Fulani herdsmen have accused the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, of being the architect of the clashes between them and the Tiv.
They also claimed that they had lost 134 of their colleagues and 11,915 heads of cattle to the clashes in the last three months in Benue, Plateau and Taraba states.
The herdsmen, under the umbrella body known as Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, specifically traced their woes to Suswam whom, they claimed, stoked the hostilities against them not only in Benue State but in Plateau and Taraba states.
Suswam’s convoy on Tuesday came under attack from some gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen at Tse Akenyi, in Benue State. The governor was on his way to a camp of displaced persons in the Guma Local Government Area of the state when the incident occurred.
The National Vice-President of the cattle breeders association, Hussaini Bosso, told journalists in Minna, Niger State, that their problem in Benue State started when Suswam announced that he did not want them in the state, claiming that the announcement caused the massacre of their members in the three states.
Bosso said that in Benue State alone, the association lost 82 herdsmen and 6,700 cattle and 43 Fulani and 4,682 in Plateau State while nine members of the association and 533 cattle, according to him, were lost in Taraba State.
Bosso claimed that the killings in Benue and Taraba states were carried out by the Tiv and the Beromo in Plateau State.
“All these atrocities were perpetrated by Tiv people. To our surprise, the police were aware, but did not do anything to avert the ugly developments. Not only that the Police felt unconcerned about the matter, the respective governments of the affected states did nothing.”
Bosso appealed to the governments of the three states to, as a matter of urgency , bring an end to the killing of innocent Fulani herdsmen.
However, there was outrage on Wednesday over violent activities of the herdsmen, particularly the attack on Suswam’s convoy.
Prominent groups and Nigerians, including the Arewa Consultaive Forum, the Catholic Church in Benue State, the Middle Belt Forum; the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, and a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, urged the Federal Government to check the activities of the cattle rearers.
Moro in a statement by his Special Adviser, Ubong Udoh, described the attack as morally condemnable, barbaric and callous adding the intention of those behind the attack was to create unnecessary tension ahead of the 2015 elections.
He added that it was meant to slow down the progress the Jonathan administration had recorded in the fight against terrorism and other forms of violence across the country.
The minister, however, expressed confidence that the war against terrorism would become more intense as the government would never give in to the forces of terror.
The Catholic Church, in a statement in Abuja, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently intervene and stop the attacks by the herdsmen.
It recalled that the herdsmen had carried out repeated attacks on the Tiv and farmers in other parts of Nigeria.
Also, Tsav urged government to deal with the attacks on farmers by herdsmen.
Tsav, who is a member of the Security Committee set up by the Northern States Governors’ Forum, stated that government was not doing anything tangible about the crisis in Benue State.
“The problem here is very dicey because now if the Tiv should rise and begin to retaliate, it will eventually degenerate into a religious conflict because people will begin to read such meanings into it.
“Already, people are accusing the Hausa of aiding and abetting the Fulani. Very soon, they will start saying the Hausa too are involved and when this happens, it will begin to spread and when it starts spreading ,only God knows where it will end.
“Government must take a decisive action to stop this thing from spreading because it started from an attack on the Tor Tiv, and now the governor. We are appealing to our leaders to be very rational in dealing with this matter.”