Benue Youth Forum, BYF has expressed disappointed at the comment of Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying he is a trabilist and not the unifier he claims to be.
The group made this statement in a world press conference it held today in Abuja.
The Youth group said Atiku’s message to Benue people over the killings in Gbeji was a show of love for his Fulani brother over the Benue farmers who were killed.
The statement reads: “The Benue Youth Forum, BYF has deemed it necessary to address this press conference to react to some unfortunate comments and careless attitude of the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar which have been a source of concern to us.
“About two weeks ago, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had while fielding questions during a presidential interactive session organized by Arewa Joint Committee held at Arewa House in Kaduna, said he was “very angry with Governor Samuel Ortom for profiling Fulanis as bandits and terrorists because he, Atiku is also a Fulani person.”
“And just last weekend, the PDP Presidential Candidate made another terrible unforced error while claiming to be reacting to last week’s killing of over 40 people including two police officers in Gbeji, Ukum Local Government Area of Benue state by terrorists suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
“Alhaji Atiku in the statement on his verified twitter handle clandestinely justified the killings of Benue people in their sleep, claiming that the heinous act was apparently due to what he described as “sustained clashes between farmers and herders…”.
“That the PDP presidential candidate tagged the dastardly killing of children, women and the aged in their communities as “escalation of inter-communal violence” clearly heightens the suspicion as to his level of insensitivity and complicity in the incessant attacks on Benue communities.
“Equally sad and irresponsible is the comment by Alhaji Atiku which suggests that the killings in Benue state were occasioned by lack of inclusion and integration of people into “communities where they live, work, pay taxes and raise their children”.
“Atiku’s veiled justification of the massacre in Ukum and indeed other parts of Benue is coming barely a week after he openly declared his hatred for Governor Ortom for standing firm to ensure that the people are not wiped out and their lands annexed by invaders.
“Alhaji Atiku’s loud silence over the massive killings of unarmed and innocent Benue people because they refuse to surrender their land for cattle grazing was suspect. And now that he has come out to express how bad he feels that Governor Ortom has been resilient in ensuring that his (Ortom’s) people are not wiped out of the face of the earth by his kinsmen finally confirm that the man who is privileged to be the holder of the title of “Zege Mule u Tiv” is not really “the shadow under which the Tiv people can seek refuge”.
“That careless and callous comment coming from an individual who is parading himself as a “unifier” clearly shows where he stands on the incessant invasion of Benue communities and massacre of the people and the destruction of their property by well armed Fulani militiamen.
“We see that evil statement which came from the abundance of Atiku’s heart as a justification of the massacre in Benue state and a mockery of those who died in those attacks as well as a declaration of support for the marauding Fulani terrorists that carry those heinous activities.
“The Benue Youth Forum therefore calls on the Alhaji Atiku to exhibit his acclaimed love for the Tiv people by condemning the act carried out by the Fulani militia if indeed he is sincere to himself.
“BYF also wants the Tiv Traditional Council to monitor Alhaji Atiku’s future utterances and outings concerning and relating to happenings especialy tragedies in Tiv land and consider a review of his title of “Zege Mule U Tiv” if he does not amend his ways and live up to expectation.
“While we call on Atiku to moderate his desperation for power and avoid careless utterances just to attract sympathy even at the expense of the sanctity of human lives, we demand an immediate and well published apology from the PDP Presidential candidate for that assault on the entire Benue community.
“The Forum also wants the PDP Presidential standard bearer who presents himself as a “unifier” to come out clear on his plans and strategy to tackle the incessant killing of people in Benue if elected or forget the votes of Benue people in next year’s elections.
“We also demand nothing short of a genuine and sincere commitment from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that he will turn a new leaf and show that he is not in any way disposed to condoning the madness being perpetrated by terrorists and bandits especially in Benue if he becomes the president.
“The BYF therefore commends Governor Ortom for the good work he is doing to protect the people and encourages him not to be deterred by the antics of those who do not wish Benue well.
“We assure the governor and the people of our unflinching support to all efforts and initiatives such as the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law and the creation of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, aimed at curbing the senseless killings of Benue people in their communities.”