The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has warned the Federal Government against declaring a state of emergency in Benue State and also called for the arrest and prosecution of culprits in the killings in Benue and other places.
The leaders made this known after a meeting of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders in Abuja.
The leaders reviewed events after its visit to Benue over the January 1 killings, expressing regret that “President Muhammadu Buhari has not lived up to the expectations of his office by keeping mute on the killings, visiting neighbouring Nasarawa and Adamawa states, while ignoring Benue.”
In a communiqué by Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the forum said it was disturbed by the allegation that soldiers drafted to Benue State under Operation Cat Dance, were allegedly “circulating leaflets calling Tiv cattle rustlers, which clearly suggests that the operation is ostensibly meant to turn victims into villains and decimate their capacity for self-defence.”
In its resolution, the leaders called on President Buhari to “stop the killings in Benue and other parts of the country by disarming herdsmen and fishing out culprits for prosecution.” It also warned “against any plot to declare a state of emergency in Benue State, as being canvassed by some sponsored group, as such a move in the Western Region had dire consequences in the past.”
The forum also called for a probe into the statement credited to the Director General of Department of State Services, DSS, at the Senate security meeting that “sophisticated weapons being used by herdsmen are from the armouries of security agencies.”