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RUGA: Middle Belt Forum Blows Hot Over Proposed Fulani Settlement

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said it has unequivocally rejected in totality the proposed establishment of Ruga settlements in the region by the federal government.

The forum noted that the policy seeks to exclusively benefit a particular ethnic group against the rest of Nigerians.

Dr lsuwa Dogo, National Publicity Secretary of MBF said in a statement, “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has been drawn to the planned establishment of Ruga settlements for Fulani herdsmen all over the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT by the President Muhamamdu Buhari-led Federal Government.

“The plan to establish these so-called Ruga settlements was first unveiled by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammadu Umar. In a media interview in Abuja, Umar was quoted to have disclosed that the Ruga Settlement idea was the initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) that was presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).”

The forum explained that according to the Permanent Secretary, work is ongoing in 12 pilot states, with six Ruga settlements expected to be established in each of the pilot states.

“The final plan is to ensure that same is replicated in all the 36 states of the Federation, including the FCT. Going by the Permanent Secretary’s disclosure, no less than 222 of such settlements shall be built all over the country when fully completed,” the statement explained.

Accordingly to the forum, “An umbrella body of all socio-cultural groups in Middle Belt Region hereby unequivocally rejects in totality the proposed establishment of Ruga settlements in the Middle Belt, as it is a policy that seeks to exclusively benefit a particular ethnic group against the rest of Nigerians.

“In this line, we hereby declare our total support and solidarity for Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue and Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba state who have developed the rare courage of raising their voices against unfair, unjust and oppressive policies of the Federal Government.

“On the other hand, we wish to denounce in totality the fraudulent and mischievous group that calls itself the Concerned Middle Belt Citizens Forum (CMBCF).

“This group, if it ever exists, has made itself readily available to be procured by detractors of the Middle Belt Region to insult our leaders and oppose any struggle aimed at emancipating the people of the Middle Belt,” the statement explained.

The statement observed that the local Fulani are living peacefully in their Ruga settlements scattered across the various communities in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country.

MBF added, “They have been going about their normal lives and returning to their settlements at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, these local Fulani are never homeless for government to tinker with the idea of building exclusive settlements for them.

“From available reports, the Federal Government has not just proposed but has gone ahead to commence the construction of Ruga settlements, mostly in Middle Belt states of Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba, among others. Specifically in Taraba and Benue, the Federal Government has gone ahead to commence construction of these Ruga settlements against the wish of these state governments, amidst widespread protests by the people and in spite of existing laws that prohibit open grazing and provides for ranching.

“Going by the insistence of the Federal Government to forcefully establish these Ruga settlements, it suggests to us that the government is on a mission to settle criminal terrorist herdsmen that are behind the incessant invasions of our communities and displacing our people from their ancestral lands, thereby precipitating grave humanitarian crisis situation in the affected areas.”

Middle Belt Forum lamented, “Despite these incessant invasions of our communities, often times on a genocidal scale by marauding Fulani herdsmen, the Federal Government has never deemed it fit to apprehend, prosecute or convict any of the aggressors. Ironically, it is always the victims who try to defend their communities that are always hounded into detention by government agents.

“Sadly, all we ever heard from President Buhari is that these invaders are from neighbouring countries. The Miyetti Allah group has said the same. Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna state has not only corroborated this fact that the invaders are from foreign countries, but also has confirmed paying compensation to them.

“Contrary to claims by the Federal Government that the Ruga settlement is aimed at addressing the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, our Forum insists that the plan is nothing but a ploy to import criminal Fulani from within and neighbouring countries to settle them in our communities in order to change demography for political, social and economic advantage in pursuit of the much-talk about ‘Fulanisation’ agenda of the present administration.

“If at all there is need for government to use tax payers’ money to build settlements for any particular group, it is for those homeless, starving and helpless citizens of our country who, for no fault of theirs, have been internally displaced from their ancestral lands by Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, armed banditry in the North-west and Fulani herdsmen’s invasions in the Middle Belt and the South.

“The deplorable conditions of IDPs all over the country are pathetic and quite unfortunate. Any responsible and responsive government would rather focus its energies on ameliorating the suffering of these categories of people and not engage in the vain pursuit of ethnic chauvinistic agenda aimed at enthroning the supremacy of one group over others as an official state policy.”

BIG STORY

‘Your Fall Is Near, Stop Inciting Violence’ — Ohanaeze Youth Tackles Nnamdi Kanu

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The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council has cautioned Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), against inciting violence in the south-eastern region.

Kanu was reported to have asked #EndSARS protesters in the region to destroy the properties belonging to the Yoruba — an allegation he has denied.

The youth council, in a statement by Okwu Nnabuike, its secretary-general, said Kanu has deviated from “the peaceful approach of non- violent struggle, traditionally adopted by Biafra agitators”.

“Nnamdi Kanu’s craftiness, bogus claims, lack of respect for Igbo elders and hatred for other ethnic groups in Nigeria, had endangered the lives and properties of Ndigbo in Lagos and Northern Nigeria,” the group said in the statement.

“Now, Ndigbo has seen clearly that IPOB had confirmed the reason why the once peaceful organization was proscribed and labeled a terrorist group. In the last few weeks, private and public properties, as well as lives, have wasted across Igbo with people carrying Biafra flags under the banner of EndSARS protests.

“From Aba to Awka, Onitsha, Owerri to Obigbo and Igbo towns, it has been tales of destruction and woes from the same people who are yet to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. What kind of leader will make a video calling his followers to get weapons, kill policemen, and burn police stations? Meanwhile, the so-called leader or freedom fighter is safe and away with his family in the white man’s country, London while his indoctrinated followers inflict death and destruction of the same people he purportedly seeks to liberate.

“EndSARS Protests is a Purely Nigerian Youth Movement aimed towards addressing the abnormalities in Nigeria, attempts by Omoyele Sowore to infiltrate the Lekki Protesters was resisted by the Yoruba Youths. The recent vituperative attacks of Adesinya Grandson on Ndigbos had been dismissed and disowned by Afenifere and Yoruba Youths. The fall of Nnamdi Kanu is near, he should retreat now, and apologize to Ndigbos for endangering their lives in the North and South West, by inciting violence in Aba and Obigbo while his father’s house and Afara community is safe. A day of reckoning is fast approaching and inevitably near when Nnamdi Kanu will no longer influence the Youths for his fame and wealth seeking games under the guise of ill-thought-out Biafra agitation

The group cautioned IPOB members to shelve their planned rally in the southern region, alleging that it is being sponsored “to create confusion and tension perhaps frighten Igbo governors with presidential ambitions to drop it”.

“OYC urges Igbo Youths to leave the streets. We Commend the Southeast Governors Forum for the maturity exhibited by allowing Endsars protesters to freely exhaust their activities against police brutality without molestation. Igbo Youths will further resist attempts by IPOB to venture into the Nigerian project through the backdoor and create a breeding ground for the State of Emergency to be declared in the South East and South-South,” it said.




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Lagos To Prosecute 229 Suspects For Arson, Murder, Looting, Other Crimes

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The Lagos State Government has said it will be prosecuting all suspected hoodlums arrested in connection with the mayhem unleashed on the state between Tuesday and Wednesday in the aftermath of the Lekki toll gate shooting by soldiers.

The state Ministry of Justice said on Saturday that the police had arrested 229 suspected hoodlums and their case files were being evaluated preparatory to prosecution on charges of arson, murder, stealing, malicious damage of properties, assault, etc.

A statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr Kayode Oyekanmi, said the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, had gone round relevant police formations with her team “to evaluate files of those arrested by the police with a view to determining those that have prima facie case made against them.”

The statement read in part, “Two hundred and twenty-nine (229) suspects were arrested by the police for various criminal offenses, ranging from arson, murder, stealing, malicious damage of properties and assault before and after the state-wide curfew imposed by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to restore law and order.

“After the evaluation exercise, those that have cases to answer will be arraigned before the courts on Monday, while the release of those that have no case to answer will be ensured.

“Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) while calling on Lagosians to maintain peace, law, and order in their respective communities, pledged the commitment of the state government to uphold the rule of law at all times.”




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Falana Writes Lagos Government, Says Unclaimed Corpses Marked ‘Unknown’ In Mortuaries

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Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has written a letter to the Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN), drawing the attention of the state government to the existence of some unclaimed corpses in government mortuaries following the shooting of protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20, 2020.

The letter, which was obtained by PUNCH Newspaper on Saturday is titled, ‘Request for Coroner’s Inquest Into the Brutal Killing of Unarmed Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020’.

It read in part, “ASCAB requests the Lagos State Government to check the mortuaries in the Lagos State hospitals and at Lagos University Teaching Hospital with a view to confirming the actual number of protesters that were killed by the soldiers at the venue of the protest or those who lost their lives as a result of fatal injuries.

“The investigation ought to be carried out as some of the dead bodies dumped in the mortuaries have been marked ‘unknown’.”

The ASCAB interim chairman also demanded a coroner’s inquest into the incident since the state government had confirmed that at least two people died in the incident.

Falana said the group had confirmed that soldiers from a particular military barracks on Victoria Island, Lagos invaded the venue of the peaceful protest at the Lekki toll gate on Tuesday and fired live rounds at the protesters under the cover of darkness.

The ASCAB interim chairman recalled that before perpetrating the dastardly act the soldiers caused the light to be switched off while the CCTV cameras at the toll gate were reportedly cut out.

The statement further read, “From the information at our disposal, two of the protesters have since lost their lives while some survivors are still receiving treatment in two hospitals in Lagos State. Others who have been discharged from the hospitals are recuperating in their homes.

“In view of the denial of the Nigerian Army in the brutal attack of the unarmed protesters, ASCAB is compelled to request the Lagos State Government to conduct an inquest into the cause and circumstances of the unnatural death of the deceased pursuant to the provisions of the Lagos State Coroner’s Inquest Law.”

 

PUNCH




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