Leaders of the Tiv nation has expressed displeasure over the operation of the Ayem A Kpatuma, a military exercise code-named “Cat Race” launched in the state by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to restore peace in Benue State communities following attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen.
The leaders accused the army of allegedly providing cover for armed Fulani herdsmen to take over the land naturally given to them by God.
President of the Mzough U Tiv (MUT), Chief Edward Ujege in a statement released to the media, expressed reservations over the emerging trends of the military operation which he said has made the people be apprehensive about the real mission of troops deployed to the state.
But the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Major Olabisi Olalekan Ayeni, in a swift reaction, countered the position of the Tiv leaders saying “Operation Ayem A Kpatuma is not in support of any group”.
Chief Ujege disclosed that since the flag off of the exercise, the military has been circulating pamphlets through its Department of Civil-Military Affairs, Army Headquarters which “confirmed that the military had come to provide cover for armed Fulani herdsmen to take over the land of the people.
The translation on the pamphlets, Chief Ujege emphasized, portrayed a purported dialogue between the Fulani herdsmen and Benue farmers on their alleged resolution to shift grounds one both farming and cattle grazing activities in the state.
Part of the translation of the pamphlets reads:
Tiv farmer: I’m your brother and a farmer; my farm produce is just as important as your cattle.
Fulani herder: I will no longer destroy your farm produce and longer kill your people. You are my brother, we should live in peace.
Tiv farmer: I too will no longer rustle or kill your cattle. You are my brother, let us live in peace.
The MUT President said it was clear from the flyer that the military has acknowledged that the Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the large-scale massacre and massive destruction in of farm crops in the state, and regretted that instead of addressing issues of justice, reparation and compensation, the federal government is compelling people of the state to accommodate the perpetrators of the heinous atrocities.
“Moreover, there is no reference to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law 2017, which addresses the fundamental issues of making both the farmers and the herders coexist in peace. The military is not only silent on the law but has encouraged open grazing with all its concomitant consequences. This silence on the law points to the fact that they are not in its support and are not ready to ensure its enforcement”.
But the Army spokesman, Major Ayeni said the role of the army in the crisis is to ensure the return of enduring peace in sacked communities and safe return of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.
“All that the army needs to do here is to ensure that no Benue resident is killed or displaced from their homes, that is all we are doing. We want to ensure peaceful coexistence among the herders and farmers. We are not saying the Fulani herdsmen should not obey the anti-open grazing law enacted by the Benue State government”.
“Let me inform you that we had arrested a Fulani herdsman yesterday and two others that wanted to attack Governor Ortom’s farm in Guma and with all these successes you should know that Operation Ayem A Kpatuma is not in support of any group and is not in the pursuit or criticising any group”.
“Our role is to make sure that Benue State is peaceful and one of the ways we are going about it is for the herders to know that either a Tiv man or an Idoma man or Igede man is a Nigerian like him and a herder who is not violent now is their brother”.
“However in the course of the military exercise if we find a violent herdsman that want to kill or displace any person in Benue State, we get him arrested and that is why we arrested two people two weeks ago, and arrested another one for preventing the Tiv people from been peaceful in their own environment”.
“So the way and manner we go in achieving a peaceful environment in Benue State especially in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state and Katsina-Ala local government is by using this psychological method to test these people that we are friends, don’t fight or pursue the other because we are one family. But however, if you saw anyone who want to kill you, report and we will get that person arrested and deal with him according to the law”, said Major Ayeni.
2019: I will retire Ganduje and his Godfather – Kwankwaso
Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, representing Kano Central in the Senate has vowed to retire Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje from active politics come 2019 general elections,” and anybody try to help him”.
In an audio voice message aired on a private radio station in Kano (Express FM) on Wednesday, Senator Kwankwaso declared that no amount of persuasion will make him change his mind over the stance to change Ganduje.
He said the level of betrayal meted to him by the Governor is enough yardsticks to stage a comeback into Kano politics and unseat Ganduje from Government House.
Senator Kwankwaso also boasted of dealing and retiring anyone from politics, which have any link to the Governor from any quarters within the Country, even if that person is in Abuja (an apparent reference to Buhari).
The fire-spitting Senator was quoted as saying, go and write it down, I will retire this betrayer and his collaborators from active politics in a simple arithmetic of 1 + 1 which you all know the answer.
There has been war of words from both camps since Kwankwaso’s handing over to Governor Ganduje in 2015.
The latest was tongue-lashing of the daughter of Governor Ganduje who marries the son of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State by Kwankwaso, who besides condemns the marriage, also describes all those that attended as people who have less work to do in their respective Offices.
APC, INEC plan to rig 2019 elections, PDP tells UN
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told the United Nations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission are planning to rig the 2019 general elections.
The party alleged that the rigging would start from Borno State where there are number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and where many others have left the state.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus told a delegation of the United Nations led by Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas yesterday that the party has no confidence in INEC to conduct credible elections in 2019.
“We suspect that INEC will rig the elections but Nigerians will resist. We suspect that the rigging will start from Borno State, especially with the number of people in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
“INEC has not lived up to expectation. It should come out in clear terms and be seen as an umpire. Since they took over, a lot of issues have trailed their conduct of elections.
“We don’t have confidence in the leadership of INEC. There are no perfect elections anywhere in the world but there are glaring issues of concern,” he said.
Secondus also drew the attention of the UN to the mindless killings going on in the country, stressing that the same could be part of grand design to prevent some eligible voters from casting their votes in 2019.
He told the delegation that INEC was registering underage persons in Kano State to vote in the elections as part of the plan to rig the elections.
Chambas said the delegation was in the country on “a prevent diplomacy,” adding that the cost of peacekeeping was too high of the UN.
He said the UN was concerned about the peaceful conduct of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections.
“There should be a code of conduct to be signed by the political parties which will focus on policies and agenda and not on hate speeches,” he said.
He called for “regular and adequate funding” of INEC to enable the commission discharge its responsibility to the people.
INEC fix end of April for Dino recall process
The Independent National Electoral Commission has on Wednesday announced 31st April for the commencement of the earlier stalled recall process of the embattled Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye.
The Kogi state Resident Electoral Commissioner Professor James Apam said following the appeal court ruling that INEC can commence the recall process, the commission has fixed the last Saturday of April as the verification date.
INEC also fixed first Saturday in the month of May as the day that a referendum would be conducted in line with the electoral laws.
Professor Apam spoke at a stakeholders forum on Wednesday in Lokoja
“On this day, the commission will endeavour to invite all those who have signed the recall register to come forward and identify their signature.”
If this process is successful, the commission will proceed to the next stage where a referendum of all registered voters would be conducted. Here, voters will be asked to vote either yes or no to the question of whether they want Senator Dino Melaye recalled.”
“if the answer was able to meet the constitutional requirements of 51 percent yes, the process moves to the next stage but if it fails, the process stops,” Apam explained.
The federal court of appeal sitting had last week threw out Senator Dino Melayes suit challenging the move to recall him.
However, the embattled Senator has vowed to proceed to the Supreme court in a bid to stop INEC from proceeding with the process.
Apam said that as a law-abiding people, INEC will not do anything outside the dictate of the law, that is why we have to wait till after the judgement before going ahead with the process.
On the continuous voters’ registration, Professor Apam said that 210,000 permanent voters cards are ready for collection but expressed worry that owners have refused to come forward to collect them.
He called on all stakeholders present to pass on the information to voters.
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