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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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);
- 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.
- I urge the Federal Government to offer compensation and
ensure speedy return of the displaced back to the affected communities.
- 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
Paul Angya Ph.D, KSM, fsi