The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has called on the Federal Government to establish an independent panel to investigate the bombing of herders and their cattle in Nasarawa. In a statement issued by its national president, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the MBF called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the killings of unarmed citizens in various states of the Middle Belt for the sake of justice and fairness. The statement emphasized that Governor Ortom must be exonerated from false accusations and remains the leader of Benue State who is determined to protect the democratic rights of his people.
The statement pointed out that there have been conflicting reports on the incident, with Governor Abdullahi Audu Sule of Nasarawa claiming that the herdsmen were killed in a drone attack, while the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria stated that the Federal Government should bring the culprits to book. The MBF noted that the Nigerian Air Force carried out operations against terrorist targets in the same period, but there was no mention of cattle casualties in any of the reports.
The MBF expressed concerns about the recent accusations by the deposed emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who accused Governor Ortom of the killings. The forum warned against inflammatory statements over security matters and emphasized that Benue State is not involved in the alleged killings. The MBF observed that since the introduction of the anti-grazing law in Benue, there has been tension between Governor Ortom and supporters of the herdsmen, leading to violence and destruction of lives and property.
The statement also pointed out that deploying drone attacks is the responsibility of the Federal Government and there is no evidence to suggest that Governor Ortom is involved in the alleged attack. The MBF called for equity and fairness in treating all citizens, regardless of political, ethnic, or religious backgrounds, and urged Nigerians to avoid promoting the supremacy of one ethnic nationality over others.