UPDATED: Benue, Taraba, other killings: Govs, ministers in crucial meeting

Fleeing Benue community members [Photo credit: Daily Post]

Governors of states recently affected by communal violence held a closed door meeting with two ministers and security chiefs.

Scores of people have been killed in ethnic-related violence in Taraba, Benue, Adamawa states. The violence usually involves herdsmen or Fulani communities and other native mainly farming communities.

The governors in Monday’s meeting are those of Adamawa – Bindow Jibrilla, Benue – Samuel Ortom; Kaduna – Nasir El-Rufai; Nasarawa – Tanko Al-Makura; and Taraba – Darius Ishaku.

The meeting was called by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and held the minister’s conference room. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, was also at the meeting.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director General of the State Security Services, SSS, Lawal Daura; and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Abdullahi Gana, were also present.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Dambazau stated that the federal government would not tolerate any threat to peace and public safety in any form in the country.

He said that it was the responsibility of government at all levels to ensure the security of lives and property within their territorial boundaries.

“It is against this background that the meeting is convened primarily to bring us together to share our experiences on the security challenges.

“The meeting will then agree on the necessary measures to be taken and apportion responsibilities.

“We are all aware of the noble objectives, policy initiatives and huge investments of the states and federal government with regards to numerous development projects being embarked upon, notable among which is in the agricultural sector.

“It is quite unfortunate that we find ourselves confronted by communal conflicts and criminal acts resulting in bloodshed and destruction of food crops, livestock, agricultural investments, and exposing rural communities to untold hardship,” the minister said.

He noted that the current situation was very dangerous in the northern parts of the country in particular and in the nation in general.

Mr. Dambazau listed the immediate repercussions of the menace to include hunger arising from acute shortage of food, diseases and deepening of animosity between ethnic and religious groups.

“Bearing in mind that general elections are just approaching and considering the history of political and election violence in Nigeria, all necessary steps must be taken to ensure the recently witnessed violence is curtailed.

“We must also not allow people, who are bent on sustaining instability for their political interests, to politicise matters of security,” Mr. Dambazau added.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said that the country was currently passing through a period of anxiety with the high level of criminality going on across the country.

“Nothing is more disheartening than this endless conflict between (farmers and herdsmen) and the criminality that has crept into this whole system of agricultural development.

“We are very saddened by the tragedies that have taken place in these acts of violence, and it is becoming clear that there are criminals bent on causing mayhem,” he said.

Mr. Ogbeh said that some of the criminals might not be herdsmen per se but people who had taken to violence as a way of life.

The minister said that while the security agencies were already dealing with the problem, the federal government was fashioning lasting solution to it.

Mr. Ogbeh said he believed the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes was neither ethnic nor religious in nature.

He said that the problem was as a result of years of neglect of livestock development in the country.

The meeting went into a closed-door session, at the end of which a communique is expected.

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