A few days after widely reported infamous accusations made by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar that he is angry with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom over what he falsely claimed the Governor’s profiling of Fulani as bandits and terrorists, there has been renewed spate of dastardly attacks on the people of Benue by suspected Fulani killer herdsmen, the latest of which is the massacre of over 50 persons in Gbeji community of Ukum Government Area of the State in the early hours of Tuesday, October 18, 2022.
We as Forum of Concerned Nigerians have observed with rude shock and total disbelief that Atiku who is a Presidential candidate and a chieftaincy title holder in Benue has up to this moment, not issued a single statement expressing sympathies for the people of Benue State over the killing of innocent persons. More disturbing to us is the fact that Atiku makes campaign promises ensuring security of lives and property, but is not acting the talk, as evident in his loud silence over coordinated
killing spree particularly in Benue.
It is rather suspicious that whenever Atiku speaks concerning the bloodbath which has remained the nightmare of Benue people, he goes all out in defence of Fulani terrorists who perpetrate their heinous terror activities under known groups such as Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM and never hidden their mission. These groups are not invincible, they openly speak to the press in pursuit of their genocidal agenda. Atiku has never for one day called for the arrest and prosecution of leaders of these groups. His only concern has always been that the Fulani people are being profiled. He makes such accusations without any modicum of remorse, thus leaving us to wonder, whether Atiku is an ethnic chauvinist or a national leader and unifier that he aspires to be, especially now that he is again seeking the people’s mandate in next year’s general election.
We must remind Atiku that the Fulani socio-cultural organization, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, FUNAM and similar groups have on many occasions openly claimed responsibility for killings in Benue State, this they did in the national media outfits stating reasons for these mindless attacks. All these years, we have never heard a word of condemnation from Atiku clearly meaning he has sanctioned the activities of the vicious groups that continue to unleash mayhem. We are taken aback by Atiku’s justification when he talks about the Fulani being profiled, how are they profiled when the Fulani groups have constantly boasted about their heinous activities in Benue and elsewhere?
Since the evolution of these senseless killings in Benue by marauding Fulani herdsmen, over 5,000 innocent lives have been lost, just as over 2 million persons have been displaced and are housed in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps across the state. We have it on good record, Atiku has not visited any of the camps to offer hope to the displaced persons, nor has he sent relief materials for the IDPs. His glaring posture of being against Governor Ortom and Benue people for calling out the ruthless terrorists by name, purely portrays Atiku as someone who has openly endorsed the killings of Benue people for his fellow Fulani kinsmen. It is highly condemnable that a leader will take sides with terrorists and killers just because he is of the same ethnic group with such criminal elements.
While Atiku is Fulani and absolves his fellow Fulani kinsmen from killing people without provocation and expects that Ortom should not call them out, there are still other Fulani people like him who acknowledge that their kinsmen are the ones unleashing terror on Nigerians.
We would like to draw his attention to the unambiguous remarks of Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari when he featured on Channels Television programme, on September 6, 2021. He clearly pointed out
that: “Majority of those involved in this banditry are Fulani, whether it is palatable or not, but that is the truth. I am not saying 100 percent of them are Fulani, but the majority of them are. These are people who live in the forests where their main occupation is rearing cattle.They are the same people like me, who speak the same language like me, who profess the same religious beliefs like me. So, what we have here on the ground with these bandits, they are not aliens; they are people who we know.”
We challenge Atiku to also come clean and place himself not as an ethnic jingoist. He must publicly condemn the heinous crimes of his fellow kinsmen as expected of a leader who truly cares about the dire security situation in the country. The sad reality on ground is that not only Benue State is bedeviled by the monstrous activities of Fulani killer groups, Atiku’s home state of Adamawa is not spared by the bloodbath onslaught which must be frontally combated by all Nigerians of good conscience.
It is on record that Atiku who has not shared in the excruciating experience of Benue people as a result of inhuman atrocities committed by Fulani marauders, still trusted Atiku and with the support of their Governor voted overwhelmingly for him in 2019. He defeated President Buhari in Benue State in that year’s general election.
It is shocking that going into the 2023 general election, as a Presidential candidate yet again, Atiku has not done anything to win the confidence of the Benue people. Unfortunately, he rather expects Governor Ortom to condescend into silence when his people are being killed? Is this the type of leader Atiku will be if entrusted with the people’s mandate? He will be for a section of the country and not for all Nigerians? He will pamper and protect terrorists and criminals because of his ethnicity? These and more fundamental questions are begging for answers as we head to the 2023 polls.
As a national conscience group, we would like to see leaders like Atiku walk their talk of the campaign promises they are making to Nigerians. For now, his deafening silence over coordinated and unprovoked killings in Benue State and elsewhere in the country is suspicious. He must prove Nigerians wrong that he has not endorsed the cold blood murder of defenceless citizens by terrorists in Benue State and elsewhere across the country.