Benue farm­ers, herds­men com­ply with cease­fire pact

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Hope Abah, Makurdi

Benue farm­ers and Fu­lani herds­men yes­ter­day said they have started com­ply­ing with the cease­fire agree­ment bro­kered Mon­day by their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Makurdi.

The two groups said they have be­gun the process of calm­ing nerves to en­sure that af­fected people re­turn to their homes and businesses.

Chair­man of the All Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in Benue State, Aon­dona Hembe Kula, told our cor­re­spon­dent that he went round the af­fected ar­eas yes­ter­day in Guma, one of the worst hit, to ac­cess com­pli­ance on be­half of his mem­bers and was de­lighted that ev­ery­one was mak­ing ef­fort to al­low peace to reign.

“Though the de­struc­tion done to my mem­bers’ oc­cu­pa­tion (farm­ing) is mas­sive, I can tell you that farm­ers are happy with the de­vel­op­ment. We are now work­ing to see that in the next two weeks they go back to their homes and farms,” he said.

Kula added that the heavy pres­ence of soldiers in the area as he wit­nessed dur­ing his out­ing showed the ex­tent of the federal and state gov­ern­ments’ con­cern to re­store peace.

He said: “I have seen the de­ploy­ment of soldiers in Guma.”

Sec­re­tary of the Myetti-Al­lah Cat­tle Breed­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nigeria (MACBAN) Garus Gololo said they had started talk­ing to their youths to shun any act ca­pa­ble of stalling the peace process. Al­though he wel­comed the peace moves and said his mem­bers ac­cepted the ini­tia­tive whole­heart­edly, he faulted rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the cat­tle breed­ers, say­ing they were not recog­nised un­der the um­brella of MACBAN.

“We are happy for the peace pact and we have started talk­ing to our youths, we held a meet­ing to­day (yes­ter­day) with over 1000 of them. But, how could Al­haji Bello Bodejo and Engr. Saleh Alhssan sign an agree­ment on be­half of cat­tle breed­ers when they have their own or­gan­i­sa­tion known as Myetti Al­lah Kau­tal Hore when they have not dis­cussed with any Fu­lani per­son,” Gololo queried. Sim­i­larly, lo­cals in Guma have ex­pressed ex­cite­ment over the move and prayed that the process is sus­tained to en­sure a last­ing peace.

One of them, Des­mond Ter­lu­mun, told our cor­re­spon­dent that there is a level of com­pli­ance al­ready in mo­tion by the vil­lagers who are ea­ger to re­turn to their homes and oc­cu­pa­tion.

“There is a level of com­pli­ance. People are very happy with the de­vel­op­ment and if the lead­ers are able to sus­tain it, we will be glad. As farm­ers, we want to go back to farm­ing,” he said.

In the same vein, a mem­ber of the Benue Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion and Peace Build­ing Com­mit­tee who signed the agree­ment on be­half of the state farm­ers, Chief Abu King Shu­luwa, said con­trary to a re­port that the farm­ers had re­jected the peace deal, the Tiv farm­ers are happy with it.

“The Tiv people are happy over the de­vel­op­ment and there is no more fear in them. They want to go back home and we are work­ing to­wards it. I saw a re­port that the farm­ers have re­jected the deal but that is not true. How can an un­known per­son say he is speak­ing on be­half of Benue farm­ers when a re­spectable chair­man of the com­mit­tee, re­tired Brig-Gen Atom Kpera rep­re­sented the peo­ples’ voice,” Shu­luwa said.

On his part, Chief Sun­day Oyi­gadu, the Ad’Agatu who rep­re­sented the Agatu people at the peace meet­ing be­lieved that the process is in mo­tion and would cer­tainly suc­ceed. Mean­while, res­i­dents in the state cap­i­tal who had been scam­per­ing for safety in the past few months over ru­mours of Fu­lani at­tacks say they had re­laxed since the peace deal was en­tered. Spe­cial As­sis­tant to Benue State Gover­nor on Fu­lani Mat­ters, Shet­tima Mo­hammed, said he is also us­ing his of­fice to ed­u­cate his people about the new de­vel­op­ment, as­sur­ing that there is a level of com­pli­ance with the peace pact that is go­ing on at the lo­cal level.

Mean­while, more soldiers have moved into trou­bled ar­eas of the state in the past few days. Cri­sis torn lo­cal­i­ties such as Guma, Logo, Agatu, Gwer, Ukum and parts of Makurdi have seen mas­sive de­ploy­ment of soldiers. Vil­lagers said they have seen in­creased ac­tiv­i­ties of the soldiers .

“And they are re­ally work­ing since they ar­rived,” a res­i­dent of a bor­der­ing vil­lage to Nasarawa told our cor­re­spon­dent on tele­phone. Mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties in the state are yet to re­spond to calls and mes­sages about the de­ploy­ment. The air force he­li­copter de­ployed to the state for sur­veil­lance has con­sis­tently been hov­er­ing over the state in re­cent times.

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