Southern, M-Belt leaders visit Benue, insist on restructuring

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By Emma Amaize, Jimitota Onoyume, Peter Duru, Perez Brisibe & Gabriel Ewepu
•Declare Benue grazing law panacea to herdsmen killings
•N’Delta militants demand restructuring, threaten fresh attacks
•16 govs agree to provide cattle colonies
•Herdsmen: Don’t turn Ekiti to war zone — Fayose warns
MAKURDI —The leadership of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Middle Belt and South South Forum, yesterday, stormed Makurdi, Benue State, urging President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to embrace the call for the restructuring of the country to save it from imminent collapse.

Members of the leadership of the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, including the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Afenifere, Middle Belt and South South Forums with Governor Samuel Ortom(middle) after a condolence visit to the people and Government of Benue State in Makurdi, yesterday. Photo: Peter Duru.

The leaders, who were in the state to commiserate with Governor Samuel Ortom and the people over the killing of 73 indigenes by herdsmen on new year day, also declared their support for the open grazing prohibition law enacted by the state government.

They also urged other state governments to adopt the law in their various states to check the menace of herdsmen in the country, noting that it was the way to go.

This came on a day Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, also called for restructuring of the country, declaring anybody opposed to it, including the Federal Government, as an enemy.

Southern, Middle Belt leaders in Benue

Ohanaeze:

Speaking on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, the President-General, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, noted that since military intervention in Nigerian politics, the Nigerian Constitution has become a huge fraud.

He said:  “I have never seen a country practice democracy and does not respect the voice of the people.  We need to restructure Nigeria now or in the next seven years, Nigeria will be extinct.

“Restructuring is a national imperative. How can we have a security council consisting of a people from a particular section of the country?  It is not fair.  Are we a conquered people?

“I recall that the global terrorist index rated herdsmen as the fourth most dangerous terrorist group in the world but the federal government has continued to look the other way as they continue to wreak havoc in the country. Nigerians must rise and fight against tyranny in our land.

“If politicians fail to address these issues and fail to restructure the country, a time will come when Nigerians will dance on their graves.  The truth is that the people of Nigeria are tired of this country.

“We must commend Governor Samuel Ortom for his uncommon courage in the face of adversity, he has shown that he is a civilian general.’’

Afenifere:

On his part, the leader of Afenifere delegation, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, urged all Nigerians to support the restructuring of the country to save it from collapse.

He said:  “The problem we are facing in Nigeria today was created by the Constitution the military imposed on us.

“Anything it will take to get us out of this bondage, we will stand firmly with it because the matter is beyond politics.

“If we go ahead to conduct any election in Nigeria without changing the Constitution that makes your president the most powerful man in the world, even more powerful than the president of America, we are finished.

“We all want to be in Nigeria on terms imposed on us by every section of the country because it will be the people’s Constitution.”

While lamenting the leadership style of President Buhari, Chief Adebanjo said: “l had warned Nigerians about President Buhari because he is not a democrat.’’

The elder statesman, who condemned the killings in Benue State, stated that herdsmen never believed that any other tribe existed in the country, describing the impression as regrettable.

South South Forum:

On his part, the leader of the South South Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Ikanga, retd, warned that all was not well with the country, especially where the innocent were being killed.

“We are totally behind Governor Ortom because the greater number of the soldiers that fought the civil war that kept this country united were from Benue.

“What happened in the state has further strengthened the call for the restructuring of the country.

“We are saying that there must be Nigeria but it must be a country where justice must prevail.”

 

Middle Belt Forum:

Also speaking, the leader of the Middle Belt Forum, Bala Takaya, said the bloodshed in Nigeria was getting too much.

“We pray that the blood of those killed will not go in vain, it will cry for justice before the throne of grace and justice, the author of life.

“What happened in Benue is nothing but an ethnic cleansing. How then can we describe a situation where evil forces will besiege the homes of innocent people and murder them in cold blood?

“The events in the country at the moment have again brought to the fore, the need for the restructuring of the country in order to save Nigerians more pains and anguish.”

More people still being killed by herdsmen —Ortom

Welcoming the delegation, Governor Samuel Ortom promised that Benue will work with the group to foster greater unity among the people of the zones.

He lamented that despite the deployment of more security personnel to the state to check the killings, more persons were still being killed by herdsmen.

He said: “Just yesterday, four persons were killed in Logo and Guma and the fact is that our state is in a siege.

“That is why we are still insisting on the arrest of those we have identified as the masterminds of the killings.

“Because of these developments, it has even become imperative that this country is restructured to address these challenges,’’ the governor said.

N-Delta militants vow to resume bombings if…

Meanwhile, Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has called for restructuring of the country, warning that anybody oppose to it, including the Federal Government, is an enemy.

The NDA, in a statement by the spokesperson, self-styled “Major General” Murdoch Agbinibo, also vowed to resume another round of attacks, in the next few days on oil installations in the Niger Delta, if the Federal Government failed to listen to its  new demands, including control of  ownership of resources and release of detained Niger Delta activists.

The NDA said:  “While promising a brutal outpouring of our wrath, which shall shake the coffers of the failed Nigerian nation, our demand unambiguously is for the government to restructure this country.

“We wish to state in plain terms that anybody against restructuring is an enemy of this country and particularly an enemy of the Niger Delta Avengers and we shall not rest until such enemies are defeated by the Niger Delta people, who earnestly seek to control our own resources.

“Happy Doomed Year Nigeria – Get Ready for Operation down FSPO attack; this time shall be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals, which include Bonga Platform, Agbami, EA Field, Britania-U Field, Akpo Field, amongst others, littered across the deep waters of the Niger Delta region.

“As for the Egina FPSO, we are advising the operators to let it stay wherever it is right now as we are tracking its movement. We mean it when we say they (the oil installations) shall dance to the sound of the fury of the Niger Delta Avengers. Good a thing the ocean is wide enough to accommodate as many wrecks as possible.

“The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers wishes all Niger Deltans a happy New Year as we admonish the Nigerian government to brace up for the doom as we have finished all arrangement to unleash on the oil sector in a few days’ time.

Our resolve — NDA

“On January 15, 2018, being the 62nd historic remembrance day of the 1956 discovery of commercial oil by Shell Darcy in the now forgotten and dejected Oloibiri community in the Niger Delta, the high command of the ND Avengers summoned a meeting of all our operatives from across the Niger Delta to review the progress of our operations so far and deliberated on the planned actions for the future.

“It was agreed at that meeting that the killings and division currently playing out in Nigeria along divergent grounds make this the perfect time to restructure this country.

“On November 3, 2017,  we promised to reactivate ‘operation red economy’ but as usual, some overzealous and over patriotic elders intervened and appealed as they have done twice before then for us to avail them some more time to attend to the demands of the Niger Delta as championed by the Niger Delta Avengers.

“That we have not achieved any meaningful results, despite the opportunities we have availed the Niger Delta elders means that they are either irresponsible or the Nigerian government is not sincere with them as it is their trade in stock.

“Because of the above, we have resolved not to listen to the Niger Delta elders as we unravel our New Year package to the failed Nigerian state this time around.

“We want to control our resources and directly use them to better our lot instead of being enslaved and made to beg before crumbs are released in a dress rehearsal-like manner to intervention agencies that are ineffective at addressing our challenges.

“While $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account is being released to fight Boko Haram in the North, successive governments act blind to the very bold array of challenges in our region, from which this wealth is generated. They (the Nigerian Government) derives pleasure in sending their unprofessional and weak military to invade our communities and subject our already sick and suffering people to more hardship and poverty.

“Only a few days ago, the Nigerian Army released 244 members of the murderous Boko Haram sect to Borno State government,  while thousands of innocent Niger Delta youths continue to suffer in various prisons across the country for no just cause.

“It is on the above premise that we are demanding the immediate release of all Niger Delta activists and freedom fighters that are held captive by the Nigeria Armed Forces.

Killing of Kareowei

“The extra-judicial cold blooded murder of Kareowei and 20 members of his gang by the Nigerian Army after deceiving them with Amnesty offer is very unprofessional.

“Yes, they were common criminals who brought pain to our own people, but going ahead to murder them after reaching an agreement with them and making them to surrender to the army is a clear pointer to the insincerity of the Nigerian government at handling issues that concern the Niger Delta.

“Just like the Nigerian government daily deceive the international community on how professional the multinationals are carrying out their operations and how vast they have developed our lands when the reverse is actually the case on ground.

“Let the Kareowei issue be a lesson to all freedom fighters across the Niger Delta, never to fall for the antics of the insincere Nigerian government, put the fear of death aside and fight till the last drop of blood whenever you are engaged in a gun duel with the Nigeria Army as it is this same path we have chosen to glory.

“Again, the Niger Delta Avengers wish Nigeria a doomed 2018, courtesy the skilled hands of our fierce and smooth operatives across the Niger Delta.’’

16 govs agree to provide cattle colonies

Meanwhile, Vanguard has learned that 16 state governors mostly in the North have responded to the request from the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, to provide grazing reserves termed as colonies for cattle grazing.

The minister, Vanguard learned, had in a letter to all 36 governors in the country requested them to provide 5,000 hectares of land to be used for grazing.

Vanguard gathered that the request from the minister was upon the dislocation or appropriation of many grazing reserves provided in the Northern provinces during the First Republic. Most of the grazing reserves, it was learned, were appropriated during military rule mostly by retired generals who turned to farming at the end of their time in service.

Benue State was not one of the states that gave a positive response to the request, a source said.

A source in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the governors positively responded to the letter written to them by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

He said: “The Minister actually wrote to the 16 governors and their response was positive, and they were the governors who had indicated interest in cattle ranches before now.

“It is just semantics, and they are ready for the kick off of the cattle colony.”

South South to hold summit

In a related development, the South South is set to convoke a summit on restructuring  to  harmonize the various views in the region towards formal restructuring of the nation.

Coordinator of the summit, Professor Kimse Okoko, in a statement yesterday, said the one-day summit to be organised by  Project Nigeria Movement and other groups, will create a robust opportunity for political leaders in the zone to rub minds with leaders from other zones on critical issues as restructuring, resource ownership and control, state police, parliamentary system, number of federating units and other burning issues threatening peace in the country.

He said the summit, billed for Port Harcourt, Rivers State,  next week, also has former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Atta; former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; Chief Solomon Asemota of Edo State, SAN, Chief O.C.J. Okocha of Rivers State and Chief Idu Amaidhe as conveners and will attract governors of the South South states.

“The main objective of the summit is to build a south South consensus on restructuring which will be followed by a negotiated harmonization of the positions/options of the South West, South East, South South and the Middle Belt which will form the basis of the negotiations with our Northern counterparts,’’ Okoko said.

 

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