Benue Journalists to NASS: Stop deliberation on hate speech bill until herdsmen killings ends

By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna 

Benue Media Forum, BMF, Kaduna State chapter, has called on the National Assembly not to deliberate on the Bill on Hate Speech pending before the House until lasting solution is found to the indiscriminate killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen.

A communiqué of the meeting of Kaduna chapter of the Forum held on Friday 9th, 2018, and made available Weekend in Kaduna, also resolved “That even though the Executive Bill on Hate Speech before the National Assembly is a good initiative towards the country’s quest for peaceful resolution, it should be stopped until the fate of Nigerians is certain over the continuous winds of killing blowing across the country, of all tribes of Nigerians, by herdsmen.”

The Forum also noted that “Herdsmen attack and killings, like the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, rightly stated during his recent condolence visit to Benue state, requires collaboration of the most victim states to end the insurgence, rather than separate efforts.

Signed by its chairman and secretary, Idibia Gabriel and Nicholas Dekera, respectively, communiqué stressed that “At the end of the meeting convened on the premise of the orchestrated murders and killings, the Forum of indigenes of Benue State Journalists based in Kaduna, observed that the recent attacks and killings in Omusu in Edumoga in Okpokwu local government area of Benue state, of vulnerable people, including students, women and children, in which casualty figures rose above 26 to 46, with several others seriously injured, according to official and eyewitness accounts, was disenchanted and uncalled for.

“Benue Media Forum, BMF, Kaduna branch, followed with keen observations and shocking, the continuous murderous and gruesome killing of indigenes of its state by Fulani herdsman. In particular, the Forum is disenchanted by the attacks and killings, in Omusu in Edumoga in Okpokwu local government area of Benue state, of vulnerable people, including students, women and children in which casualty figures rose above 26 and 46, and several others seriously injured, according to official and eyewitness accounts,” it stated.

Forum noted that “The killings in Okpokwu was purely on revenge mission carried out by callous herdsman for allegedly killing two of their cattle found destroying peoples crops in a State with anti-open cattle grazing law in place.

“It also observed that the Okpokwu incident is one of the many coordinated attacks involving shooting, killing of people and burning of houses and properties worth billions by herdsmen in Guma, Logo, Agatu, Utonkon and several other Local Governments and communities across the state.

“More worrisome is the internally-displacement of people and communities into IDPs in their country and state of origin, and making them not only homeless but deprived of their livelihood, especially farming activities, which is the main occupation of the Benue people.

“Also of serious concern is the concentration of these unwholesome attacks consistently targeted at the core States of Middle-Belt and its communities in Taraba, Plateau, Benue and Kaduna, and others.

“Accordingly, the invasion of communities in most parts of South-East, South-South, West and other similar states of Nigeria by the herdsmen, are so obvious, and viewed as pointer to the widely belief that the country is facing a Fulani war similar to jihad,” it added.

Communiqué resolved that “As repeatedly propagated by the Governor Samuel Ortom-led administration, BMF therefore supports wholeheartedly, the syndrome of ‘No-going-back’ on law prohibiting open cattle grazing, properly passed by Benue State House of Assembly and assented by the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, in 2017.

“It recalled that similar incidents occurred in Zamfara State, during Sharia law, under Ahmed Sani Yerima regime, but was not interrupted or truncated through any influence by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“It’s also on record that Kano State government is currently operating Hisbal – an Islamic law that prohibits open sales and display of alcoholic drinks – in the state and local governments, among other Nigeria States, but nobody challenged their authority.

“Accordingly, as promptly stated in Zamfara state when the Sharia law was on course, BMF therefore proclaims category that anyone, who is not in tune with anti-open cattle grazing law in Benue State, for the security of lives and property, should relocate.

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