Benue crisis: Tiv, Fulani, Aguta sign peace pact
Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Agatu and Tiv areas of Benue who had been in persistent conflict yesterday announced a stop to the conflict and killing on both sides.
Retired Brig-Gen. Atom Kpera, the leader of the Benue delegation who read a communiqué at a news conference in Makurdi after a two-day peace meeting at the Government House said the warring parties had resolved to immediately stop hostility.
“The Tiv, Agatu and Fulani have agreed to an immediate cessation of hostility and no party should attack the other,” he said at the news conference which was witnessed by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Operations Michael Zuokumor.
Brig-Gen. Kpera said the Fulani had not been chased out of the state and should feel free to live peacefully with the Tiv and Agatu farmers.
“The Tiv/Agatu and Fulani will immediately work together to set up a joint task force to check the activities of criminal elements on both sides and implement details of the peace agreement,” he said.
National PresidentGeneral of the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, confirmed that a decision was reached to end fighting and rivalry between the herders and Benue people who according to him had been good friends of his kinsmen until the recent enmity. Bodejo assured that his members would heed the terms of agreement as both parties continue to meet regularly to build confidence and keep track of its implementation.
“We agree to all the peace talk during the meeting. We want peace because the Tiv man is my brother, you see the Fulani were suspected for all the things happening but it’s not Fulani,” he said.
DIG Zuokumor warned the people against rumours and to shun acts that could heighten provocation. He said he was delegated by the federal government to broker peace between the warring factions and arrived the state on Sunday with more policemen to keep surveillance in all parts the state.
“The restoration of peace is a gradual process but we must begin from somewhere. We advised all parties involve to go back and talk to their people to sheath their swords. Even in countries where there are long wars, there always comes a time when they would cease fire and begin to initiate peace. We have started and we will follow it up. We are also going to mop up arms,” he said. The communiqué signed by leaders of the various factions and their secretaries resolved to among other things dismantle all illegal road blocks and desist from searching motor vehicles to harass anyone.
They also resolved to stop all attacks on persons of specific nationalities and their properties and warned that people desist from any acts that constitute criminal offences for which the police would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute offenders.
Meanwhile, the Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, has urged the federal government to look into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the killings before such act spreads to other parts of the country.
“Chemical weapons have been used on our people and for the first time, I saw it yesterday. It was concealed in canister shells,” he said while donating relief materials worth over N20 million to displaced persons in the state and called for peace among the warring factions.
In another development, the Agatu Elders Forum has called on the federal government to deploy more security personnel to village bordering Kogi and Nasarawa States. In a communiqué signed by chairman of the forum, Peter Sule Ngbede after a meeting at Otukpo, the elders condoled with families who lost loved ones in the crisis and enjoined its sons and daughters at home or in the Diaspora to cooperate with them in the quest for a lasting solution.