By Matthew Ajai-Kume
All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Benue State Chapter, said accusations made by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, that farmers carry AK-47 riffles like armed Fulani herdsmen is an insult to Benue farmers.
In a statement signed by the State Chairman, AFAN, Mr Aondongu Saaku and its Public Relations Officer, Mr Onu Ogbole, and made available to The Voice recently, said Governor Lalong’s utterance smacks of insensitivity and lack of statesmanship.
“We watched with shock, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong on Channels Television where he accused farmers for carrying AK-47 riffles like Fulani herdsmen,” the statement read.
“All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Benue State Chapter finds Governor Lalong’s accusation grossly unacceptable and we hereby reject it in its entirety.”
In the statement, AFAN considered the Plateau State Governor’s utterances as an insult to farmers of Benue State in particular and Nigerian farmers in general, whose effort in feeding the nation is being frustrated by atrocities of the armed herdsmen.
According to the statement, Benue State farmers are peaceful and law abiding, they do not take the law into their hands despite the many unprovoked attacks by the armed Fulani herdsmen on their members. “Our members are killed in their hundreds and their only source of livelihood destroyed by armed herdsmen,” the statement said.
However, the association commended the efforts of Governor Ortom in the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law and several other measures he took, in order to guarantee lasting peace and security in the state.
AFAN further acknowledged Governor Ortom’s firm stance for justice and his unflinching commitment to ensuring that thousands of their members who have been displaced by armed herdsmen attacks return to their ancestral homes. The group also said they are encouraged by governor’s selfless efforts and it believes that someday and very soon, justice will be granted to its members and Benue State in particular.
“We are still waiting for the N10 billion promised by the Federal Government to help displaced farmers to resettle,” the statement expressed. While calling on the national office of AFAN to step up defence for all their members across Nigeria.