The Fulani community in Benue State, accused of killing hundreds in Agatu in Benue State, said Thursday that the crisis started after 10,000 of cattle belonging to its members were killed by Agatu natives.
Ado Boderi, who spoke on behalf of the Fulani community on Thursday, during a meeting between Agatu community, Fulani community and Police Inspector General Solomon Arase, said criminal elements from both sides escalated the crisis despite the quick intervention of the governor.
He said that Fulani herdsmen were a peace-loving people, whose main concern was the problem of cattle rustling.
Akpa Iduh, who spoke on behalf of the Agatu people, decried the continued unprovoked attacks on his people by “Fulani mercenaries”.
Mr. Iduh, who said that the crisis started over five decades ago, lamented that it had recently turned into a war because of the types of weapons the herdsmen were using against them.
He alleged that the “Fulani mercenaries” were killing both children and pregnant women on sight, adding that they were powerless after embracing the Benue Amnesty Programme and surrendered illegal arms to government.
“The herdsmen are bent on turning our land into their grazing area, thereby rendering us homeless and without food.
“Is it because we are minority and poor that they are using their numerical advantage and wealth against us?
“We are going to remain in Agatu until the day they have succeeded in killing all of us.”
The Inspector- General of Police, Solomon Arase, said in Makurdi that the force had deployed enough policemen to end the clashes between Agatu farmers and herdsmen in Benue.
Mr. Arase, who was on a fact-finding mission to the state, made the assertion at a meeting between Agatu farmers and herdsmen.
He disclosed that the force had deployed additional four units of police teams to the area to arrest the situation.
“I am in Benue on the directives of Mr President on a fact- finding mission and to also see if there is a way to resolve the crisis.
“We have enough security officers to end the ongoing crisis between farmers and herdsmen in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue.
“We have also deployed additional four units of police teams in the area to arrest the situation.
“There is no way we can all live together without having disagreements with one another at some point; it is the way we manage the disagreements that matters.
“Both the farmers and herdsmen must learn to cohabit with one another as a nation for the peace and progress of our people,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that out of the 10 council wards in Agatu Local Government Area, only one ward was not affected in the bloody clashes.