While investigations are on-going to apprehend the perpetrators of the recent Benue killings many still think it’s been carried out by members of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), even when the group have submitted to the Anti-Grazing Bill in the State and have also expressed readiness to corporate with security operatives in the investigations to apprehend the criminals.
On Tuesday, armed bandits suspected to be herdsmen launched an attack on St. Ignatius Church, Ukpor-Mbalom, located at Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State, killing two Priests and 17 members of the congregation.
According to the reports, several church members also sustained various bullet wounds and the attackers also invaded houses and farms, setting most of them on fire.
Less than 48 hours after, another attack was carried out on another church in Mbamundo Ukemberagya Logo Local Government Area of the State which claimed 7 lives believed of displaced persons seeking refuge in the Church.
President Buhari, in a statement, condemned the attacks, describing it as “vile and satanic” against innocent citizens of the State.
According to the President’s Media Aide, Femi Adesina, the President commiserates with families of victims in the attacks, saying the attackers are interested in causing division among citizens of the Country.
“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”
The President also urged Nigerians to “resist all temptation to fall into this laid out plan” of those who are threats to the peaceful co-existence of the Country.
He assured citizens that security operatives are already out to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Following the killings in the State, the Senate and House of Representatives had summoned the President for questioning on security matters in the Country.
The House was the first to initiate the call following a motion moved by Mark Gbilah (APC, Benue).
According to Gbilah, “It appears there is no moral will to tackle the matter because continuous complaints about the killings seem to fall on deaf ears.”
The development was also supported in the Senate by George Akume (Benue North West) following a motion on “Continued Killings in Benue State”.
However, there are still claims that the killings are due to the disagreement between MACBAN and the State Government on Anti-Grazing Bill, with the Governor of the State, Samuel Ortom also alleging that the group claimed responsibility of the various attacks
The group had on several occasions, denounced involvement in any of the attacks carried out in the State, and recently, agreed with the Government on the Bill.
In March, MACBAN held a meeting with the State Government where it agreed to corporate on the implementation of the law.
According to North Central Zonal Chairman of MACBAN, Alhaji Danladi Chiroma, the association is also ready to collaborate with security operatives in fishing out the criminals responsible for the various killings in the State.
In another interview with Vanguard in April, the Governor indicated that the group had accepted the law.
“I think that, in Benue, we are winning because Miyetti Allah and MACBAN have accepted that ranching remains the best option to rear cattle,” Ortom said.
“And we commend them and we will work with them to see how our law can wear human face to ensure that we have a win-win for all.”
The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on the 17th of April, gave Miyetti Allah two months to identify and apprehend herdsmen behind killings in Nigeria.
“However, we are giving you two months to go round the entire country and find out why Fulanis are accused of being behind the killings. Go and find out who are those Fulanis doing the killings. Also find out if it is other people that are doing the killings and are accusing the Fulanis. Please, we want to get the truth from you within two months.”