Wantaregh Unongo, leader of the Tiv nation and the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, says the Federal Government has failed in its responsibility to protect the people of Benue.
Speaking on Thursday shortly after many residents gathered to bury victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks of January 1 and 2, 2018, in parts the State, Unongo said if the trend continues the people would train their own army in the state to defend themselves.
Offices, commercial banks, markets and schools were closed in the state capital as the government declared Thursday, a work-free day in honour of the 73 victims that were slaughtered last week by suspected Fulani Herdsmen.
Unongo recalled that a good number of Benue indigenes sacrificed their lives for the country during the Nigerian civil war.
“Benue people sacrificed blood for the unity of this country and will not allow a section of Fulani herdsmen to kill our people in cold blood.
“I am telling Nigerians that my people cannot continue to be cannon fodder for this country. If the government can’t protect us, we will mobilise and train our people into an army to defend us. We are 100 per cent in support of what Governor Samuel Ortom has done. I am the spiritual and ancestral leader of the Tiv nation; enough is enough.”
Unongo further sided with Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, that the Federal Government should arrest the leader of Miyetti Allah Kautal Houre.
“If the Federal Government cannot stop or arrest those behind the killings; in two weeks, we shall raise an army of our own. We cannot allow people to colonise us again, we have all it takes to do that,” Unongo added.
Also speaking, a former military governor of Plateau and Katsina states, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.), said he will throw his weight behind the ‘Tiv-Army’ if the Federal Government fails in its part to protect the Benue people.
He urged sons and daughters of the state to rally round the governor for the successful enforcement of the anti-open grazing law.
“Some of us, in 1966, fought the Nigerian civil war; Benue has contributed to the unity of this country. If the Federal Governmrnt refuses to address the killings in Benue and if we decide to raise our army as advocated by our elders to defend ourselves, l will not mind to command that army despite my age,” the general said.
He appealed to the government at the centre to replicate Operation Python Dance or Fulani Dance in Benue as being done in other states of the federation.