The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, has said with its current strength, it will not be realistic to expect the military to station troops in all villages in Benue State as a way of stopping them from being attacked by herdsmen.
Speaking at a town hall meeting on the farmers and herders’ clashes, convened by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed in Abuja, Ogbeh said the Army did not have enough troops to deploy to all villages which are under threats of attacks by herdsmen.
He said, “I was with the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, in Benue State on Tuesday and the N10bn to be given to troubled states announced is not only for Benue, which is apparently facing this crisis. Unless you have units of 10 or 11 soldiers to guard each village, there is no way that the current security network can cover the needs of villagers who may be attacked in the afternoon or night. That was one of the things we studied on Tuesday.”
He also pointed out that the herdsmen attacks on Benue have been aggravated by the influx of weapons into the country through the trans-Saharan routes have had devastating humanitarian consequences on the people.
He said, “The crisis in the IDP camps is very severe. Lots of women and children want to return home, but there are no homes. So, the idea is to rehabilitate the homes as quickly as possible to let them return home. Two, NEMA is redesigning the settlements in the villages to bring more communities together so that people don’t live too far apart. Otherwise, we don’t have enough security to guard every settlement.”
“Three, we have to do everything we can to end these pastoral movements, slowly and in the large scale later. We have 415 reserves. Some have been encroached upon while others are still there. We have to provide water and grass, and protect the herdsmen from cattle rustlers, who are also Fulani,” Ogbeh stated.”