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Benue killings: protesters shut down National Assembly entrance

By our correspondent

Protesters under the umbrella body of the Vanguard Against Tiv Massacre (VATIM) on Thursday thronged the National Assembly main entrance demanding the immediate vacation of herdsmen from Benue.

The protest which began from the Unity Fountain in Maitama at about 8.a.m, arrived the National Assembly complex gate at about 10.30am.

The activities of the protesters inhibited movement of vehicles in and  out of the complex till about 1.p.m, the time of filing this report.

The protesters carried placard which read “Our farmers must be free from herdsmen attack”, “Herdsmen attacks must stop now.”

Others read “Enough of this inhumane activities of herdsmen”, “Nigeria belongs to we all”, “It is a shame that government cannot protect innocent citizens.”

The spokesman of the group, Mr Frank Utoo in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said it was farming season and farmers were ready to return to the farms.

He said the National Assembly should immediately initiate a bill for an Act to make it mandatory for cattle rearers to own ranches across the country.

He said cattle were not to be reared on arable farmlands but to be restricted to ranches so as to avoid grazing on farmlands.

According to him, no fewer than 30 lives had been lost in the most recent herdsmen attack in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue.

He said the aged, women and children were the major victims of the massacre unleashed by the herdsmen in the area.

The spokesman said it was unfortunate that the defenceless were the major targets of the hoodlums.

Also speaking, Mr Tersoo Akula said the killing has been going on for the past 12 years and government had been paying lip services.

“Every year, we come here and we hear empty promises; what is this ‘everything within the limit of the law’ that we shall never do?

“We want to say that we are completely not satisfied with the responds of the Government of Nigeria as far as herdsmen/ farmer crisis is concern in Benue.

“There seem to be a classical agenda to whip the Benue race but this is our message, it is not possible.

“We are of the tribe of warriors, if not for the constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we can protect ourselves.

“The fact that we have not taken arms or formed a militia front to address these herdsmen head-on, is not an act of weakness.

“We want the government of Nigeria to know this, if they continue to push to the wall, we will have no choice because the first law of the universe is self survival,” he said.

Earlier in an attempt to receive the protesters on behalf of the Senate, Sen. George Sekibo (Rivers-PDP) said the red chambers had seen the harassment of the locals by herdsmen.

He said the senate was aware and had seen the killings by herdsmen in various places across th country.

The lawmaker recalled that in the last senate, a team of senator went down to Benue to see where house were burnt, properties destroyed and human beings killed.

He said in the current senate, not less than three motions had been raised in relation to the activities of herdsmen.

“The Senate is standing by you; we shall do everything within the limits of the law to ensure these herdsmen are taken to particular area where they can feed their cattle,” the lawmaker said.

The protesters, however, refused to be addressed by the lawmaker and demanded that the Senate President addresses them in person.

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