Middle Belt Forum react to killings of 48 people in Plateau, Benue

The Middle Forum (MBF), has expressed shock at the brutal attacks on Zangam in Jos North, Plateau State and Yelewta community of Guma Local Government Area of Benue that resulted in the death of 48 persons.

The forum lamented that the attacks were coming after a series of threats issued by some Islamic clerics over the killing of the 25 travellers in Jos penultimate Saturday.

It added that the attacks seemed to have reinforced the fact that there was a ploy to turn some communities into killing fields in order to satisfy the expansionist agenda of what it called “these terror gangs”.

A statement by its National President, Dr. Pogu Bitrus and made available to the newsmen on Friday in Kaduna, stated that, “If Nigerians are in doubt over this orchestrated evil machination against ethnic nationalities in the country, especially the Middle Belt Region, the breaching of security at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) on Tuesday August 24, 2021 that resulted in the killing of two military officers and abduction of another by the terrorists, the gruesome murder of no fewer than 19 people in Madoh village, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna, lend credence to claims that ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt are already marked for extermination.”

It explained that in investigating the security breach at the NDA, the unrelenting decimation of vulnerable communities in the Middle Belt Region uncovered a sinister conspiracy to annihilate their people and communities.

“It is clear that the discriminatory structure of our country’s security architecture has opened up our security agencies for infiltration and facilitated attacks on the nation’s elite military’s institution. Our security forces must be cleansed of questionable characters whose loyalty is not for the Nigerian state but to certain forces committed to the final destruction of our country,” the statement observed.

It lamented that the spiraling insecurity situation was coming less than 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed not to leave office as a failure, saying that it reaffirmed “the fear among citizens that the path in resolving the present insecurity is a path still fraught with thorns that may be difficult to unwrap within the remaining two years of the present administration.”

More worrisome, according to the forum “is the refusal by the President Buhari-government to designate these terror gangs as terrorists.”

The forum said it finds the planned review of 368 grazing reserves in 25 states as approved by President Buhari as a deliberate attempt to awaken the monster of animosity and “turn our communities into rivers of mass slaughter.”

It explained that even without being told that the matter is not within the purview of the central government, President Buhari ought to know that state governors hold in trust lands on behalf of the people, adding that any attempt to dabble into an issue that is outside the constitutional function of the Federal Government is illegal and ultra vires.

The forum maintained that the adoption of ranching as the global best practice as opposed to open grazing is the only way out, pointing out that the 19 governors of the South have already ruled out open grazing and endorsed ranching as the best policy to contain security challenges associated with open grazing.

It called state governors to commence without delay the creation of ranches in collaboration with communities so as to avoid a situation where foreign herdsmen are settled to further unleash destruction on vulnerable communities, saying that as the umbrella organisation of ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt, the forum is poised to continue resisting any attempt to rob our people of their ancestral lands.

The forum stressed unequivocally that it cannot be dissuaded from defending the rights of ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt as contained in the Nigerian Constitution, saying that the Buhari-led government must shed off its toga of being seen as only interested in defending the interest of the Fulani group and people of his own faith.

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