Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has described the growing attacks by alleged herdsmen as beyond the Fulani that we know.He made this assertion while briefing journalists after the National Economic Council ,NEC meeting Chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo in Abuja yesterday.
Suwsam recalled that “The Governor of Kogi also confirmed that they have cordoned an area because these people came in four trucks. They have asked security to cordone them. It is actually a cause for concern because mercenaries have taken over, what is happening is that ,this is beyond the Fulani that we know and who are part of us. These are different crops of people either parading as Fulani or people who are Fulani from displaced areas because they are heavily armed. The Fulani around us here are never heavily armed. Even their women carry AK 47. So these are not the regular Fulani we are used to who are within are country. These are people moving into our country with a mission we are yet to know. But the NSA assured us that serious actions are being taken to address and contain these people who are moving into Nigeria from destinations that we do not even know.”
He said “The displacements of farmers is a matter of great concern to both the federal and state governments and as a matter of fact council was quite worried about this and we feel if something is not done immediately, our farmers may not be able to work in their farms and that means shortage of food in the entire country.
“And so it was decided that Council Chairman who is the Vice President will consult with the President so that an emergency meeting will be conveyed of all the affected states so that we can find an immediate solution to the problem.
Speaking on the alleged involvement of the Military in attacks , Suswam said “The insurgents most times wear military uniforms.”He disclosed that the arrest of three soldiers by some youths in Benue was done in error as they did not go there to attack the community. “It was not as if they came to attack by they were actually in the town.The fact of the matter is that the insurgents now wear military uniforms.”
“Comprehensive discussion was made in the council and the Governors of Delta and Edo states say that people came into their states in trucks without cattle. Cattle grazers move around with cattle but these insurgents now come to town in their large numbers and in trailers loads.
Governor Godswill Akpabio also said “Council received a Presentation by the NSA on Incessant Conflicts between Farmers and Pastorialists, highlighting on the challenges and solutions in Nigeria.
According to the NSA’s Presentation, Seventeen (17) States have been identified as flash points, among which are:Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Niger, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Kwara,
NSA reported to the Council that his office is working out an International Conference in Nigeria to deal with the situation, adding that an International NGO in Geneva is already working with some communities in Plateau State to find ways of settling the conflicts.
The Council noted that :A committee on Grazing Reserves under the Chairmanship of Governor Murtala Nyako is already working to provide solutions to the Farmers Pastorialists Conflicts;
Council also recommended that Governor of Benue State should join Governor Nyako as co-chair to fast track the working of the Committee.
The Council resolved that:A Technical Committee be also set up to come up with recommendations on how to manage incessant conflicts between Crop Farmers and Pastorialists, to report within 2 weeks.
Committee Members are: Minister of Agriculture – Chairman;Minister of Environment – Member; Minister of Science and Technology – Member;Minister of Interior – Member;Minister of Water Resources – Member; Minister of National Planning – Member;
NSA – Member;DG-NOA – Member and Representatives of States. – Member
Speaking on the on the Excess Crude Account ,Akpabio said the Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Honourable Minister of Finance reported to the Council that the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at today stood at $3.5bn after payments for fuel subsidy and SURE-P.
And Council resolved that details of spending on Excess Crude be given to States on time and also urged that expeditious action be taken to sort out all the legalities surrounding the ECA.