Benue Community Sues Fulani Herdsmen For N100bn Over Farm Destruction
A Makurdi High Court Judge, Justice Morris Ikpambese, has granted a motion ex parte brought by the people of Tyoshin community in the Gwer-West Local Government Area of Benue State claiming N100bn from six Fulani herdsmen for destroying their farms.
While granting the motion brought by the counsel for the plaintiffs, Justice Ikpambese ordered that the writ of summons be served on the respondents by substituted means.
He said the writ of summons should be served in the office of the chairman, civilian joint task force on the Tiv-Fulani affairs in Benue and Nasarawa states in the premises of the office of the deputy governor of the state.
The judge said the summons should also be served by pasting same on the notice board of the High Court of Justice, Makurdi, adding that he was satisfied with the submission of the plaintiff’s’ counsel that efforts made to effect direct service on the respondents had proved abortive as shown by the exhibit before the court.
In the statement of claim, the plaintiffs, led by Mr Shuwem Mnguduguen, alleged that six Fulani herdsmen simply identified as, Alhaji Doka, Alhaji Danka, Alhaji Shagari, Alhaji Dogo, Alhaji Ilo and Alhaji Ibrahim – destroyed their farms and land, demanding that the trespassers should pay them N100bn.
They equally prayed the court to restrain them from further trespass on their land.
The PUNCH learnt that Fulani herdsmen started attacking communities in the Gwer-West LGA in 2011.
During the latest attacks, 17 communities were destroyed while unspecified number of houses, farms and stores of harvested crops were destroyed.
During a tour of the affected communities organised by the Chairman of the Gwer-West LGA traditional council, Chef Daniel Abomtse, newsmen counted 33 shallow graves of women and children killed in the attacks.
In 2012, hundreds of the herdsmen invaded the local government area and occupied devastated areas with their cattle and allegedly killed the remnants, forcing the then state governor, Gabriel Suswam, to request the presence of soldiers.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, has said various ethnic groups in Nigeria need to hold a dialogue in order to fashion out a lasting solution to the atrocities of herdsmen across the country.
Opadokun, who is a lawyer, said the crisis had assumed a national dimension and urgent steps needed to be taken to avert the problem which could snowball into a major national crisis.
Speaking with journalists after the dedication of the new First Baptist Church, Offa, the NADECO chieftain said it was wicked for a group of people to cause pains and kill people through their activities.
He added, “Nobody should be under any illusion; we are in a major crisis. Let the ethnic nationalities have a democratic arrangement and sit down to treat and deal with the problem.
“There must be term and the rule of engagement and modus operandi. As a result of such concurrence, we can now fashion out a new constitution, which will be called the ground norm, that is our home-made constitution, to which all can subscribe.
“We don’t have that now; that is why a group of people will leave their own place go and destroy the crops of other persons in another part of the country, and then when the farmers ask questions and they go to the police, they will be the ones who will be abused and sometimes detained.
“The Fulani herdsmen will go scot-free and the government knows about this. I think there was a meeting about this yesterday (Saturday) and the Minister of Interior spoke about it so he knows about it.”
Opadokun said the church in Nigeria had regrettably not been a change agent due to activities of some Christian leaders which he said was undermining the cause of Jesus Christ.
According to him, some churches receive proceeds of illegal transactions from their members without trying to probe the sources of their wealth.
Opadokun believed that the Federal Government needed loans to complete some of the projects started by the previous administrations.
He, however, said such loans must be channelled towards providing essential infrastructure such as good road network and railway transportation system which he said would boost the nation’s economy.