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General News of Monday, 15 March 2021


Herdsmen renaming Benue seized IDPs’ communities - US-based Nigerians

Herdsman Herdsman

A member of the House of Representatives, Mark Gbillah, has criticised the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, for blocking a petition by members of his constituency based in the United States of America.

He said what the presiding officer did was against the Standing Orders of the House.

This was just as the Mutual Union of Tiv in America whose petition was blocked by Wase alleged that herdsmen were taking over and renaming their ancestral land abandoned by Tiv people in parts of Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states due to herders-farmers clashes.

Gbillah, who is representing Gwer-East/Gwer-West Federal Constituency in Benue State, had at the plenary on Wednesday, moved to lay the petition by MUTA.

But Wase, who presided over the session prevented Gbillah from laying the petition, claiming that the House does not entertain petitions from outside the country.

Wase had asked the Benue lawmaker if MUTA was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

According to Gbillah, who faulted the Deputy Speaker, the Constitution gives Nigerians the freedom of association, and that the House has committees that handle issues relating to foreign affairs and the Diaspora.

Our correspondent obtained a copy of the petition on Sunday, dated February 15, 2021, and signed by President of MUTA, Mr Simon Kusugh; and Chairman IDP Committee, MUTA, Prof. Joseph Zume.

It was titled, ‘A petition against the Federal Republic of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari.’

The petition read in part, “The continued neglect/abandonment of hundreds of thousands of Tiv families in IDP camps across Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states has become, not only embarrassing, but also a disgrace to the entire Tiv race worldwide. The time to end the assault on the peace-loving Tiv people of Nigeria is now.

MUTA alleged that since 2013, “armed Fulani herdsmen have repeatedly wreaked havoc on communities in 20 of the 23 local government areas of Benue State, massacring thousands of people, destroying communities and, often, totally obliterating economic and cultural assets.”

Consequently, the association said “hundreds of thousands” of displaced families now occupy 27 IDPs’ camps across the state, with many more cohabiting with relatives in unpalatable conditions.

The group further said, “More depressing is that large swaths of the lands vacated by the victims have been occupied by their violators. In Kwande LGA, for example, the communities of Moon have lost their lands to armed herders who now graze their cows freely on those lands while the real owners languish in IDP camps.”

Speaking to our correspondent on Sunday, Gbillah said the action by Wase was “out of line” as the Standing Rules of the House did not set the conditions for which the Deputy Speaker dismissed the petition.

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