- Calls for withdrawal of statement, sack
- Wants perpetrators fished outout
- Says government has abdicated its major responsibility
The Vanguard Against Tiv Massacre (VATIM) said it has viewed the statement by the Minister of Defence, Munir Dan Ali in which he called on some state governments including Benue state, to repeal the Anti-Open Grazing laws as totally unwarranted.
VATIM in a statement which was wisely circulated to journalists in Nigeria and beyond pointed out that such illicit comments are a clear demonstration of the bias of those who are in charge of the security architecture of the nation.
The release was signed by the Convener of the group, Irene Awunah and its Chairman, Ephraim Sarwuan.
VATIM recalled that in the previous instances where scores of innocent, harmless and peace-loving people were murdered in cold blood, President Muhammadu Buhari waved it aside by carelessly calling on the Benue people to “accommodate” its neighbors. Around the same period too, the Inspector General of Police, Idris Kpotum described killings of such magnitude as simple “communal crises”.
The group maintained that such instances have made them to feel as people who are marked for extinction, a sort of ethnic cleansing pointing out that open and blatant injustice display with such impunity has created room for penchant for a section of the country to hold the rest to ransom.
Issues like lack of fair play, injustice and bellicosity have heightened calls for restructuring of the country, and VATIM, a pan-Tiv ethnic group with membership across all areas of human endeavors, comprehensively supports that.
While strongly condemning the Defence Minister’s assertion, the group said it has become glaring that matters of security have taken the back seat in the scheme of affairs of the present federal government.
“It was with utmost disbelief that we received the statement by Dan Ali. It is quite unfortunate and a misnomer for a high ranking government official to throw caution to the wind and show clearly in his utterances that he has abdicated his basic responsibility.
“Security of lives and property as well as maintaining the territorial integrity of this country is the direct responsibility of any responsible government which is supposed to have been the pre-occupation of the Defence Minister. But in the circumstances of our situation in Benue, we have carefully come to the conclusion that, he has willfully and persistently shown that he has no solution to offer in matters that bothers directly on his duties even as many people are recklessly hacked down by the Fulani herdsmen.
“We view Dan Ali as a man with no conscience who deserves not to hold such exalted public office. For avoidance of doubt, the ongoing killings in Benue state are exacerbated by the body language and outright levity with which officials like him have decided to view the matter. This has given the invaders the leeway and audacity to continuously wreck havoc on our communities.
“We are taking stock of evils that are been perpetrated against our people and we will seek justice for our deceased countrymen, ravaged communities and also in this case demand the immediate sack of Dan Ali hence he has chosen to take side with evil.
“VATIM demands that the Minister retract his comment in addition to offering unreserved apology to the Benue people and indeed all other states that have suffered this brutality”, VATIM noted.
The group called on the international community to take interest in what is happening in Benue in particular and the Middle Belt in general with a view to unleashing appropriate sanctions on those who are found culpable in carrying out these atrocities.