A professional body, the Idoma League of Editors, ILE, has reacted to the persistent bloodbath in Benue State, regretting that the bloodletting in the state has degenerated to a level where the Church, priests and parishioners are not spared.
Following Tuesday’s killing of about 19 persons including Catholic priests in Ayar Mbalom village in Gwer East LGA of Benue State, no fewer than 20 persons have again been reportedly killed and several persons declared missing after herdsmen attacked Tse Agudu in Mbawa Council Ward, Guma LGA Area of Benue State.
In a statement issued on Wednesday and signed by its President, Adoyi Ali, and Secretary, Ameh Comrade Godwin, ILE called on President Muhammadu Buhari to concretely address the unconscionable killings in Benue by dealing decisively with the killer herdsmen in same manner that Biafra proponents were hounded.
Noting that the attacks on villages and towns in Benue continued and increased even with the recently concluded Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, the editors wondered the impact of the exercise on the security situation in Benue.
The editors reminded Buhari of the role played by the state and the entire Middle-Belt region in his emergence as President in 2015, stressing that states in the region currently being invaded by herdsmen are swing states that decide the political fortune of every presidential aspirant.
According to the statement, “The Idoma League of Editors has never been this worried and devastated since it was founded. We are devastated because Benue and the entire Middle-belt have never witnessed this type of careless and unwarranted massacre in any era. Yet, the President has still not deemed it fit to declare the murderous herdsmen terrorists.
“As editors, we can authoritatively confirm that this type of killings did not take place even when the activities of Boko Haram were at the peak and now that the battle has been taken to the church with the killing of two Rev. Fathers, it has become clear that the pogrom is equally religious.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency act now. His blatant inaction in the face of this atrocity being committed against Benue and its people signifies an endorsement of the ongoing killings as every leader has got his own body language.
“We deserve to understand the body language of the President and Commander-in-Chief. We deserve to know if he still belongs to all and for nobody in particular. We deserve to know if Benue and the entire Middle-belt still have a stake in this country.
“One thing that has bothered us as editors is that no single attacker has been brought to book since the beginning of the crisis.
”The Benue people are not even sure who their attackers are. Popular opinions believe those making attempt to take over the state are Fulani herdsmen, but other security sources have said Boko Haram insurgents have infiltrated the Middle-belt and the Food Basket State.
”This is why the President needs to be proactive. Like the rest of us, he needs to know the kind of war the Benue people are facing. But he can’t know this at his comfort zone (Aso Villa). He must come out to address this issue in person. He must have an opinion about the killings, he has to express same.
“The struggle for the revamping and growth of the Nigerian economy will achieve nothing if the Benue massacre continues. Benue is strategic in terms of Agriculture and must not be left alone in this type of crisis.
”The destruction of crops and the displacement of farmers have currently created unimaginable hardship in the state, and by extension in the entire Middle-belt,” the editors said, warning that if nothing is done immediately, “the entire country will face the consequences of the inaction of president Muhammadu Buhari”.