders maintained that no part of the state would be ceded for the construction of houses and colonies that would house Fulani herders when over two million Benue indigenes displaced by armed herders still reside in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps scattered across the state.
The leaders urged the Federal Government to call off the project which it claimed was part of a broad plan to address conflicts in the northern part of the country and would have such facilities as schools, clinics, veterinanes and ranches for the Fulani community.
They stressed that “one would have thought that the construction of such a facility in Benue State will go through a process that would have the inputs of all stakeholders, particularly, the State Government, but the hasty manner with which the project was planned and subsequently approved, smacks of mischief.
“The signal we are getting is that the idea may have been conceived, hatched, packaged and handed over to the present administration for implementation; or how would one explain the hasty manner in which the project scaled through all the hurdles and even billed for implementation, without the State Government getting a whiff of the idea from its conception?
“But, be that as it may, one would have expected that the Federal Government should have settled the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the State before thinking of bringing in outsiders, nay, foreigners and creating a haven for them within the state.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Benue State has over two million IDPs that have been neglected by the government to perish in various IDP camps across the State.
“The first thing one would have expected was for the Federal Government to work towards ensuring that displaced persons that have been abandoned in IDP camps across the state are returned to their ancestral homes, before contemplating the construction of houses for their antagonists, the Fulani armed herdsmen.
“The ethnic groups in the state have resolved to file behind the State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, not to cede any portion of the State to anyone; not even the Federal Government for the purpose of building settlements for our oppressors.
“Plans to ensure that colonies must be constructed in Benue State has become a recurring decimal, and we view the insistence of the Federal Government to establish Colonies in the State, under whatever name is an agenda that must be resisted by the Benue people, with the support of all.
“Without mincing words, we want to tell President Bola Tinubu that he should call off the project, direct the relevant agencies of government to without delay commence a resettlement and rehabilitation process for IDPs in the state to return to their ancestral homes and further ensure that the IDPs are assisted to live normal lives before contemplating to embark on such a project.”
The leaders drew the attention of President Tinubu to the situation in Moon Council Ward of Kwande LGA, where the locals had been sacked and their homes occupied by armed herdsmen.
They urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the matter as well as embrace the Benue State ranching law in order to ensure peaceful coexistence between farmers and herdsmen in the state.