WEEPING AND WAILING FOR BENUE PART II: A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE By Paul Angya Ph.D, KSM, fsi

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Paul Angya Ph.D, KSM, fsi

 

Never before in my life have I experienced this depth of frustration

and helplessness. With all my innate sense and knowledge of what is

right and wrong; with all my experience as a Lawyer of International

repute for the last 33 years and experience and extensive contacts in

the Federal Civil Service for the last 19 years at the highest levels,

including one of which I acted as Director General/Chief Executive;

never before have I felt this level of helplessness and anguish, the

continuing progrom against the Tiv people.

 

My heart bleeds, that once again, within a short period of 3 months. I

am compelled to write on what seems to be the genocide and ethnic

cleansing being methodically and systematically conducted against us,

the TIV people – inhabitants of the Benue valley, and as it’s becoming

increasingly clear, based on recent happenings, with the active

collusion, collaboration and participation of the Nigerian Army.

 

On the 8th of January 2018, in response to the invasion and killing –

(ethnic cleansing) that occurred in Tiv land, I wrote the piece titled

Weeping and Wailing for Benue wherein I cried “where is our standard

bearer, who like Moses in the battle against the Amaleks at Raphidim,

will hold up his arms for us to prevail or like Joshua, will stretch

out his spear toward Ai (for Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith

he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the

inhabitants of Ai). Who is the standard bearer at this time of our

travails, when a mighty army surrounds us and is about to overwhelm

us? How can we even sing our Lord’s song in our own land? Alas, our

elected leaders have slunk into their shells with flimsy and pitiable

excuses. At a time like this, we need leaders to stand up and radiate

energy, exude confidence and hope of a better tomorrow, onto a

pulverised and traumatised people and not slink into hiding like some

vermin or other creepy creatures afraid of the sunlight. Where is that

leader? Where is that standard bearer?

Inspite of my writing, inspite of the national and international

outcry and global condemnation, the murders, the killings, the program

has continued unabated. As disclosed by Rtd. General Theophilus

Danjuma, a former Army Chief of Staff and civilian Minister of

Defense, and now confirmed by all Benue indigenes, this progrom is

with the active connivance, collusion, collaboration and participation

of the Nigerian Army, with a deafening conspiracy of silence from the

Nigerian political leadership.

Like I asked the question on the 8th of January, I ask again today,

where are our elected leaders?

 

Hundreds of Benue citizens are being killed on a daily basis – the

latest of which was the attack on the Catholic Church in Gwer East and

the killing of two Catholic Priest and the lay faithful at their

morning Mass. Numbers in terms of deaths no longer shock even the

people of Benue. There appears to be a well-designed, orchestrated and

approved plan (at the highest levels) to systematically and

methodically exterminate the TIV race from the face of the earth.

Since the murder of the Catholics, hundreds more have been killed in

Gwer West and East, Guma and the Logo local governments.

 

There is no official word from any authority in Nigeria. Not the

Police, not the Army not the Presidency. There is a seeming conspiracy

of silence throughout the nation. If you weren’t a TIV person (did not

personally feel the pain and anguish of the Tiv people) you would not

believe that this magnitude of murder is being conducted on a daily

basis in Nigeria in this 21st century.

 

The murderous Fulani herdsmen have sacked and taken over all TIV

ancestral homes and land in Nasarawa State comprising Obi, Awe, Kiana,

Adudu, Nasarawa Toto, Doma and the East side of Lafia, here again with

the active collaboration and support of the Nasarawa State Government.

Large groups of Armed Fulani marauders are camped in those villages

under the protection of the government from where they move into Benue

to plunder, maim and kill. In Benue State, the Fulani killers have

taken over and now occupy most of Guma, Logo, Gwer west and East Local

Governments.

 

On Sunday the 22nd day of April, I personally had a horrendous

encounter with these Fulani killers. I had attended a thanksgiving

service at the NKST Church Naka organized by the Benue Society for the

blind and to also commiserate with the victims of the Army attacks on

Naka (the burning and sacking of the city). On my way back to Makurdi,

I was advised to go through Taraku-Aliade road (a distance of about 2½

hours, given the nature of the road as against the Naka – Makurdi

road, a distance of about only one hour). This according to the

residents was because, that country side is taken over by the Fulani

killers. Because I did not completely believe that in this 21st

century, a government with coercive powers of the police and the

military would stand idly by and watch one race exterminate another

and occupy their land, I chose to ignore the advice and proceed on

this route. To my utter shock and dismay, this decision was suicidal.

It was only the grace of God that brought my team and I out of that

occupied zone alive.

 

The entire countryside, stretching from Naka town to Adeke in Makurdi,

a stretch of about 60 kilometers or one-hour drive, had no single

living TIV soul. All homes, houses and farms were deserted 100% and in

their place I saw Fulani cattle spread over the entire country side

like water on land (must have been over a hundred thousand cattle)

with murderous Fulani guards slinging AK47 rifles on their shoulders

in broad day light (about 3pm) without a single Police or Army

presence. Half way through this valley of death, one of the Gun toting

herdsmen decided to take aim at us. It was the quick reaction of the

Police guard on my team who quickly aimed and cocked his gun at him

that caused him to beat a retreat. I can confirm that the Fulani’s

have taken over more than 40% of TIV land, farms, villages and cities

and still occupy them as we speak without as much as a whimper from

the relevant authorities tasked with the responsibility of our

security.

 

 

2.0     Operation Cat Race

 

What was the objective of the Army operation conducted in March called

“Operation Cat Race” (Ayem a Kpatema) and what did it achieve?

 

I make bold to say that it was aimed at confirming or completing the

disarmament of the TIV people begun by the Benue State Government

under the so-called ‘amnesty program’ and paving the way for

unrestrained slaughter of the TIV people and the plunder and

occupation of their ancestral lands. I believe that, that exercise

achieved its objective, as the army whilst in Benue territory did not

disarm one Fulani invader, but proceeded from house to house to search

and seize even farm implements that looked metallic not to talk of

locally made tools like bows and arrows.  After which mission

accomplished, the Army moved out and the Fulani mercenaries moved in

and are now picking off our people like chickens in a coop. Whilst the

Fulani mercenaries invade, kill and plunder from the East, the

Nigerian Army complements from the West with well-coordinated attack

of burning, destruction and sacking of our cities (Naka a case study).

The TIV race is now hamstrung between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Where do we go from here? Where do we run? Where can we hide? Who can

rescue us? Who will speak for us like Danjuma did for Taraba? If I

were a soldier, I would personally take up arms in defense of my

people. Though I am not, I am determined to be a part of the force for

change that would enthrone a responsive, responsible, competent and

proactive government in Benue State and Nigeria at large, that would

honor its fundamental and constitutional duty of ensuring the welfare

and security of the people.

 

  1. Recommendations

 

  1. I urge the return of our Governor wherever he may have gone, and

the State Government to speak up, to shout to the high heavens and

continue to shout until the world takes notice of the on-going

genocide in Benue.

 

  1. I urge the State Government to begin the compilation of material

evidence and to retain lawyers to file charges against the Federal

Government at the International Court of Justice (ICJ);

 

  1. I urge the Federal Government through the Nigerian Army to begin ‘a

cordon, search and rescue’ of Tiv territories taken over by the

Fulanis’ and our people commencing from all TIV territories in

Nasarawa into Benue and beyond and to permanently station security out

post (therafter) in the recovered territories.

 

  1. I urge the Federal Government to offer compensation and

 

ensure speedy return of the displaced back to the affected communities.

  1. Government must prove itself responsible for the security of our

state and nation by bringing to book those responsible for these

atrocities and ensuring the rule of law. Each human life must count.

 

Finally, I urge all Benue citizens wherever they may be to stop

running, stand and defend your inheritance (the land of our fathers as

they defended it against the jihadists in 1804) if the Government

cannot defend you.

Ultimately, arm yourselves with PVC’s and ensure that this government,

which has failed abysmally in its singular duty of providing the

welfare and protecting the security of our people is voted out of

office come 2019, like general Obasonjo said, ‘you don’t sustain

failure’.

 

Thank you.

 

Paul Angya Ph.D, KSM, fsi

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