From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
A non-governmental movement in Benue State known as Movement Against Fulani Occupation, MAFO has rejected the recently published report by Amnesty International, AI which claimed that only 726 persons were killed by herdsmen within three years.
The group made the rejection at a press conference held in Makurdi at the weekend, describing the report as ‘misleading’.
Similarly, they frowned at the use of the phrase ‘clashes’, in the title of the report which is “Harvest of Death: Three years of bloody clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria”.
They observed that the title is misleading and unacceptable to Benue people, averring that the use of the word, clashes presupposes some form of confrontation with Fulani herders which is not the case.
‘Hapless Catholic Priests who are not farmers killed during early morning made and thousands of unarmed women and children murdered in their sleep can never be said to be ‘clashing’ with their murderers.
“We insist that the genocide or ethnic cleansing carried out on our defenceless kiths and kin cannot be down played with the the importation of such ridiculous phrases to describe same”.
Legal Adviser of MAFO Terfa Terrence said the AI report is a gross misrepresentation of facts and figures on the true picture of the atrocities committed by the invaders on Benue soil, noting that it aims at tuning down the exact number of casualties.
While commending the bold attempt made by AI to bring the atrocities to the fore, he however, condemned the report of grossly falling short of the standard expected from a reputable international human rights organization such as Amnesty International.
“The window period of the report which is 2016-2018 is misleading as the world may consider the 726 deaths in the report as an encapsulation of the casualty figures in sustained attacks that dates back to 2011 when indeed thousands of people have been killed in Benue alone. We lost over 3,920 people in Agatu in 2016 which was not captured in the report.
“The report also, failed to capture the colossal damage to properties both farmlands and other socio economic base in Benue communities”, Terrence said.
MAFO also, observed the delayed response of Benue State government as stated in the report as inexcusable and must be addressed by the government as a mark of her commitment to the protection of the Benue citizen and restoration of peace to the troubled state.
Terrence frowned at a statement credited to Senator George Akume by the National Secretary of.Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in which he was said to have accused the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom of recruiting the people responsible for the killings of Benue people.
“ Such comment can be best described as a global shame and a practice of politics without humanity, a demonstration of both lack of responsibility and twisting a narrative to suit political interest.
MAFO condemns such comments in totality especially that Sen. Akume who is the Senate Committee Chairman on Army whose senatorial district is worst hit is yet to condemn such acts of killings or seen identifying with the bereaved and displaced people.
MAFO hereby recommends the immediate review of the AI report to reflect the true and current picture of the Benue killings in terms of statistics of both human and properties destroyed and the humanitarian gaps resulting from the crisis and the people living under extreme conditions as a result of the crisis in IDP camps across the State. We also, stand for the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law enacted by the State government t in 2017 as a pathway yo peace and mutual benefits of farmers and herders in the State”, the group stated.