Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, northcentral Nigeria, has raised the alarm that insurgents now disguise as fulani herdsmen to terrorize communities in his state.
Suswam raised the alarm Monday when leaders and stakeholders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from North Central geographical zone paid President Goodluck Jonathan a solidarity visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The North Central PDP stakeholders were led to the Villa by former National Chairman of the Party, Senator Ahmadu Ali and made up of PDP governors, Senators including Senate President, David Mark, House of Representatives members, elders and party leaders from the zone.
While speaking on the insecurity in the zone, Governor Suswam said the group that have been attacking villagers in his state are not the normal herdsmen Nigerians know.
The Governor said he held an all-night meeting with the leadership of Miyetti Allah at the Government House in Makurdi on Sunday night where they also insisted that the attackers are mercenaries that infiltrated the state and other parts of the country to exacerbate the security challenges.
“I have interacted with a lot of Fulani friends and they have told me that those people are not the fulanis that are indigenous to Nigeria.
“Last night, the President General of Miyetti Allah spent the night with me in Benue State. He told me there was a need for us to form a joint force: that is the Benue and the Fulani communities to fight these people who are creating these problems which clearly shows that these are people who are foreign even to the fulanis that we know,” the governor said.
According to Suswam, the people are worried because elections are around the corner, adding that he had always believed that it is not just the Fulani herdsmen that are doing what they are doing in the zone but some insurgents who are disguising as Fulani men.
“Mr. President, what we have witnessed lately are well trained people who are trained to kill and destroy and the manner of destruction is so massive and is unimaginable. The North Central is very worried. The state mostly affected are Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue.”
The Governor noted that although Fulani men are well known, he is surprised that in spite of the magnitude of destruction that is going on, no one person has so far been arrested.
“We are worried that without appropriate sanctions, they will continue with impunity because once people are not sanctioned, they don’t take that seriously and I think the appropriate example must be shown.
“Mr. President, you must insist that your security must arrest these people. If you see the level of destruction and the fact that no person has been arrested, it becomes worrisome. Mr. President, how these people get their arms, because they are carrying very sophisticated weapons, is also an issue that we are worried about and I believe that Mr. President is also very worried because all of us swore to the constitution to protect lives and property.
“But in a situation where we have some evil men deliberately conniving with some forces that we believe are subterranean, to destroy this country and the good achievements that you have put in place should be something that should worry all of us. So, the governors of the zone asked me to urge you to continue to put in all efforts in addressing these very important security problems,” he said.
Suswam was a victim of the herdsmen’s (suspected insurgents) attack last month when his convoy came under heavy gunfire after the attackers invaded some communities in his state, beheading at least 30 people and setting houses ablaze.
The governor was on his way to Guma Local Government Area of the state to assess the damage done to the communities when he was attacked.
According to The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Suswam was visiting the council on a fact finding mission following the continuous invasion of the area by gunmen.
The governor’s convoy was attacked by the hoodlums at Tse-Akenyi and this led to an exchange of gun shots between Suswam’s security guards and the herdsmen.
Suswam, who visited the people at Gbajimba, the council headquarters, to sympathise with them, said that the situation was disturbing.
He added that people must defend themselves if the security operatives failed to do their job.
Meanwhile, during Monday’s visit to Aso Villa, President Jonathan thanked the zone for saving him and his office from embarrassment by producing governor David Jonah Jang of Plateau state to lead Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF.
The forum had become factionalised last year when Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State led 16 other governors to form a rival NGF.
This was after they lost election to produce the Chairman of the Forum to the main faction led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi. 19 Governors had voted for Amaechi while 16 Governors voted for Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State believed to have the support of the President.
The Forum at a time he said the Amaechi led NGF had become a monster.
“When the Governors’ Forum became a monster and we had a lot of challenges, it was the North Central that came on board to stabilize the governors’ forum.
“The way some of the governors talk and behave, if 50 percent of the governors behave that way, probably, we would have vacated this place and allow others to come and manage it for us. But they (the North Central) have been able to help to stabilize the whole country,” Jonathan said.
The President who also noted that the North Central zone has been able to produce great and patriotic leaders promised to continue to work with the zone and encourage the people to be more supportive.
“As we approach elections next year, let us know the problems on time; we will work with you to ensure PDP continues to maintain the zone.”
President Jonathan also said that security personnel are already implementing a lot of initiatives to tackle the problem of insecurity confronting the states in the zones while security men have been drafted to the trouble spots in the zone to strengthen the conventional security apparatus.
The President said he is working with his National Security Adviser to make sure that the security challenges across the country, whether in Borno state or the kidnapping in Edo state, Bayelsa state, Rivers state, Abia state and so on are tackled.
“We are coming up with different architecture that will deal with this insurgency. As we progress, we will begin to bring the situation under control.”
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