Benue Killings: Atiku reacts to allegation he sponsors Fulani attackers

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar . [Photo credit: Guardian Nigeria]

Former Vice President and chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has described as “disheartening” a statement credited to the chairman of the Arewa Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, that he is a sponsor of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria.

Mr. Abubakar’s reaction comes amidst outrage over recent killings in Benue State by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

In a statement by his spokesman, Paul Ibe, the former Vice President expressed his disappointment at what he described as Mr. Unongo’s “desperately sad and false allegations” which he said came in this period of intense grief in Benue State.

Mr. Unongo had in an interview with PUNCH Newspaper accused Mr. Abubakar of being the chief financier and most influential member of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the largest body of Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

He reportedly said “I am aware that the most powerful person in Miyetti Allah is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who wants to be the next president. If they are fighting for power and Atiku wants to create problems for Buhari, I don’t know. There are so many possibilities.”

The altercation comes a few days after suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded a community in Benue state and killed at least 20 persons, though the police put the figure at 10, over grazing rights.

The former vice president’s statement read: “Yes, Waziri Atiku Abubakar is a Fulani and proud to be one and has never hidden that fact. However, the Waziri is a thoroughly detribalised Nigerian that would never favour one ethnic group over another”.

It added that in 2017 during the massive flood in Benue State which affected over 100,000 families, the vice president, who holds the Tiv traditional title of ‘Zege Mule U Tiv’, donated cash to the Benue State Government for the care of the victims.

“This is fitting for a man whose Tiv traditional title means ‘the biggest shade of the Tiv people. Not only did the Zege Mule U Tiv make a financial donation, he also called on the Federal Government to do more to assist the flood ravaged communities,” the statement said.

The statement also cleared the air on Mr. Abubakar’s membership of the fulani sociocultural association.

“Let it be known that though Waziri Adamawa is a Fulani, he is not a member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria nor has he ever been a member. He has also never discussed about that group with Chief Paul Unongo.”

The vice president also called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the killings in Benue, and that anyone found culpable be made to bear the full weight of the law.

The Fulani herders and farmers have clashed for decades over access to land and resources, particularly in the North-central states.

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, recently signed the Open Grazing Prohibition Bill 2017, which prescribes a five-year jail term for herdsmen or pastoralists caught engaging in open grazing of animals in the state, into law. This has not gone down well with the herdsmen.


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  • abodes_124

    Paul Unongo can continue bleating. Soon, very soon the herdsmen will descend on his village and kill his relations as heysid those of an APC senator for Benue state.

    • Mufu Ola

      All of you ,Obiora, Bassey Frank, Tawanda, prince Gabriel are very pathetic in your comment.Unongo categorically stated that Atiku told him he’s a patron sometime back. Now, expectedly Atiku denies because of his desperation for Presidency.Who would u believe? Why in d first case would Nnongo mention Atiku if it’s not true? Elementary logic is a stranger to many people.

  • Bassey Frank

    Atiku Abuakar should give it back to them. They are overstretched imbeciles. Why are they afraid to lay the blame at the foot of the chief security officer of this country?
    I pity Gov. Otorm of Benue State who has not been useful in finding lasting solution to this lingering problem.

  • obiora

    Atiku Abubakar and Mohamadu Buhari who is doing Cattle Business. Is the man that is doing Cattle Business that Herdsmen are working for. And open grazing Law is against his Business so the Killing is in his interest. They told us that Boko-Haram Terrorists are invisible that is why Fulani Army are killing them only in Nigeria Newspapers. So are Herdsmen and their Cattles also invisible?.

  • Dan arewa

    Unongo is an idiood since when did miyetti Allah association became a terror organisation, am a member too you dumb a hole, danjuma and company are the real financiers of the militia in North, bring them to justice and have peace or else the killing continues

    • Liberty

      The name really should be ‘Miyetti Shayttan’!
      And, pls note that several communities would soon begin to raise militia group to protect them from the rampaging herdsmen, whilst the state has chosen to allow the murderous Fulani pastoralists free reign of terror.

  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    Unongo the Hausa-Fulani slave, left the grand patron of the Myetti-Allah Mohammadu Buhari to attack a non-member who they want to destroy because he is bidding for the Presidency..Atiku has never being a bigot, he is accepted all over Nigeria unlike Buhari whose religious and tribal antics is no secret.

    • princegab

      Don’t mind the yeye man.

  • tsunami1earthquake

    Mr Unongo was too hasty in making this tendentious and delicate allegation against Atiku. More so, considering the electoral effect this might have on Atiku. We hope this forthcoming election would not be mired by wicked and unfounded allegations.

  • Nnamdi Nwachuku

    THIS UNONGO IS TRYING TO GET RELEVANCE AT ANY COST. HE DELIBERATELY CHOSE TO OVERLOOK OUR PRESIDENT WHO IS THE LIFE PATRON OF FULANI HERDSMEN/ UNONGO I’M NOT SORRY TO SAY, BUT YOU ARE PATHETIC.

    • Mufu Ola

      What relevance is Nnongo seeking? Very childish thinking!

      • Ubong

        Why should mr unongo be talking about cows when some assumed untouchables are killing his kinsmen and children. Why are we so wicked that material position has completely blinded us . Unongo, please whether the cows are mind or Atik, your brothers and sisters deserves more than tbis insulting and mockery statement. They need protection as Nigerian. God bless you.

  • Steve

    We all know the herdsmen are only emboldened because their grand patron is the president and he will always put their interest first. Where were the herdsmen when buhari was not in power.

  • pheliciti

    Very mature response from Atiku.