Benue herdsmen’s attacks: The politics, intrigues

Benue State is predominantly Christian. But there are Muslims who are natives among the Tiv, the largest dominant tribe, and the Idoma, who are the second largest tribe in the state. However, while there are councils in the Idoma area that are predominantly Muslims, no such thing exists in the Tiv area.

But like in most parts of the country, there are those referred to as settlers scattered around the state, most of whom are Muslims, and who are today claiming to be natives of the state; Makurdi, the state capital, which is part of the councils in the Tiv area, is a classical example here.

Governor Samuel Ortom is a Tiv man and a Christian. But, because of the ethno-political sentiments that characterised the 2015 general elections, Ortom, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in 2015 benefitted from the same sentiments. This perhaps explains why at the beginning, following the invasion of Agatu communities, an Idoma speaking area by Fulani herdsmen, Ortom rather than gather political leaders in the area, most of whom are Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, turned the way of Nasarawa State, where another APC governor, Tanko Al-Makura calls the shot.

In February 2017 for instance, Ortom was accused of allegedly ceding an island in Idoma land, without the consent of the locals, to Fulani herdsmen, for grazing.

Coming exactly one year after many people were killed with hundreds of houses burnt and farmlands destroyed, following Fulani herdsmen’s invasion of Agatu communities, the locals are seeing the governor’s action as an affront on its people, and a grand design to “depopulate the area, ahead of the 2019 polls.”

After the 2015 herdsmen invasion, which left thousands of the locals stranded, and scattered across Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the state, the invading Fulani herdsmen had after sacking the communities, occupied their homes, until the Agatu people managed to reclaim their lands

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