Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 707 Special Forces Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Makurdi, Major Molabisi Olalekan Ayeni, has said that the military was committed to ensuring peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians and harmonious relationships among the herders and farmers.
Major Ayeni, who was reacting to a statement by Mdzough U Tiv over flyers issued by the Department of Civil Military Affairs, said the Army was not in the state for the Fulani herdsmen to disobey the Benue state Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
According to him, the Nigeria Army, as a federal government agency, “is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians as well as protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria.”
He said: “We are not saying the Fulani herdsmen should not obey the anti open grazing law enacted by the Benue state government.
“Let me inform you that we had arrested some Fulani herdsmen that wanted to attack Governor Ortom’s farm in Guma and with all these success you should know that Ex-Ayem Akpatuma is not in support of any group and is not in the pursuit or criticising any group.
“Our role is to make sure that Benue State is peaceful and one of the ways we are going about it is for the herders to know that either a Tiv man or an Idoma man or Igede man is a Nigerian like him and a herder who is not violent know is their brother.”
He said if the military in the course of the military exercise found a violent herdsman that wanted to kill or displace any person in Benue state, they would arrest him.
“So, the way and manner we go in achieving a peaceful environment in Benue state, especially in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state and Katsina-Ala local government is by using this psychological method to test these people that we are friends, don’t fight or pursue the other because we are one family.”