The Fulani Cattle Breeders Association has apologised for killings of Agatu people of Benue State in North Central Nigeria.
The apology comes three years after over 3000 Agatu men; women and children were massacred by the Fulani herdsmen.
Chairman of the Fulani Cattle Breeders Association in Nasarawa State, Hussaini Mohammed tendered the apology during a peace and reconciliation meeting between the warring parties of Fulani herdsmen and Agatu indigenes.
The two have been at loggerheads for the past five years over cattle grazing. “l want to apologise on behalf of the Fulani cattle rearers for the killing of Agatu people. Please, find a place in your hearts to forgive us, we are very sorry,’’ Mohammed appealed.
Benue and Nasarawa State governors, who are chief negotiators in the peace meeting are expected to return to negotiating table after the Agatu people rejected their appeals to allow the Fulani people return to Agatu land for grazing.
Residents of Agatu Local Government in Benue State are still mourning the brutal killing of thousands of their kinsmen by the cattle breeders. Minority Leader and representative of the people in the Benue State House of Assembly, Audu Sule called for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the ravaged Agatu communities before any reconciliation could take place between the natives and herdsmen.
“The Nigerian Government must replicate the Theophilus Danjuma Foundation policy in North Eastern Nigeria to Agatu land by reconstructing and rehabilitating the people of Agatu before we can allow the Fulani people a room for reconciliation’’ the lawmaker stated.
Audu called for the establishment of a permanent Mobile Police Unit in Agatu Local Government as part of conditions to end further invasion of the communities. ”It is difficult to reach a truce in a supposed peace meeting with fresh wounds of injuries still lingering on the mind of a devastated community inflicted by herdsmen with thousands of lives lost and properties worth billions of Naira destroyed,” he stressed.
This is the second time in less than one week that the Governors of Benue and Nasarawa State have met and renewed their commitment to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herdsmen at their border communities.
The two governors stressed “the need to work harmoniously to address the herders and farmers skirmishes and other border crimes, which have the propensity to assume inter-state dimension.’’
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom lamented the trauma experienced by the people of Agatu in the hands of the nomadic herdsmen and promised that measures would be put in place to avert future occurrence of such attacks.
‘‘We must come together and find a way to resolve this crisis so that our socio- economic activities will improve and for development to take place in our domains,’’ Ortom stated. After an aerial survey of the affected communities, Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura sympathised with the people of Agatu over the wanton destruction of lives and property.
He pledged to convey the position of the Agatu people to the Nigerian Government and to support every initiative to end the clashes. The Governor also advocated a community based conflict resolution mechanism.
Last week after an emergency security meeting with Benue State governor in Makurdi, Governor Tanko Al-Makura told Journalists that the incidents of attacks on farmers by the Fulani herdsmen were not peculiar to Benue Communities.
Al-Makura said he would remain in Benue State until the mission to end the lingering crisis between Agatu farmers and herdsmen was achieved. The mediation by the two governors is expected to continue in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital.