Southern, Middle Belt leaders caution FG against declaring state of emergency in Benue

Edwin Kiagbodo Clark

Group says crises caused by long years of poor governance

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum has cautioned the Federal Government against heeding the voice-sponsored groups currently canvassing for declaration of a state of emergency in Benue State.The leaders said such a move now would attract similar dire consequences like it did when it was declared in the Western Region during the First Republic.

In a communiqué issued yesterday by Chief Edwin Clark, who led the South-South; Chief Ayo Adebanjo of South-West, Chief John Nwodo of South-East and Dr. Bala Takaya of Middle Belt after a meeting held in Abuja to review events in the country, the forum also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately stop the ongoing killings in Benue State and other parts of the country.
While it insisted that President Buhari must put appropriate measures in place to disarm all armed herdsmen carrying illegal weapons, the forum added that the culprits behind the Benue killings and other places must be fished out for prosecution.The leaders, who demanded an end to open grazing of cattle and opted for ranching, advised all governors not to concede to the obnoxious demand for ‘cattle colonies’, saying: “Doing so may attract serious consequences.”

The forum, which also called for immediate rejig of the security architecture in the country and judicial probe of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Voters’ Register, said it was alarmed by the perverse culture of under-aged voting, which was palpable in the recent Kano State local council elections.
It described the incidence as open rape of democracy, which it said, was a carry over of the 2015 elections practice and a clear erosion of confidence in the INEC to conduct credible elections.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the aegis of Gender Advocacy for Justice Initiative (GAJI), has said that the long years of poor governance and structural imbalances are responsible for the insecurity situation in Benue and other parts of the country.

The group, which expressed dissatisfaction with the practice of federalism in the country, said with the ongoing Operation Cat Race exercise by the Nigerian Army in Benue State to curb the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state, said troops deployed in the state must not only be neutral but also respect the rules of engagement in the operation. 

In a statement issued and signed at the weekend by its Chairman, Cliff Gai and Secretary, Tersoo Agera, the group said their positions were the fall-out of a meeting it convened in Abuja last Friday, February 23, 2018, to identify the immediate, medium and long term strategies in response to the recent developments in Benue State.

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Edwin ClarkJohn Nwodo
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