The Nigerian Army is adjusting the deployment of its troops as part of measures to end the massive killings in Agatu communities of Benue State, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has said.
Mr. Buratai, a Lieutenant General, who said this during his visit to a military tactical operational base, near Otukpo in Benue, expressed confidence that the mayhem would be contained.
According to him, all logistics and other requirements have been provided for the operation.
“The crisis here is unfortunate, the farmers and herdsmen fighting must not be condoned. I have heard from the commander about the existence of criminal elements who engage in cattle rustling.
“We have observed the deployment of troops on ground, we are adjusting our troops deployment to take care of the flash-points and likely areas where the criminals are hiding,’’ he said.
Mr. Buratai said measures had been adopted to ensure that the clashes did not repeat and the people return to their settlements.
He, however, noted that the troops were cooperating with other security agencies to restore peace and order in the area.
Deadly clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Agatu and environs have claimed many lives and displaced many families.
On Friday, PREMIUM TIMES published a special report featuring horrifying details uncovered during a week-long investigation of the killing in Agatuland.
We reported how most of the communities had been destroyed and burnt down, while farmlands had been turned to grazing grounds for cattle.
But the human cost is even more devastating.
At the time our reporter visited, while many charred bodies still littered the deserted communities, living had become difficult for thousands who luckily escaped and were now taking refuge in neighbouring towns of Apa and Otukpo.
There were complaints by the displaced persons that no help had come from the National Emergency Management Agency.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Saleh Bayeri, the Interim National Secretary of Gan Allah Fulani Association, rose in defence of his kinsmen, saying the February bloody conflict in Benue was a reprisal attack by his people against the Agatus who he accused of killing, in 2013, a prominent Fulani man.
Gan Allah Fulani Association is an umbrella body of Fulani associations in Nigeria.
Mr. Bayeri said the killing of the man reverberated amongst every Fulani in West Africa.
He insisted that the Agatu farmers were aggressors shedding crocodile tears, and wondered why former Senate President, David Mark, was only just realising the meaning of genocide.
On Saturday, members of the House of Representatives from Benue State addressed journalists in Abuja, condemning the Federal Government over the attacks on the Agatu communities.
The lawmakers threatened to resort to self-help should the Federal Government allow the attacks to fester.
“If the Federal Government does not stop its lukewarm attitude towards finding solution to the killings, we may be forced to mobilise our people to defend ourselves,” Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who led the lawmakers to the briefing,said.
Other lawmakers -Benjamin Wayo, Udende Memga, John Dyegh, Terseer Gbilla, Awwulu Ezekiel, Adamu Entonu, Christian Abah, Samson Okwu, Hembe Herman, Dickson Dominic – took turns to condemn the attacks and demanded action from government.