On the instructions of President Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris was in Benue State to maintain peace and order after the brutal killings of about 80 people from Benue state including two mobile policemen.
As part of his activities, Idris held a stakeholder meeting with the government and other stakeholders in Makurdi, the state capital.
The stakeholders spoke freely, but the sense of anguish, rage and pain was palpable. We bring you some of the 9 most striking quotes from the event.
Chief Edward Ujege, president of Mdzough U Tiv
“Mr IGP sir, until you explain what you meant by “Communal clashes” we are not going to trust you. And these questions have occupied our hearts since your arrival to the state. Do you have a heart to fight these people? Are you not compromised already? Help us convey these words to the president, while insurgency erupted in the east the president ordered for a special military unit called Operation Python Dance. We also demand for a special military operation in Benue. I may be speaking rubbish but it’s because the person who seems to be our shield has abandoned us.
“We want you to tell us what you mean by the attacks on Benue are communal clash. Do you have the liver to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah? We have made allegations and told you where this attackers are housed. Do you have the liver to investigate? In Rivers, Abia and other states, we have Python dance, can we have a dance here?“
Rev. Father Solomon Mfa
“First I want to appreciate the president for sending you to Benue. I have been a priest in the most affected local government for 13 years, I have also been severally attacked myself. The president has made several intelligent appointments but who are those heading the security agencies? (The Fulanis). When Yusuf Buhari, son to our president had an accident, our president was devastated, here in Benue our ‘Yusufs’ have been slaughtered.”
“I am not talking 2019, we have to be alive to be there. Mr IG, Beg Mr President, he is the president of every Nigerian, not just the president of the Fulanis.”
“IGP, your presence in Benue is an insult to our sensibilities. Your DIG operations told us on Television that the terrain is complex to you, are you now coming to clear the terrain?
We have this crisis because you refused to adhere to the global terrorism index, which rates Fulani herdsmen as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world. We need the military presence here in Benue State because this is a genocide.
The president was in Zamfara when the herdsmen attacked the state, he constituted a military taskforce to protect the north west. We are not in a communal war with anybody like u said unless we are fighting with your village. We in Benue need ranching as the only way forward. And the herdsmen must be declared a terrorist organisation, and the leadership of Miyetti Allah must be arrested.
If the elders can not tell you the truth, the youths will tell you the truth. What we need in Benue is the presence of he army. The government is refusing to tag this people as a terrorist group, the Fulani herdsmen are the fourth most deadly group in the world, your presence here is an insult from Mr President.
I also want you to know that Audu Ogbe at 74, is not representing us but his family.“
Prof James Ayatse, Tor Tiv
“I want to welcome you to our state. On the controversy about your stop over at Nasarawa, I want to believe that your stop over was to commune with the Tiv people over there. It is not about the law, It is about an agenda. There was no law when we were attacked in the past”
“We are promising to cooperate with you, we will however wait to see your modus operandi. It’s not difficult to detect a genuine project. Be informed that in our silence we also have a God that can rise up and defend us.”
Prof Daniel Saror
“I have been to those affected areas, these people are not looking for grass to feed their cattle, their mandate is to kill and take over. If they were looking for grass they won’t carry arms with Islamic inscriptions on them.
Sir don’t let us be fooled into thinking that you are here to protect us, the federal government should also join us in creating ranches all over Nigeria. Colonies and grazing reserves won’t work. Creation of grazing reserve is an evil plan. How do we sleep with people carrying sophisticated arms? Ranching is the only way out for us. Sir, the president sent you to Benue and you couldn’t drive straight, you had to stop over at Nasarawa state? Why? We have lost confidence in your ability to protect us.“
Chief Mrs. Apedzan
“Fulanis are more than IPOB, they are more than Boko Haram. The Federal government sent operation crocodile in the east to flush out Biafra agitators, please send us at least operation lizard sir.”
“Just yesterday, my village was attacked, my house was burnt down. Permit me to speak on the word integrity.
When you were to be appointed, so many senior ranking officers were sacked on the belief that you have integrity, do we believe on this or we should say all that glitters is not gold? We voted overwhelmingly for Mr President, is he saying all that glitters is not gold?
Is it an offence that we have refused to hit back?
Tell Mr President that his integrity is in question. Inform Mr President that by 2019 we are going to vote against him overwhelmingly.“
I want to start by asking this question, is the Governor of Nasarawa state a friend or a foe? Nasarawa state has become a camping ground for our enemies, Commissioner of Police Nasarawa state, what have you been doing?
IGP sir, are you here to ridicule us, if not you must arrest all the culprits before you leave.
Even yesterday, the leader of Miyetti Allah said on the television that our anti grazing law in Benue is impracticable.
Now that you are here, go to these affected areas and see things for yourself.
Last year when Agatu was affected and the Fulanis ran to Nasarawa state, the Benue state assembly member from Agatu reported to your office, (then you were Commissioner from Nasarawa state.) You said until you received information from the headquarters, today you are in the headquarters. IGP, in clear terms, you are not doing enough.
“Sir, if the Nigerian Police can not protect us, we will exercise our constitutional right by defending ourselves. Tell Mr President that since he can not come to Benue to sympathize with us, he should forget the idea of coming here for campaigns by 2019”
Governor Samuel Ortom
“You have confirmed that you saw my letters, warning of the threats from herdsmen, but said you have not seen those of the speaker.
I advice you, overhaul your secretariat.”