The leaders of Benue State socio-cultural groups and tribal leaders say any plan by the Federal Government to build houses and settlements for Fulani herdsmen in any part of the state will be resisted.
According to the leaders, the recent announcement by the Federal Government of its intention to build 1,000 housing units in seven states, including Benue, smacked of mischief and would not be welcomed in the state.
In a statement issued by the President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, Worldwide, Iorbee Ihagh and the President-General of Ochetoha k’Idoma, OKI, AVM Toni Adokwu (retd), the groups stated that no part of the state would be ceded for the construction of houses and colonies that would house Fulani herders.
The leaders lamented that over two million Benue indigenes displaced by armed herders still reside in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps scattered across the state and urged the Federal Government to call off the project, which it claimed was part of a broad plan to address conflicts in the northern part of the country and would have such facilities as schools, clinics, veterinaries and ranches for the Fulani community.
They said the construction of such a facility in Benue State would go through a process that will have the inputs of all stakeholders, particularly the state government, lamenting the hasty manner in which the project was planned and subsequently approved.
The statement noted that the signal they are getting is that the idea may have been conceived, hatched, packaged and handed over to the present administration for implementation and questioned the hasty manner in which the project scaled through all the hurdles and even billed for implementation, without the state government getting a whiff of the idea from its conception.
It said the ethnic groups in the state have resolved to file behind the State Governor, Hyacinth Alia, not to cede any portion of the state to anyone, not even the Federal Government, to build settlements for ‘oppressors’.
The leaders called on President Bola Tinubu to call off the project and direct the relevant agencies to commence a resettlement and rehabilitation process for IDPs in the state to return to their ancestral homes.
They drew Tinubu’s attention to the situation in Moon Council Ward of Kwande LGA, where the locals had been sacked and their homes occupied by armed herdsmen, asking him to urgently intervene in the matter and embrace the Benue State ranching law to ensure peaceful coexistence between farmers and herdsmen in the state.