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Agatu is bleeding, speak up now – Onjeh writes David Mark

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and former senatorial candidate in Benue South, Daniel Onjeh has written a thought-provoking letter to former Senate President and the senator representing his zone at the national assembly, David Mark on the happenings in Agatu area of the state.

Onjeh said Mark’s refusal to act and speak up against the damages done to the people of the agrarian community by herdsmen was no longer golden.

The former students’ unionist in the letter sent to newsmen, drew Mark’s attention to the untold hardship, pain and hunger Agatu people were being subjected to as a result of the attacks on them by the Fulani herdsmen.

Onjeh in the letter said it was unfair for Mark, who happens to be the frontier of the ‘Homeland Defence’ to keep mum over the renewed attacks on the community this year.

The letter reads:

“It is with the greatest sense of humility that I write to seek your intervention on the above subject which falls squarely within your purview as the leader and representative of the Idoma and people of Benue South in the senate.

You will recall that the Agatu people have suffered incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen, the last, being the deadliest, claimed several lives and caused the destruction of property worth hundreds of millions of naira.

The survivors of the herdsmen invasion of Agatu, majority of whom are still languishing in acute deprivation are still mourning loved ones lost in the crisis or nursing their (physical or psychological) wounds, or both.

It is important to commend you and other concern citizens at this juncture, for providing relief materials to the internally displaced persons of Agatu shortly after the assault on their communities.

A year after the attacks, the Agatu people are still grappling with the challenges posed by the humanitarian crisis that ensued. Their devastated communities are yet to be reconstructed.

Agatu and its inhabitants are too important to be ignored. It is worthy of mention that the people have contributed immensely to the economic growth of Nigeria in the area of agriculture and fishery. Their local government area have always been a crucial part of political developments in Benue South, and by extension, Benue State at large.

You will agree with me that addressing the Agatu situation is by far beyond the capacity of any individual, and in a sense, even beyond that of the state government, which has limited resources and control over the security agencies.

The Agatu people and community are in dire need of federal presence that would have a substantial impact in the area to the extent of bringing them out of the woods.

While appreciating that your influence in the senate may be limited by the fact that your party is in the minority, with due respect, the general concern about the attack of herdsmen on communities in the nation cuts across party lines. For instance,

 it took the amplified voice of the PDP Sen. Danjuma Laah, representing Southern Kaduna in the hallowed chamber, to draw global attention to the pogrom unleashed on his people by marauding herdsmen.

 Sen. Laah’s loud voice complimented and magnified the outcry of Southern Kaduna people. This forced the intervention of the Federal Government and propelled the prompt provision of adequate relief materials to various IDP camps in the area and the establishment of a military battalion around the affected communities.

The Agatu crises, which were much larger scale than the latter, got far less attention or concern. Instead, the crisis is taking ugly dimensions by the day.

Virtually all the school aged children are at home; majority of the women and youths, whose preoccupations were mainly farming and fishing, are redundant. As it is said, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” This web of frustration, if left unchecked, can constitute a serious security threat.

Already there has been a fracas between some youths of the community and security agents which led to the death of a soldier. But for the intervention of the Benue State Governor, H.E Dr. Samuel Ortom, we would have witnessed a replica of Odi and Zaki Biam-military reprisal.

 While I seize this opportunity to condemn in the strongest of terms, the youths involved in this unpatriotic and dastardly act, I send my condolence to the Nigerian Military, and the family of the slain soldier. I crave their patience to wait for the Benue State government to fish out the culprits as promised.

May I also urge that you plead with the military top brass so as to pacify them and avert the possibility of a reprisal on the community. It is your voice alone, in all of Idoma land, that has the weight of moral authority to assuage the Army’s grievance and prevent a reprisal.

Sequel to the foregoing, I humbly make this passionate appeal to you in your capacity as the senator representing the good people of Benue South: Let your cry about the plight of the Agatu people echo loud on the floor of the senate to the high heavens.

Garner the support of your colleagues to pressurise the Federal Government to consider the reconstruction of Agatu and establish a military battalion, or mobile police squadron, to provide the minimal enabling environment and allay the fears of the indigenes of the area to enable them return to their socio-economic activities.

Finally, I wish you sound health and God’s guidance as you represent the people of Benue South in the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you in anticipation of your positive action.”

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