Plateau State communities where herdsmen have wrecked in recent padt took their frustration to the streets of Jos, the state capital Thursday as they protested in their hundreds.
The protesters disrupted activities of the state House of Assembly as they besieged the House over the incessant killings in the state.
Parliamentary activities were delayed by the two separate groups of protesters that stormed the Assembly complex.
The protesters, mostly women and youths, stormed the Assembly to register their displeasure over the spate of killings by Fulani herdsmen.
While the first group, the Internally Displaced Women in Daffo District, in the Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, made “an urgent call to action on the humanitarian situation in the area following attacks by Fulani herdsmen,” the other group, Middle Belts Youths Arise, demanded the establishment of Middle Belt Development Commission to deal with specific situations caused by the conflicts.
The Speaker of Plateau House of Assembly, Peter Azi, and other principal officers, hurriedly left their duties to attend to the protesters.
Afer listening to his guests, Azi said, “We will look into your grievances and rest assured that something positive will be done.”
The IDW of Daffo displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘We have been made Internally Displaced Persons in our land,’ ‘We demand justice for Daffo,’ ‘Where is SEMA – State Emergency Management Agency?’ ‘The rains are here and we don’t have homes,’ ‘Our votes count’ and ‘Governor Simon Lalong, help us.’
The MBYA also showed their placards with inscriptions like ‘Unite for a greater tomorrow,’ ‘Stop the genocide: Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!’ ‘We want peace, not war,’ ‘No to occupation of our villages,’ ‘Our heritage, our pride, stop the killings,’ ‘Disarm the Fulani herdsmen,’ ‘We all have to defend our land (Middle Belt),’ and ‘We need justice for the killings, stop the armed herdsmen.’
The women submitted a petition signed by Comfort Matawal Malan to the Assembly, detailing the plight of over 7,000 IDPs in the Daffo District camp.
The petition read in part: “Many of us have been completely thrown off balance having been parted with our lifetime investments in food crops, houses and property. Many still face threats of losing their farmlands to marauding Fulani who have trespassed on our farmlands, clearing and tilling, obviously for the purpose of cultivation as the farming season approaches.
“This is in addition to the trauma already built up in our minds and the fear of insecurity which might not allow us to resume and face our normal socio-economic lives with required vigour to flourish.”
The women demanded adequate security for affected communities, while “the same strategy employed to guard farmers in the North-East and elsewhere on their farms should be employed to enable our farmers to pick up economically.”
The spokesperson for MBYA, John Okpe, said the Middle Belt “has been constitutionally demobilised and geographically balkanised.”
He said: “The government has formulated a policy of self-sufficiency in terms of producing what we consume at most in 2020. This is commendable; the Middle Belters have agriculture as their mainstay and can help the government to achieve this vision.
“However, this policy, lofty as it is, will remain a mirage if farmers, who are the harbingers, are burnt down in their farms.”
The MBYA in a memo submitted to the Plateau Assembly, signed by Samuel Odumu Okpe, demanded an outright cessation of all hostilities by the armed herdsmen.
The organisation warned that “if the attacks go on, our people will defend themselves.”