A Benue lawmaker, Dickson Tarkighir, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put a terrorist tag on Fulani herdsmen following their alleged attack in some parts of the state.
Tarkighir represents Makurdi/Guma federal constituency of Benue state at the House of Representatives.
Speaking on ChannelsTV programme, Sunrise Daily on Monday, January 8, 2018, the lawmaker expressed displeasure over President Buhari’s failure to “name and shame” Fulani herdsmen despite the attacks on Nigerians in Benue state.
He said that until the herdsmen are tagged as terrorists, the activities of security agencies in the area may not yield the desired results.
Buhari reluctant to proscribe Fulani herdsmen
He noted that the Benue state indigenes are subsistent farmers whose needs remains the protection of their lives and properties, including lands and crops.
“People vote in government based on their needs,” Tarkighir began.“Our needs in Benue state is that we want to be protected in our land. I do not think that is politics; it is a basic need for the survival of our people. We are subsistence farmers in Benue state and we need access to our lands to farm.
"There is no reason why you will see politics in this. Our people are being killed. The United States of America has classified Fulani herdsmen as the fourth most dangerous organization in the world.
"It is the responsibility of the leadership of this country to name and shame these pastoralists. That is the only way security agencies will have the power to arrest them.
"Till today, the President has shied away from calling these people by name.
“The people of Benue state are calling on the President to rise up to his oath of office which he swore to protect every Nigerian when he was elected. We believed in the President but I do not know why he is very reluctant in doing this.
“Herdsmen have continued to kill our people in Benue when this president was elected till today and there has been no concrete effort from security agents to secure our lives," he noted.
He alleged that Fulani herdsmen were “massing” at a village in Taraba state to attack some Benue communities.
“As I speak, herdsmen are massing in Loko to attack Agatu and Gwer West in Benue state and no security agency has been deployed to those areas.
“They are massing on our border in Taraba state to attack us. They attacked Logo local government last night. Nothing has been done. All we can say is that there has been collusion between the federal government and the herdsmen to deny us of access to our lands,” he said.
Food insecurity imminent
The lawmaker expressed fears that with the current attacks on Benue communities, the nation may not attain its goal of becoming food sufficiency.
“The federal government has been advocating for food security but how do you have food security when every time we want to harvest our produce, the Fulanis attack us?
“Hundreds of trailers of rice come from Guma alone. Farmers have not fully harvested all the rice produced in Benue state but herdsmen have taken over those rice farms and burnt them down.
“How do you achieve food security with that kind of situation? How can the federal government achieve rice sufficiency for the targets that it has set for itself?” Tarkighir asked.
Three days mourning in Benue state
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom has declared a three-day mourning period in Benue state for victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks.
In a statement signed by the governor's Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Monday, January 8, 2018, the mourning period will run from Tuesday, January 9, to Thursday, January 11 with flags flying at half mast.