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Friday, 17 March 2017

Photos; Benue protesters besiege National Assembly of killings in Benue by Fulani

Protesters under the aegis of Vanguard Against Tiv Massacre (VATIM) on Thursday thronged the National Assembly main entrance demanding immediate vacation of Benue by herdsmen.
The peaceful protest in Abuja, which was staged to draw the National Assembly leadership’s attention to the killings in Benue State, did not achieve much of its aim as both the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, House of Representive members and Senators representing them failed to turn up to address the protesters.

The protest, which started at 9:0am, disrupted both human and vehicular movements, as workers, visitors and some legislators, who had come early for work, could not gain entry because protesters had barricaded the main entrance and exit gates of the complex. 
The protesters, numbering more than 200, chanted songs calling on the legislature to intervene in the matter.
They carried placards which bore “our ancestral homes are not cattle grazing routes, stop the killing in Benue State’’ and “Nigeria risks famine if farmlands are not made safe for our people’’, among others.
Spokesman of the group, Mr Frank Utoo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that incessant killing of farmers had adversely affected farming activities in the state.
Utoo said that in spite of the fact that it was farming season, farmers were not ready to return to the farms for fear of being attacked.
He called on the National Assembly to pass a bill that would make it mandatory for herdsmen to own ranches across the country.
According to him, cattle should not to be reared on arable farmland but restricted to ranches so as to avoid grazing on farmlands.
Utoo said that no fewer than 30 lives had been lost in the most recent herdsmen attack in Buruku Local Government Area of the state.
The protesters rejected a delegation of the National Assembly leadership, comprising three senators, including Jeremiah Useni (PDP, Plateau South), Thomson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) and Saaba Lafiagi (APC, Kwara North).
Although Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers), who addressed the protesters on behalf of President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said the red chamber was aware of the harassment of locals by herdsmen.
He said that about three motions had been raised in relation to the activities of herdsmen in the state and other parts of the country, adding that the upper chamber was not resting on its oars.
“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.
Sekibo told them that the National Assembly was working toward a lasting solution to the problem.
The co-convener  of the protest, Akula Tersoo, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, “stop the killings in Benue by herdsmen and their hired mercenaries.”

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