By Leke Success
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described the killings in Benue state as ethnic cleansing and urged the Federal Government to seek international assistance to curb the menace being carried out by marauding Fulani herdsmen nationwide.
Soyinka cautioned and counselled Nigerians and the government to wake up and stop treating the ongoing killings as a ringworm but as cancer.
Prof. Soyinka spoke Thursday, during a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom in Makurdi shortly after attending the 35th anniversary of Senator Suemo Chia’s novel, Adan Wade Kohol Ga, written in Tiv language.
He said, “I don’t believe in false pride, if the government cannot cope, it should not shy away from asking for international help. “When human lives are concerned in their thousands and so on, as it was observed everywhere all over the world, those nations where our military has served before can come to our assistance, I think there should be no business of national integrity, national pride and so on.
“People are dying, this government cannot cope, please just ask for international help and I know they’re ready and willing to come to our aid.
“Just like refusal to recognise, and at the critical moment, the nature of a particular problem that has been the basis of the massacres going on in this region, especially Benue State. There’s no any other word for it.
“Let’s not play around with the euphemisms. It’s no other word but ethnic cleansing. There’s no other definition of what has been going on here. And it’s very sad to me personally to see that a nation like Nigeria, with so much human talent, has failed to learn the lesson of the history of places like Rwanda.
“It happened in Europe, ethnic cleansing in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere, so it’s not a new phenomenon. And therefore we should have been able to learn from the experiences of others and stopped this thing before it became an epidemic which is what it is today,” he stated.
Governor Ortom in his speech stated that what was happening in the state was ethnic cleansing and Jihad. Ortom said, “this is not a hidden agenda, it’s known and those people who are perpetrating it did say it. They’re not hidden. They held press conferences, they came out and said they were going to resist our law, that they were going to do ethnic cleansing, it’s about Jihad, it’s about taking over the land, it’s not about herders and farmers clashes.
“They said it clearly and it’s written and we have the documents and have reported them to the security agencies. I’m in agreement with you but as law-abiding citizens, we don’t even have cutlasses to fight back. “We cannot use any weapon to fight back, we depend on the law enforcement agencies. Even the cutlasses that we used to have were taken over by security agencies. “Our dane guns the Inspector General said we should surrender them, including those that were licensed. So we are left in the hands of the security men. Those of them who are posted in Benue State are doing their best and they have been victims of these attacks too. “Several Policemen have been killed in the course of this crisis. Soldiers and the Civil Defence are not spared. The State Service is not also spared. They have been killed and slaughtered like animals.
“So, like you rightly said, this is not a matter of ringworm but real cancer. If there were any other word stronger than cancer, I would have said what is happening in Benue State is more than cancer. And like you rightly observed, it is our responsibility to rise up to defend the unity of this country and to defend our integrity as leaders.”
The Governor commended Professor Soyinka for his solidarity and President Muhammadu Buhari for upgrading the military action in the state and expressed hope that the invaders would be flushed out.